Dr. JOYLYN Maniaci
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by Dr. JOYLYN Maniaci

The #1 Reason Resolutions Fail and How to Set Up for Success in 2015

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution and it didn’t stick? This seems to be more the rule than the exception. And still we keep on trying each year; sometimes resolving to change the exact same thing as the year before, sometimes coming up with a different resolution. So, why doesn’t it work? What is keeping us from the outcome we’re striving for?


Most commonly, the thing that people resolve to change is that which they have judged as bad, undesirable, or in need of improvement, and therefore in need of change.

What is judgment?

Judgments includes conclusions, projections, expectations, and separations. 

Conclusions: statements of finality

“This is horrible.” “It’s always like this.” “She’s never going to change.”

There is no question with conclusion. There is no opening, no way to change anything.

Projections: not dealing with what is true, what is, but what we think something is

Projections can often be identified by the inclusion of the word “you.”

“You are just like you’re father.” “You know what you’re problem is?”

When we do this, it’s like we are talking and acting things out with a hologram (like in Star Wars), not with the actual person/people/beings present.

Expectations: regarding as likely to happen or anticipating the occurrence of something (often based on a projection that someone will behave the same as we believe we would behave in a given situation). Expectations can often be identified by the inclusion or implication of the word should.

“This should have been easy.” “He should know better?” “If you knew me, you would understand.”

Most people are shoulding all over themselves. Are you full of should? This is a guaranteed set up for failure or disappointment.

Separations: increasing the distance between two things; most often in avoidance of something determined to be undesirable. Separation is common, especially in the metaphysical realm through the avoidance of “negative energy.”

“I just can’t be around her negative energy.” “I never want to see you again.” “I’m sorry I’m being so negative, I know I should just get over it.” (separation from self)

Separation doesn’t allow for change, only compartmentalization.

What is the problem with judgment?

  • It is unsustainable— Because it is a lie. The bottom line is that what we’ve judged as valuable or desirable is that which we believe we cannot have or be. But any form of lack is a lie. We are infinite and therefore have the capacity to be, have, or do anything.  (Really, even though it doesn’t look or feel like it a lot of times).
  • It only leads to more judgment, not true change. Most people believe that judgment is necessary to motivate, but this isn’t how it actually works. It is actually the huge amount of energy to keep judgment in place. This huge expenditure of energy is actually that drain that creates the need for motivation. For instance, the immediacy that we have placed on our desires (expectation) and use as evidence that it is not showing up and we can’t have it (projection and conclusion) is actually a projection (the feeling of urgency rather than the desire for change). That’s a lot of judgment and a lot of energy going to keeping all the judgments in place. That requires motivation to change that dynamic.
  • It moves you away from your past, but NOT into your future. Because judgment begets judgment, it will only lead to more judgment, more separation. It can create distance from what you had or have, but that does not mean you will get any closer to what you’d like to have in your life. If all the focus is on what you don’t want for your life, then there hasn’t been shift in attention to what you would like to have in your life. How can you create your life if you have no idea what it is you’d really like?
  • It creates a no-win situation. The only way to “win” with a New Year’s Resolution that is based on the destruction or avoidance of something you don’t like about yourself, is to avoid or destroy a part of yourself. So, in order to “succeed” you must effectively avoid or destroy some part of you. This takes and incredible amount of energy and effort that creates a very fragile system that often leads to the further depleting endeavor of trying to control all variables in life so as to maintain the delicate homeostasis of “success.” Again, unsustainable. But even more, the love or approval that you so desperately long for is contingent on your success, making it an absolute necessity because you won’t allow yourself to have it unconditionally. Once that parameter is set, then the rebellious toddler/teenager in you comes out and you have to resist it because it is a necessity. So then you are resisting and fighting your own success. This is madness.
  • It eliminates the possibilities of your future by taking you out of the present. In the New Year’s Resolution is the idea or hope that a decision will last and carry you through to whatever it is you’ve resolved to have or be that you’ve concluded and defined as success. But no matter how hard we try, the absolute unshakeable truth is that nothing lasts forever. All we ever have is the present moment and the possibilities and choices in it. In the present we have choices that will open up possibilities and more choices. In the present we have the ability to flow, adapt, change, and “have it all.” But the moment we decide and conclude what success is and make it an all-or-nothing situation, then we have lost the flexibility, fluidity, and fun that is required for real change to occur.

How do you change this?

Stop judging. Short, simple. Sometimes easy, sometimes not so easy.

Change takes tenacity. This resolution solution requires persistence and the willingness to “wash, rinse, and repeat” as many times as it takes until you no longer judge you, even if it takes the rest of your life. And, speaking from experience, this might be a time to “call in the pros” and get coaching or get your Bars® run to make this process easier and faster. This is one of the very few times where I say “there is no other way.’’ Stop judging. You don’t have to know what comes next; you don’t have to “figure out” what to do instead. Just choose NOT to judge. Awareness of fun alternatives to judgment come AFTER you choose, not before. Some coaching or meditation can be very helpful to get you through the unfamiliar space and time where judgment used to be.

Second, be aware of the possibilities and probabilities. By this, I’m saying, include the possibility of “failure.” Most people think that to talk about failure increases the probability of it’s outcome. I don’t agree. Instead of "wishing,  and hoping, and thinking, and praying," and ignoring anything else, plan for failure—the times when habit wins and you choose against your resolution. By this, I do not mean that you begin with the intention to fail. I mean that you acknowledge the great likelihood that, by virtue of the time you’ve been struggling with the situation and habit, that you will fall into said pattern again along your way. And, instead of beating yourself up or giving up when this happens, have a plan for action to get you “back on the wagon.” It is actually very simple: create a “failure gesture” that you can use to acknowledge your choice and leave it in that moment. For instance, shake your hands, shake your head, give a deep sigh or exhale—DO something that marks your choice point and acknowledges that a new choice point is now available and start again.

"Repetition is the mother of skill." You are building a new skill, developing a new way of being-- whatever it is. It is going to take practice. Be gentle with the process.

Give yourself a break, not an excuse to quit.

Finally, an alternative to resolutions altogether is to choose a theme for the year. Choose 1-2 words that capture the essence of what you’d like to create and have in your life this year. For instance: abundance, laughter, ease, etc. Select a target, a direction to move you into your future (versus away from your past). Use these words as a guide, a mantra, an energy to play with and use in your day-to-day throughout the year to bring about the change you’d like to see in your life.

There you have it: The way out, through, and beyond the resolution into the possibility. 

Happy New Year!

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