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Make any resolutions this year? Don’t worry, I’m not advocating that you do, and I’m also not suggesting you join the backlash anti-resolution movement either. I’m considering something that sets the whole resolution thingee slightly on its head.

It doesn’t matter whether you succeed or fail at attaining your resolutions this year. That goes for whether your resolution is as ambitious as winning the next noble peace prize, starting a company, writing that book, or as personal as not losing your temper at your kids. Nope, doesn’t matter. Before you think “Dawn has finally lost it”, consider this:

What if what really matters, perhaps what only matters, is the quality of mind that you bring to yourself as you pursue your goals? For instance, many of us relate to our goals from a place of fear. Easy to do, as fear is a potent motivator. But in an adaptive way, fear shuts down parts of our brain that allow us to experience pleasure. When I went to graduate school, I was determined to complete both my masters and doctoral degrees in less than 4 years. A lot of sacrifice and a ridiculous amount of work, but in three years and change, I was awarded my Ph.D. Those of you who knew me back then can attest to the fact that I was a serious maniac during that time. I regret to say that I treated myself like a machine, I’d work and work till I broke down, take a few days off, and then get right back on the treadmill. Not bad, except I was physically sick and the costs on my relationships and peace of mind were palpable.

This leads me to ask, if you can achieve great heights, but harm yourself in the process, then is it really success? If your resolution, for example, is to lose five pounds but you approach it from a position of fear or inadequacy, then I venture to guess that you might be in danger of reducing the quality of your life, despite whatever the scale or other barometers of “success” says.

This begs the question: Is it possible to keep your goal in mind, but to connect to it from a place of joy, instead of fear? Take losing the five pounds, for instance, you can attempt to do this by starving yourself to get quicker results, or you can approach your goal the way you would approach a friend, calmly and with patience and balance. Perhaps you’ll lose weight a little slower, but what if you do so with more joy and kindness to yourself? What if the outward beauty you seek is really a wish to relate to yourself with deeper compassion and inner beauty? What may be the fundamental defining moment of 2012 is not whether you succeeded or didn’t in your resolution; it is how you treated yourself on your journey. Here’s my vote to dub 2012 the year of The Inner Revolution!

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