Poise and New Year’s Resolutions Part One: Why Our Resolutions Almost Always Fail

by Gary on January 4, 2015 in


planbmainWhat Are Resolutions and Why Do We Make Them?
We make resolutions because we recognize the need to change.

The universe is emerging, and we are emergent beings. Our potential keeps calling to us, usually through the trouble we’re having, but sometimes through opportunities for growth.

Resolutions come out of the best of us, our highest consciousness stationed in the world of possibility.

Here’s how a mature man or woman might make the case for change and then identify some resolutions for 2015:
v     My energy is down.  My endurance doesn’t match my commitments at work and at home and in the community. I know very well the cause: I’m way over weight and I don’t exercise much.  My blood numbers showed a body in decline in test results last month.
v     Relationships in my family are troubling. My marriage to Linda has gone a bit stale.  Our children don’t confide in us as they once did, as if we have lost their trust.  We all seem to be going our separate ways.  I don’t think any of us is getting the love and support we need from each other.
v     I feel considerable stress about our financial realities:  I don’t make enough money, and I am not advancing at work.  I’m sure that I don’t disguise my lack of enthusiasm successfully with my employer or my colleagues and worry that I will get dumped before I make a move, even as my debts climb.

So, potential continues to call out with some urgency.

We really do want to change.

We want to become the person we intuitively know is the real person.

We make commitments.  We may share the commitments with loved ones to shore up our intentions, to put a marker out there in the universe.  We may write down an annual goal, monthly indicators and tactics, daily to-do lists.  We see clearly what we want to achieve.  We’re ready once again to tackle the big stuff.

New Year’s Resolutions:
v     Lose 25 lbs and get my blood numbers in the green.
v     Renew the flow of love in my family, make sure we care about each other and give each other the respect, intimacy, and support we need.
v     Get a promotion at work to increase salary and reduce debt.

A couple of weeks into the new year, we may find that the resolutions we made for the year have already faded.

What was I going to do differently?

Oh, yes, I intend to do that and that and that in 2015.  I haven’t really started yet.

I need to get going.

I’ll get to it. I really need to make some changes.

But these goals will probably not be reached.  The same resolutions were made last year.

Well, yes, I wanted these changes a year ago, and I still want them, so I must commit at a higher level, resolve to re-resolve.

I can do these things.

But you worry that you won’t do these things.

We Don’t Sustain Our Poise
We may have made our resolutions in a state of heightened awareness, in a state of balance, composure and equanimity, able to hear the call of our potential.

We saw the correct path because we were clear about what in our life was inadequate, unhealthy, or unproductive and what could release a more vibrant future.  We were poised when we made our resolutions, looking unblinkingly at our life in this moment. But, somehow, we lost our poise, forgetting our resolve, missing our targets, and then giving up.

Losing our poise, we:
1.    Can’t stay present to our commitments, so they keep drifting away in a haze of distraction.
2.    Fail to stay connected to ourselves—to our deepest desires.
3.    Begin to feel sorry for ourselves about what feels like a sacrifice we don’t want to make.  We can’t stay grateful enough to maintain our discipline.
4.    Don’t mobilize our creativity, dropping into default when the challenges of change inevitably appear.  We didn’t remember or even know that substantial change requires constant improvisation.
5.    Were unable to maintain a light heart as we navigated the change process, so we became earnest, heavy, and victimized.

We don’t change, or not much.  And now we’re less confident than ever that we can do things differently.

Learning, Not Action, Is the Key to Change
We are unable most of the time to change the way we think and behave simply by committing to action—assuming that the immediate need is doing.

We incorrectly assume that we know enough to pursue our change agenda successfully.  But, actually, we only know enough to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

Awareness is everything, and we don’t have enough awareness for transformation.

If we learn, if we become more aware, we will be able to focus our energies properly, experiment, keep learning, and enjoy the journey of change.

If we learn enough, we will actually achieve our goals.  If we learn,  we will emerge.

The next three posts will reveal some secrets to succeeding with resolutions. They will focus on:
1.    Knowing how much change to take on
2.    The secrets to mobilizing sufficient energy for a resolve
3.    The only adviser you need to listen to.

Please comment: share your experience with us as we map the universe of poise.

Note: This series on resolutions was originally posted on The Poised Life in 2013.

by Gary on January 4, 2015 in


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  1. Gary,

    Your writing has absolutely been one of the biggest most impacting teaching & learning discoveries to happen to me in the last year. I am grateful to you for it.

    For mental & spiritual development, I have joined a yoga studio, based on frequent advice to do so in order to achieve balance & peace. I find it personally difficult due to embarrassment & shame, but I go, I do it.

    Yesterday, the guest instructor totally humiliated me as inadequate & too slow, before & in front of the class. My face burned with shame; my heart was knocking into my ribs. She informed me I was too slow and a distraction to her focus and a distraction to her class.

    I decided I needed to leave; I made that decision.

    But, your writings and insights caught me. I stayed, because no one can do anything to me.

    After deciding to femain & persevere, your thoughts and ideas and concepts kept coming to me. The instructor could not do anything to me; I had to control my reaction, and stay & fight it out.

    I cannot claim I was totally connected and loving; I cannot pretend I was grateful.

    However, I did leave the class with the sudden realization that I *was* grateful to this person for shaming me – I had been able to prove to myself that I had truly overcome & beaten my anxiety about inadequacy and guilt & shame. I was honestly grateful for the episode, as a springboard for me to jump off of. I mentally thanked the shaming instructor, and I within two hours mentally sent her love. I didn’t have a problem; she did. I was able to focus just fine without distraction. I didn’t have a problem.

    This story is only really relevant because I generally find yoga a trial in embarrassment; in another situation, outside of yoga, her words may not have troubled me as much. But they did. But, your insights gave me strength and resolve and most importantly, tools.

    I downloaded your book last year but turned to it anew upon returning home and sitting to supper. I am grateful to you for your time & energy in sharing these lessons, which I continue to tackle and aim for.

    You have created a major influence upon me; thank you.

    All the best in 2015 and our continuing voyages.

    1. Jason, Glad to hear about the changes you’re making, especially realizing more than before that no one is doing anything to you. Once we learn that lesson as an energetic reality, we fly free. Gary

  2. Re-examining your writings and thinking and ideas, I have decided that this yoga teacher’s anger at me was not personal towards me, but a result of their own victim story (“why must I be forced to have this slowpoke in my class!”), and that my own reaction of fear and shrinking and then in turn anger was my own victim story talking, ie. I come each day, I work hard, I have gained improvement — I need and deserve to be recognized and saluted as hard-working and doing my best, I deserve to be noticed as a ‘trier’ and ‘doer’, and if criticized, I deserve the right to be angry and hurt and scarred, I have earned a ‘martyr’ badge for being singled out, etc.

    I have placed a hold on Florence Shinn’s writings at the library, as well as that of Ram Dass. I am grateful for your exposing me to these writers and hope to gain more courage to vanquish self-pity from their ideas and teachings. I liked your book and ideas, and concept of “making war on self-pity”; this year (the fact that it’s the beginning of a new year is a coincidence) I expect to find a newer even higher respect for them.

    I’m darned glad I was able to discover you at Tiny Buddha. Your book has really made investigating that site totally worthwhile.

    Happy new year. And, good luck on any resolutions. 😉 j/k

    1. Jason, We can get to the point where we welcome the petty tyrant (your yoga teacher). Petty tyrants give us a chance to test our poise. Warriors say that we should go find a petty tyrant if we don’t already have one.
      I notice that petty tyrants don’t show up in my life anymore–because they have no effect on me anymore. Gary