Starting Anew

Starting Anew January 6, 2022

Statistics suggest that most New Year’s resolutions are already in trouble, just a week into the year. It is certainly complicated and challenging to make significant changes in one’s life. Letting go of our resolutions by February is a sort of joke in today’s society. So few actually see it through. Why is that? And what can be done to turn the tide?

I love the idea of resolutions. For most of my life, New Year’s has been my favorite holiday. A fresh start. A chance to begin anew.

The trouble is that beginning anew is much harder than it seems. There is so much momentum behind the way we are. The habits and practices that define us are there for a reason. They have been reinforced over time and changing them is a monumental effort.


Power of Perspective

That being said, it is far from impossible. And the reason I adore New Year’s so much is because it is a reminder that every day is a chance to change our lives for the better.

From my experience, the real hang up is that we are trying to change our behavior without changing the core motivators that informed previous behavior. Said another way, we want different results and are willing to do some different things to get there – but what we so often overlook is that neither will come to fruition unless we also change the way we think.

There is a powerful correlation between what we do, think, and feel. The image that comes to mind is the recycling image with the three arrows creating a triangle of sorts. 

If we want to change our lives, we have to change all three elements. What we do, what we think, and how we feel.


Proper Direction

The process of change can begin at any of the three points. We can change our behavior until we change how we feel about something, which will change how we think about it. Act-Feel-Think. Or you can change the way you feel about something, which changes your mindset and then your behavior. Feel-Think-Act. Or, you can change the way you think about something, try it out with an action, which changes the way you feel. Think-Act-Feel.

There are two things that get us into trouble.

First is neglecting one or two of the elements of the triangle. So, we think doing something different is good enough. We need to make connections with how our new discipline is shaping our perspective and mindset. Our actions become meaningless obligations (which we will eventually give up on) if we cannot connect them to the other two elements. 

The same is true no matter which of the three elements we lead with. All three need attention or the system fails and reverts to what is familiar – old patterns.

The second thing that gets us into trouble is trying to reverse the flow. It ought to go Feel-Think-Act and back around to feel. That is the proper way the human being is aligned to experience healthy living.

When we try switching the current, we are swimming upstream. We try to decide on action straight from feeling, without thinking in between. Or we try to feel after thinking, which is not really possible and tends to bury our emotions.

Think of it this way: Action is the real stimulus, the proving ground, where the rubber meets the road. Feeling is the alarm clock, an instant reaction to the world presented to us. And Thinking is the moderator between the two, ciphering how our raw emotion can best be filtered into practical activity. When we reverse the flow, we get things all out of whack.

All of this to say that change is hard. We fail because we don’t know what we are asking ourselves. We don’t really know what we are getting into.

Yet, at the very same time, we desperately want change. We desire a better life and, to some degree at least, are willing to pursue it. The hang up is not usually in our deep motivation to be better, but in our understanding of what that truly entails.

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