I suspect one reason New Year resolutions are so attractive is because humans have an “innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” (Pink, p.10) As Daniel Pink uncovered in his book, Drive, humans are motivated by autonomy or self-direction, mastery or the desire to get better at something, and purpose or linking one’s desires in the service of a cause greater than oneself. (If you want to learn more about Daniel Pink’s motivation research, then check out this animated video.)
Pink did a great job explaining what motivates us, and as many of us know, motivation in and of itself is not enough to affect change. If motivation were enough, then almost ALL of us would complete our New Year resolutions to our satisfaction.
Please stop beating yourself up and calling yourself names. Truly, you can, in good consciousness, stop telling yourself you have a motivation problem, or didn’t have a good plan, or, my personal favorite, didn’t have enough willpower. (Source)
As Lisa Lahey and her colleague Robert Kegan discovered in their research, motivation is necessary but not sufficient to creating change. Instead of having a problem with motivation, Lahey and Kegan believe we fail to change because we have unconscious goals which compete with our conscious desires.
When I first learned of Lahey’s and Kegan’s work, I felt a click: something fell into place.“Yes!” I wanted to shout, “I knew willpower was not the problem!” (I hope all y’all’s Inner Critics heard me shout.)
It was so refreshing to hear willpower was not the problem.
Our suffering is caused by the assumptions which secretly inform our behavior. That’s right! Most of us have willpower in spades. What we don’t always have is insight about the assumptions which influence our behavior.
According to Lahey and Kegan, change often does not happen because we are protecting unconscious goals which compete with our conscious goals. Another way to view this behavior is to recognize we are highly motivated individuals with a strong sense of self-preservation. We just don’t always know what we are trying to protect.
If you are wanting to make change in your life, i.e., New Year resolutions, and are struggling to meet your goals, then consider what is operating underneath the surface. (A much kinder alternative to letting your Inner Critic have free rein.)
Lahey’s and Kegan’s book “Immunity to Change” is a great resource and includes worksheets to help you uncover the assumptions which are impacting your behavior. Another resource is working with a counselor or life coach who can hold space for you as you bring the unconscious into light.
A third option is to be a part of an intentional group which is dedicated to being thoughtful and effective stewards within their community.
One such group is forming at Shakti in the Mountains and is part of the new Stewardship program.
During this winter season, there will be several opportunities to explore this new program through one-and-done workshops. The first workshop is happening this Saturday, January 7, and is designed to help you set intentions for the next year. If you would like to come, then please register no later than this Friday for the Visioning Workshop.
In April, a fully immersive stewardship intensive will begin: an experience which will require a longer commitment. Stay tuned. I am in the process of writing the information page and will have more news to share later this month.
In the meantime, please check out the January Shakti events listed below. We have lots of ways for you to engage and to be in community.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!
Shadow Work: Uncovering our Unconscious Needs
A 6 week series
To support emerging leaders, the Shadow Work series is being offered this fall to build resilience and freedom. The goal of this series is to unearth your unconscious needs so you may eliminate limiting beliefs and healthily address your needs.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where people could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Kim is a licensed professional counselor and a yoga teacher. She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program as well as the Shake Your Soul Yoga Dance program. Kim is very interested in somatic expressive therapy, archetypal psychology, gardening, herbalism, astrology, wisdom traditions, and regenerative economics.
Kim continues to build and to support inclusive, vibrant communities. She spends most of her time mentoring leaders, guiding healing programs, and providing mental health counseling.
Sign up here to receive updates on free community events, workshops, and more.