Creating resolutions you can actually achieve

Welcome to a new year, a new beginning, a time when most of us decide that this year, we’re going to do things differently, that we’re going to achieve some long-held goal that we’ve never been able to achieve prior to this. But this year, it’s going to be different. We’re going to be different.

This collective enthusiasm for change is contagious – and can fuel us – so let’s first congratulate ourselves for taking that initial step. Recognizing a need for change is very powerful!

However, I know from experience that it’s also important to recognize that most of us are champion wheel-spinners – despite all of our research, planning, conversations and declarations, we ultimately choose to stay within the limits of what we know … and thus embed ourselves deeper into an existence that frustrates us and blocks us from expressing our divine self.

As a coach and a member of clergy, I’d love to see all of us succeed at our goals (and thus be happy and at peace); therefore I feel it’s important to understand the mechanisms for making change, so that we can succeed and not just spin our wheels.

I’m going to break down what I’ve come to learn through my experiences as clergy and coach into three posts. In this post, I will cover some causes of our wheel-spinning and an important step in goal-attainment, which is Ownership of the Issue.

Addressing the emotional core
As a fundamental “Type A” personality, I used to think that the way to succeed was to Do Do DO ~ to plan and plot and think and intellectually problem-solve … but the challenge with that method was that I was approaching my goal from the conscious mind. I wasn’t addressing “what lies beneath” – which was my complete lack of self-confidence.

It was only recently, through my spiritual studies, that I realized attaining a goal is not about what I was doing – but that my results were based on how I feel. We are driven by deep-seated feelings that either propel us toward success or submarine our efforts.

To attain achievement, we have to break emotionally driven, destructive patterns; thus we have to address our emotional core.

So, how do we invite success into our lives?

Ownership of the issue we’re trying to address
When I was studying to become clergy, my teacher used to say, ”Own your shit.”* 

After I stopped giggling, I realized she was right on so many levels – not only do we need to own the wounded parts of ourselves, we need to own the fact that we are completely responsible for our behaviors, our reactions and the results we do and don’t produce in our world.

The longer we stay in a state of non-ownership, or “being the victim”, (i.e., blaming, making excuses, procrastinating, pitying ourselves), the longer we waste our time, alienate ourselves from our values and fritter away our potential.

Another one of my teachers likes to cite that the very first thing treatment programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, require people to do is declaratively own their situation:  “Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” 

Without ownership, we remain in denial (and I’m not talking about the river).

Freedom begins when we can say, “I may not like what’s happened but I can change it because I created it in the first place.”

In the next post, I will explore the next two facets of “achievement”:  Awareness and Benefits.

* This is why I love the Temple of Ara – we use lots of playfully ribald spiritual idioms.


  1. Very inspiring! Thanks for getting the new year off to a positive start :)

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