Six months into the New Year! Where have our good intentions and resolutions gone? It is far easier to avoid self-disappointment if we do not make promises we know we are not likely to keep (again).
Back in January, a friend sent me a video clip from motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Like many people, I have read tons of self-help books. Though I must recognize that they have had a significant role in shaping my story, after a while one wants to simply live each day without analyzing every emotion, motive or outcome. After all, how complicated do we need to make our lives if we have a fairly successful career, a good roof over our heads and food on the table?
At first I thought, “Here we go again. More New Year’s resolutions!” However, the following ideas soon got my full attention:
- Resolutions are nothing but a wish list (Ha! Quite true).
- It is nearly impossible to commit to a wish list (Ha! Again).
- Resolve, unlike resolutions, is a commitment (Yes!).
- People who make changes in their lives are not compelled by resolutions; they are compelled by chosen personal standards they resolve to live by (Wow!).
During the presentation, Tony often asks the viewer to think about a personal experience when life changes were possible and to identify the driving force behind such changes. Clearly, it was never a resolution; it was resolve and the choice to adopt higher personal standards. We come to a place where we cannot accept mediocrity or even “good enough” anymore or where we realize that critical change is in order, inevitable and quite desirable. From that point forward, the mind is so clear, so receptive and so ready that we are able to make progress almost effortlessly or at the very least quite willingly.
The word “standards” really hooked me. Isn’t it a focus on new and different standards that leads young people today to seek to own a home, become entrepreneurs, go on a long journey or practice day in and day out to become accomplished athletes? When we choose our standards, we in fact choose how we define ourselves and what we believe about ourselves. That is the tipping point for the mind, the one where it has no other option but to act in line with the most desirable self-definition. All flows from there.
Standards do not require competition with others. They require competition with ourselves, to move beyond “good enough”. Standards generate momentum and propel us toward personal excellence. We can make all the resolutions we want about letting go of a bad habit, for example, but what always gets us on the right path in the end is the resolve to adopt higher standards, to redefine who we believe we are and line up every word and action with that one, irresistible target. Then, the struggle to make changes is not an issue, because our minds are too focused on the target to notice any struggle.