Less than three weeks into 2014, the crucial question is being asked: Have you broken your New Year’s resolutions yet?
For millennials and the emerging generation, some have an expectation that our goals and aspirations will not endure; that we are incapable of the necessary self-discipline and willpower to create positive changes in our lives.
That doesn’t feel very good, does it?
As it turns out, how you feel – and how you want to feel – has a strong impact on whether you are actually going to keep your resolutions.
For those of you who have not kept your resolutions, or perhaps simply decided against committing to something bigger when the ball dropped, the good news is new beginnings can start at any time.
Michael Eisen, a Toronto-based entrepreneur said he thinks New Year’s resolutions are great in theory, but most people do not see them through because they are not truly representative of what we really want.
“I believe the reason why resolutions aren’t kept is because most of them are superficial and only scratch the surface of our true desires,” the founder of the Youth Wellness Network said via email. “I believe that where the real magic lies is in setting New Year’s intentions based on first discovering what our core feelings are.”
What we truly desire, Eisen added, are the feelings we think our accomplishments, relationships and possessions will give us.
“We need to ask ourselves ‘how do I want to feel this year’ instead of what do I want to do this year,” he said. “I suggest making a list of all the desired feelings you want. If that is too hard, think of all the things you want, then ask yourself how you want to feel. Then write down what comes to you.”
If goals are based on feelings, you will be more likely to follow through and put your intentions into action, Eisen said.
Eisen also makes the distinction between resolutions and intentions. Resolutions are focused more on achieving something, whereas intentions are flexible and “more of a state of being rather than doing” that allows the intention-setter to check in with him- or herself periodically to see if he or she is on the right track to happiness and well-being.
The great thing about making resolutions of any kind is that everyone’s approach is going to be unique. Eisen said he sets “annual intentions” every year, but also more than once per year.
I try to teach myself one new, positive habit every three months so that I can embrace variety while not getting overwhelmed by a laundry list of changes I want to make. At the end of the year, I have four new routines that help me to live a healthier, happier life.
Consider making resolutions even twice a year: once for January 1, and again for Rosh Hashanah. We have different concerns at different times of the year, and our life experiences can drastically change our priorities from one day to the next.
“I think it works to check in with yourself a few times throughout the year to make sure everything is still aligned,” Eisen said. “I personally haven’t done this during Rosh Hashanah before, but I love the idea of doing it then as well!”
In many ways, setting intentions for the year in the time leading up to – and during – Rosh Hashanah is a great way to embrace the mitzvah of teshuvah, returning to your true essence as a Jew and discovering what matters most to you.
“In order to set goals that are aligned truly with our inner desires, we need to connect internally first,” Eisen said. This can be true for our family relationships, faith, or academic, athletic and social aspirations.
“The big thing is an idea without action is useless – but an idea [plus] action is where the biggest growth occurs and where our desires truly become our reality!”
When do you make your New Year’s resolutions? What kind of resolutions did you make? It’s always acceptable to reflect, redirect and refocus at any time.
By the way, speaking of new beginnings: Hi! My name is Monique Elliot, and I’m the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin’s new Emerging Gen columnist. Let’s work together this year to get at what’s most important to Ottawa’s Jewish millennials.