I know why your New Year’s resolutions may have failed this year. But, first, let me tell you a story.
The year was 1912. The doors of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston opened with a star-studded gala – drenched with decadence, bedazzled with jewels and energized by the sounds and movements of clinking crystal, the soft echoes of laughter and the shuffle of ragtime dancers. All in attendance were granted a tour of the building, provoking them to “ooh” and “aah” at its seven floors of luxurious guest rooms and private suites.
It was a lavish and pampering affair, oozing with opulence – one which would carve its own space into the city’s history. The guests lifted their glasses with glee, toasting to the start of the hotel’s promising success. It was an occasion to be known and seen. But, what those in attendance did not have the luxury of witnessing was the true magic of the hotel’s beginning: The hours architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh spent crafting and refining his vision. The limestone and brick-by-brick construction. The painting of the walls. The laying of the carpet. The ironing of the curtains. The hanging of the chandeliers. The hiring of the staff.
How easily we forget that every story’s foundation is built behind the curtain; not by what is seen under the light of the chandelier.
As we cut the tape and open our doors to welcome a new year, it is easy to glamorize. It’s a fresh, blank slate – a dazzling opportunity. New yoga mats, new meal plans, new haircuts, new shoes, new books, new lists, new planners and new affirmations.
On the surface, it appears as though we are all destined to really “get it right this time.” But, that which is lurking behind those new and shiny walls of our bold declarations and promises will be the truth of whether or not our results last. And, the unforgiving truth is this: The majority of New Year’s resolutions are either abandoned entirely or crash and burn into obscurity.
According to an article published by U.S. News in 2015, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are lost by February. This means that, by the time Cupid draws back his bow, those yoga mats are often collecting dust. By the time summer invites us to come out and play in its open-aired vulnerability, that business proposal or fresh marketing strategy may have long been shoved in the bottom of a drawer.
So, then, what is the catch? What is the key to a groundbreaking and sustaining 2018?
It’s quite simple. You need to conduct a thorough assessment of your inner architect.
Ladies and Gentleman, Meet Your Mental Dream Team
Did you know you have a powerful team of two inside of you – one that can bring you all that you dream of, or one that can dim your every flame of desire before it has a chance for its flicker to be seen? Their titles are Wish and Belief, and it’s important that you become well-acquainted with them.
If Wish is the visionary of your story, Belief is the architect. So, let us consider what an architect does.
He collects creative ideas and maps out a plan for them to be realized. He decides what is possible for the venture, and takes action to implement it. He coordinates with builders and inspects the job site, deciding what will or will not be permitted. And, he oversees the project from beginning to end – even when it rains, construction is delayed, materials or lost or something goes awry.
Picture it: Wish gives Belief an excitable nudge, suggesting, “A winding staircase! That would be lovely! Oh, and how about a space for a box garden in the back?”
Depending on what kind of architect Belief is, he may respond in a variety of ways. If he is confident, open-minded and optimistic, he may say, “Absolutely, Wish. Let’s begin at once to make this happen!” But, if he was conditioned to be cautious, cynical and doubtful, he may instead say, “Don’t pester me with your silly ideas, Wish. This project is not worthy of that level of extravagance. We do not have the budget, the time nor the team.”
Or, worse, he may agree to Wish’s ideas but then grow frustrated somewhere along the way, tossing his hands into the cold air and walking away halfway through construction – money and time wasted with no reward.
The rub is this: If you don’t employ a mighty architect of belief to work with all that you envision for yourself, there won’t be anyone building your mighty dreams. Your ‘resolutions’ will remain elusive – floating around in the ether, bumping into all of the other brilliant and magical ideas never to be realized.
That’s right. What I’m saying is your beliefs and wishes must become mutually collaborative business partners. They must be working alongside one another at the same construction site, staring at the same blueprint, nodding in agreement and shaking hands over the same decisions. Because the result of your 2018 will be the direct result of what you truly, unabashedly believe is possible – and probable – for yourself.
You may be thinking: So, what do I do? Who was ever responsible for hiring my disaster of an architect Belief, anyway? And, how do I replace him at once?
This is the fun part.
Let’s do some time travel. When you were a small child, your brain waves were in a state called “theta.” You were downloading information, possessing almost no analytical skills. Your brain served as a sponge – soaking up all of the conversations you overheard, the television programs you viewed, the interactions you witnessed and the rules you were given. You learned which lines never to cross and which stones never to overturn. By way of impact and repetition, you learned your ABC’s, favorite songs and how to ride a bicycle. And you also learned ideas about food, money, love, relationships, sharing, self-worth and religion.
Then – voila! Much like a computer hardwired program, your core beliefs and behaviors were imprinted. The program was written.
And, guess what? Even though you have come so far and learned so much since then, you’re still operating from that core programming today – yes, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years later. And, if it contains limiting information which daringly conflicts with your wildest dreams, it panics each time you try to defy its boundaries.
Why, do you ask? Blame it on that which rests in the frontal portion of your brain’s temporal lobe: the amygdala. Though he may be tiny, he thinks he is the mighty guardian of security. Like the quintessential mall cop, he perceives the foreign and unexpected as a raucous and, thus, responds by releasing neurotransmitters and sounding off alarms. When introduced to something in stark contrast with what he knows, he shouts, “Hold up! Excuse me. We have an intruder in the building!”
Though he may sound like a jerk, he is just trying to protect you. This explains why most people have a frustrating time leaving a job they despise, untangling from a toxic relationship or resisting unhealthy foods they have long indulged in. The amygdala wants to hold onto all that it knows for sure.
Contrarily, the individuals who stick with their intention to change careers, untangle from that relationship and forever alter their way of eating have tapped into a place much deeper within themselves; they have changed their beliefs and values, thereby hijacking the information stored in their not-so-mighty amygdala. They have given this guardian of security a new set of guidelines and tools to work with.
The good news is that, by way of conscious repetition, as well as various other methods used to access the subconscious mind, your brain can be trained to accept new (and better!) information.
So, where to begin in preparation for the upcoming year?
I suggest starting with what scares the bloody demons out of you. What rattles your inner cage and makes your skin hot? This is important to note. Pain, fear and doubt are messengers; they tell us the areas we need to reassess and reassemble. They tell us where are wires our crossing, where our paint is chipping, where are pipes are molding, where are fault lines exist. They tell us what beliefs are keeping us from ever cutting the tape on our grandest endeavors and goals.
So, begin by asking yourself the following questions: What kind of life do I deserve? How does the life I feel I deserve compare to what I’m wishing for? What are my core beliefs about money, love, luck, health and possibility? Do I trust the divine powers that be to have my back? Do I have my own back?
You may have to do some extensive time traveling to uncover the most stubborn messages written into your programming. And you will have to gut all of the self-sabotaging ones and rebuild for new and self-supporting beliefs to make up your infrastructure. Be patient with yourself. And remember: No permanent change will ever come as long as the same old architect is making all of the rules and divvying out all of the orders.