What do Living Your Values and New Year’s Resolutions have in common?

As the past month went by, I found myself considering the similarities between attempts to live values and attempts to meet New Year’s resolutions.  Both come from a good place, a place of desire for self growth and betterment, both the ideal version of ourselves that we would like to become or display to others.  And, both are so difficulty to live fully, despite our best intentions.  Why is it that we can so thoroughly want something, but we struggle to make it happen?

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“You will probably never meet your ideal self, even if you meet every goal”  

If you look at this from a more psychodynamic approach, one would see that our attempts to live values and meet resolutions are, in reality, overstretching our selves too much, too far, too often.  In these theories (think Freud, Jung, etc.) one has an ideal self that they are always striving towards, a persona they put out to the world.  This is our version of our best self.  it makes sense that we create our goals to help mold us into that self; our goals probably come from that self!We are not trying to set ourselves up fro failure.  We truly believe setting goals that live in the ideal self will help us become the ideal self.

But…that is not a reality.  Our real self, true self, can never fully become our ideal self.  We strive, we fail, we strive, we fail, and eventually we either stop striving or change our goal.

So, how do we moderate this?  How do we create goals that stretch ourselves just enough?  Challenging enough that we change, but not so ideal that we quit or regress?

What a fine line we each must walk to grow.  How fragile we really are.  We can want more than we can meet–setting ourselves up for failure time and again, then taking it personally when we can’t meet our own ideals.

Let me share a secret with you…you will probably never meet your ideal self, even if you meet every goal, every resolution, every hope.  As your self grows and changes, encompassing previous ideal selves, so too does your ideal self–always evolving as you do, always representing the next best version of you.

If you are on this journey of living values with us…please each time you stop to evaluate yourself, your family, and kick yourself for not meeting your goals, or not doing “good enough”, remember that your goals evolve, you evolve, and if you’re always striving to be an ideal you, you’ll never be good enough.  However, take a moment to look back a year, two, five, and see how yourself evolved!  How many ideal selves have you already absorbed into your current self?  How many additional conversations, interactions, and activities have you done with your family as a result of this journey that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Hang in there…and ENJOY the JOURNEY and the (albeit relatively small) fruits of your labor!