This time of year is special.
While many individuals are focused on the holidays--including the recovery from them--a select few are focused on engaging in a self-auditing process.
These highly motivated and successful individuals are taking a few days to review the goals they set for themselves over the previous year and see how they measured up. They are taking notes about what went well, where they fell short, and how they'd like to approach the next year.
This time of year is perfect for this type of self-reflection.
After engaging in celebrations and time with family members, the next few days provide individuals with the rare opportunity to look at themselves in the mirror. To brainstorm. And to set themselves up for future success.
Unfortunately, most people fail. Time and time again. Each year, they set lofty goals that they are unable to attain.
That's because New Years is a consumerist's best friend.
It allows people to buy products--green smoothies, juice cleanses, and gym memberships--to make them feel as if they are making meaningful progress towards their ambitious goals, despite the fact that they haven't done anything meaningful at all.
Most people throw money at their ambitions so that they can sleep at night.
The truth is that most people don't actually want to go through the difficulty associated with making actual changes, they just want to feel good about themselves.
They want to feel as if they are making positive changes.
As if they are growing. As if they are moving one step closer to happiness and fulfillment. But they are fundamentally satisfied enough with the small comforts--screen-based stimulation, food, and sex--that they don't actually want to change.
The brutal truth is that most people are satisfied with mediocrity.
One example that I see each year are gym memberships. As someone who frequents the gym (albeit less than in the past), I notice a huge increase in membership following the new year.
The "resolutioners," I call them. Enthusiasm and earnest desire for improvement aside, these individuals are notorious for making life more difficult for regular gym goers.
They don't know how to use equipment. They use terrible exercise techniques that leaves them vulnerable to injury. And they don't understand gym etiquette.
When I think about these gym resolutioners it makes me feel sad.
Not because of their lack of knowledge or even because they disrupt my routine, but because 98 percent of them are gone within 3 months. And that means they're all living in unhappiness but feeling just stimulated enough to avoid making.
And these people aren't alone. Most individuals fail at achieving their goals, which reduces my enthusiasm for New Year's resolutions.
In my mind, there's a very simple solution. But I know most people won't like it. Because my method requires responsibility--and most people fear responsibility.
Because if you're not accountable for your actions then everything is easier. You're simply the victim.
You're allowed to complain, feel bad for yourself, make temporary changes, and regress to the mean. You're satisfied with your state of suffering and the little stimulation that takes the edge off.
But if you're unsatisfied with that type of mediocre existence, then I'm here to tell you that you can do something about it.
The one and only mindset you need to adopt this year is to look at every single situation as an opportunity to learn something.
It sounds easy, doesn't it? I promise it's not.
From my perspective, every single relationship is an opportunity to learn something about yourself--your wants, needs, desires, fears, shortcomings, strengths, and conditioning.
Every interaction brings with it the possibility of refinement and increasing self-awareness. And every single action and consequence of that action are educational moments to learn something valuable about yourself, others, and the world.
When you shift your mentality from doing something extra to changing the quality of being, you're creating a more fundamental change.
You're building a foundation that self-corrects with feedback. One that is guaranteed to help you meet your goals and enjoy the process of attaining them.
Because when you change the lens through which you view yourself, others, and the world, everything changes. Your increased self-awareness brings with it increased responsibility for your quality of life.
When you look at every situation with sensitivity, curiosity, and introspection, then you begin understanding how your actions and inactions create your life-situation.
You start comprehending how where you spend your attention literally creates your mental state. And with all of these insights comes the responsibility for action.
Because when you start developing the ability to see your path then you have the responsibility to stay on it. Your integrity is on the line. You're accountable to yourself.
If, for example, you continually fail with your diet each year, the practice I'm discussing challenges you to think about why you're failing. To truly pause and contemplate what factors are contributing to your failure. And then once you understand (or even if you don't), take a new action.
Take notes and refine your approach until you get the outcome you desire.
Perhaps this is the year you consult with a nutritionist. Maybe you start with smaller changes like using an app to track calories. Or maybe you build a social network to support the dietary changes you're trying to instill.
The point of this practice is to realize that what you're doing isn't working. That you are responsible for the outcome. And that you need to try something different this year.
That's real self-intelligence. That's true self-awareness. And that's authentic accountability.
For 2018, don't be the same type of person you've always been--the one satisfied with temporary and fleeting pleasure. The one struggling and never quite following through on significant improvements that you want to make.
Keep your promises to yourself. Live with integrity. And start approaching each situation as an opportunity to learn.