Written by: Shola on The Positivity Solution
Happy New Year!
Isn’t it great? Once the calendar turned from 2015 to 2016, everything became fresh and new again. The slate is wiped clean, old drama has disappeared, and all that was wrong with 2015 is now a distant memory in 2016.
Yeah, if it were only that easy.
I love the start of a new year as much as anyone, but thinking that our lives will positively change due solely to the calendar changing, is crazy talk.
As always, our world will only change if we do.
That’s why the above quote from Pema Chodron is so important.
If we choose to avoid changing in 2016, then we’ll be scheduled to get more of the painful lessons that we were running from, fighting against, or being overwhelmed by in 2015. Even worse, since we didn’t learn the lessons we needed to learn last year, we’ll have to deal with the advanced curriculum this time around (which predictably, will suck.)
Yes, nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know, new year or not.
On a positive note, we can break this tired, re-run cycle in 2016, but it will start by doing something very counter-intuitive:
We need to forget about feeling good.
Why Feeling Good Isn’t Enough
Recently, I was listening to Brian Johnson’s podcast Optimize, and he was interviewing Tony Schwartz, the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.
During the interview, Tony said something that hit me hard.
He said that there is a big difference between feeling good and feeling good about yourself.
Man, this is so true. In my opinion, this is the key between ensuring that this year is much different than 2015. Let’s use a simple example to illustrate this point.
Let’s say that you decided that you’re going to write a book in 2016 (even if you’re not, just play along with me.)
In order to make this dream of yours a reality, you have decided to wake up an hour earlier than normal to get some uninterrupted writing done before you have to get ready for work. On the night of December 31st, you confidently set the alarm before going to bed for the night.
Seven hours later, the moment of truth arrives–your alarm goes off.
Here are the two obvious options that you’re faced with as the clock/smartphone is buzzing on your bedside table:
A) Hit the snooze button and stay in your cozy bed.
B) Get out of bed, and start writing.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a meaningless, isolated decision. What you choose to do next has much bigger implications on your life than you might think.
If you choose Option A, you have chosen to feel good. If you made this choice, you’re not alone. Most people want to feel good, and there are few things that feel better than staying in your warm bed in the middle of winter, especially when you’re tired.
Here’s the problem though–that “good” feeling will evaporate the moment that you’re finally fully awake and out of bed.
Worse than that–chances are that you will emotionally beat yourself up all day knowing that you broke a promise to yourself, and that you let yourself down.
This is a self-esteem killer.
But what if you chose Option B, instead?
Why Feeling Good About Yourself is the Answer
If the alarm went off and you dragged yourself out of bed (even if you didn’t feel like it), you made a life-altering choice:
You decided to do something that will make you feel good about yourself. And unlike Option A, this good feeling isn’t a temporary one.
Does it feel good to get out of bed when you’re tired and cold? Probably not, but who cares? By simply getting out of bed to write, you’re now playing for a much bigger prize than temporarily feeling good.
The feelings of accomplishment, keeping a promise to yourself, and getting one step closer to your dream will give you something much more meaningful than a warm blanket and an extra few minutes of sleep ever could.
It makes you feel good about yourself–aka, genuine self-esteem.
Even better, the feeling that you will have once your book is completed will be unlike any positive emotion that you have ever experienced in your life. Knowing that you were able to overcome your desire to temporarily feel good in exchange for creating something that will make you feel permanently good about yourself, is a game-changing choice.
This is the fastest–and most effective way–to build self-esteem.
That’s Great, But I’m Not Writing a Book
Okay, let’s set aside the book example for a minute, and apply the Feel Good/Feel Good About Yourself choice to three common challenges you might be facing in 2016.
1. Losing Weight and/or Getting Healthier
(Feel Good): Binge eating the same comfort foods that you ate in 2015, or skipping out on the gym and watching DVR’ed shows instead.
(Feel Good About Yourself): Finally reaching your target weight, completing your first 5K race, having your physician compliment you on all of the positive changes you’ve made, or simply having more energy everyday.
2. Getting out of an Unhealthy Relationship
(Feel Good): Bury yourself in different, but equally unhealthy, distractions (excessive social media usage, booze/drugs, constant shopping, sleeping nonstop, etc.) to numb you from realizing how terrible your relationship really is.
(Feel Good About Yourself): Take action to deal with the problems in your relationship, and if that doesn’t work, leave to find the love you deserve.
3. Completing the Project That Appears on Our New Year’s Resolution List Every January
(Feel Good): Procrastinate, lie to yourself that the project doesn’t really mean that much to you anyway, justify that you have all of the time in the world to do it later (even though you definitely don’t), and focus on things that are much easier and require much less effort.
(Feel Good About Yourself): Finally complete the project, and create something that you can be proud of forever.
I’m sure that you can see the difference.
Regardless of what you’re trying to do in 2016, you will be presented with the choice of either settling for what feels good in the moment, or working toward what will make you feel good about yourself for a lifetime.
What Choice Will You Make in 2016?
Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” -Pema Chodron
I had to include Pema Chodron’s quote again, because we must remember the truth in her words.
If we consistently choose to take action that makes us feel good about ourselves, instead of merely feeling good, then almost any meaningful positive change in life can be ours.
You know this is true, because you’ve already done this.
I am willing to bet that you have accomplished something huge in your life where you had to put “feeling good” on the backburner in order to achieve something so much bigger than temporary satisfaction.
And in doing so, not only did you feel better about yourself and put a stop to repeating the same painful lesson year after year, but chances are that you positively changed your life in the process.
Well, it’s time to do it again.
Happy New Year, my friend–I know that you’re ready for it.