As we near the end of the 1st month of 2015, many people are starting to falter on their recently established New Years Resolutions. The “Get back in shape”, “Start saving more money” or “Read more often” goals that have been set are starting to lose the excitement they held only a few weeks ago. Why is it that something that had us so motivated to improve has now become more of a chore than an opportunity? I believe this stems from the interior motive. The way we form our goals and habits is often the product of thoughts such as: “How can I be a better person?” “What do I want to accomplish that will provide satisfaction in my life?”. These questions are nearly the correct ones to ask, but not quite.
I’m going to admit to you that my goals this year were selfish. Here is my list of “resolutions”:
- Be Nice
- Simplify & Organize
- Exercise & Eat Healthy
I am also going to admit to you, that up until this week I have been very successful with my resolutions but have started to feel the slippery slope of lost motivation steepen. At first glance, all of these goals seem to be noble and worth while. I have no specific monetary or materialistic goals for this year, they are all related to emotional, physical or mental self-improvement. But that word there is the key: “Self”.
As I’ve been reading more this year, I’ve started to learn about how the “Self” is an illusion. I won’t go into great detail, but what I’m finding is that how we perceive the world and our belief that we are an individual experiencing it from one view and that we alone have control over our actions or even our thoughts is not entirely accurate. I believe that this may be part of the reason why my goals (along with so many other people’s) tend to lose their luster after a fairly short amount of time.
The problem isn’t the goal itself, but rather the motivation behind it. I have hopes and dreams of being a great person. I have recently shifted my perspective from wanting to HAVE to wanting to BE (see my earlier post “Be Over Have”). Although I consider this shift in perspective to be a personal accomplishment, I feel it isn’t quite enough. It is still too interior, too much about my-“self”.
I believe that to achieve true motivation, inspiration and happiness, one must expand our view of “self” to include the perspectives of those around us. When I review my goals I now think to myself:
“I want to BE a nice person so that my fiance enjoys a happier marriage.”
“I want to simplify and organize my life so that I can better serve my employer.”
“I want to meditate so that I have peace of mind and can share that with others in my daily encounters.”
“I want to exercise & eat healthy so that I can be a healthy example for others and so that I live a long life that I will be able to share with my future children and grandchildren.”
“I want to learn as much as I can so that I can share it with others and spark their interest in learning about the world.”
“I want to travel so that I become more experienced and enlightened to the realities of other people in this world and be able to share what I learn from those experiences with my friends and family.”
You see, by making my goals more about how they will affect others, it provides a different type of motivation that isn’t there when it is simply about improving myself. The urge to help others is something that is deeply rooted in the human DNA. We have evolved as a species by learning to work together and help each other grow.
If you are having a hard time staying motivated or inspired to achieve your goals (or even to finish the task at hand or that chore at home) think more about how it will help others rather than help yourself.