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Setting New Year’s Intentions? How Long Will It Last?

Hand flipping a wooden cube with word "change" to "chance"

We often think about starting fresh every year. On January 1, we begin setting our intentions and hoping for the best one more time. But the real question remains, “If we really wanted to change, why would we have to wait? Why couldn’t you make the decision and let it happen?” Why do some people embrace change while others continually remain stuck?

Change can be exhilarating or terrifying, based on how we see things and what we think we need. Sometimes, we need to know where to jump off. Our lives have become some sort of sinking ship, to which we still hang on proclaiming, “Can you believe this; the boat is sinking?!” Rescue crews rush out to meet us. We stand on the deck, giving a blow-by-blow monologue as our trusted vessel collapses. What keeps us from getting into the lifeboat to safety?

Usually, there is a hidden payoff to staying stuck. Perhaps by resisting change, we can avoid the unknown. The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know. Really!? If that is our reasoning for rejecting transformation, we better accept the hot weather in hell and stop complaining. Maybe we fear venturing into the unknown because we might discover some painful secrets about the world and ourselves. We are all wrapped up in a facade of who we want to be instead of embracing and welcoming who we could become. Some of us desperately cling to what is not working so that we can avoid failure. We are so afraid of disappointing ourselves and others that we would rather suffer than change. When we fear failure, we always overestimate the amount of risk we are taking and dramatize the possible outcomes. We wait for a catastrophe to swallow us up.

Then there are those of us that thrive on drama. We like the thrill of going round and round or up and down until we throw up. We have a list of people we run to, complain to, report how others are just so wrong and how we are victimized. We have no intention of stepping off this merry-go-round. We love the excitement of being out of control. Unfortunately, after a good firework show, somebody has to clean up. We seem to be always annoyed when that somebody is us.

Even stranger still is when we refuse to change because we cannot take the chance. While we may consciously long for a promotion or hope that our romantic relationship will result in marriage, unconsciously, we are afraid of what will happen if the changes occur. We may fear people will abandon us or become angry with our success. So, we settle for fitting in rather than succeeding.

Lastly, we can avoid change because of guilt. If we honor our own needs and wants, it may disappoint others and their plans for us. We forgo the urge to heed our soul’s true calling and cater to what others have dictated for us. We may even feel spoiled or selfish. When we live within the confines of others’ desires, we end up living out their agendas, not ours. If anything, we will find ourselves realizing that we have lost our life purpose while not upsetting anyone. Don’t we count as an “anyone”?

The bottom line to why we resist change is that we cannot visualize how great our lives would be if we incorporated change into our lives. We want to be anywhere other than the situation we are in now. We want to change, but we can’t, so we find ourselves caught in a never-ending cycle:

  1. We are desperate to change
  2. We don’t feel we have enough to support ourselves in that change
  3. We are afraid to speak our truth
  4. We procrastinate and wait
  5. We can’t stand it so much we find a distraction
  6. The distraction makes us feel guilty
  7. We judge ourselves about the situation
  8. We end up attracting the very thing we fear

In the end, when we contemplate embodying change, we must realize that it is all about our self-esteem. If we don’t love and believe in who we are, then it will be impossible for us to muster the courage to face our insecurities and heal ourselves from the shame that prevents us from moving forward. The vast majority of us don’t understand how much power we have if we only choose to access it. If we spend all of our time stuck in the past, clinging to what was, we will never be able to take the opportunities beyond that await us. We must break through the dream world that keeps us small and in pain. The first step to believing in ourselves is to understand that there is so much more power we can tap into-internally and externally to make significant shifts in what is happening for us. But we have to own and believe in that power. So instead of focusing on why we continue to choose to be stuck, a more powerful tool may be to ask ourselves if we believe in our own power.

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