The start of a new year is often considered a time of reflection and renewal, goal setting and resolution making. Many people see this time as an opportunity to reflect and plan a roadmap to our best selves, following the tradition of setting resolutions to create change in our lives.
But according to research, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
So why do a staggering 92% of us fail to achieve our goals?
The research reveals that when setting goals and resolutions, we tend to believe that all we need to do is simply re-shuffle our habits – for example, setting goals to get in shape by saying “ I’ll just go to the gym more.” Or, resolving to improve your general mood by saying “This year is the year I finally WILL start getting more sleep.”If we are honest with ourselves, this ‘habit shuffling’ is a way of avoiding real change.
It turns out that when it comes to creating real change, why you do something (motivation) matters more than what you do (behaviour). While it is perfectly natural to want to re-shape our habits, what we should be focusing on is on real change and therefore, exploring what drives us.
So we suggest that, instead of this superficial level of change, you make this the year that you connect to your true identity and figure out what you REALLY want for 2019.
Using the Enneagram as a roadmap for realising your true potential
This powerful tool can help transform your life by revealing who you really are and what really motivates you to create lasting positive shifts in your life. Not only can the Enneagram therefore help you set resolutions that you can achieve – it can set you on a path to deep personal growth in the process. Here are some tips for crafting resolutions for each Enneagram Type:
Motivated by the need to be good and right, Enneagram Ones do not reserve their resolutions only for the beginning of a new year – they constantly strive to be a good person. Their appreciation of self-control, integrity and quality are important in making and sticking to resolutions, and their ability to set standards and structure tasks may give them clarity. As a consequence, however, their resolutions may be geared towards being extremely self-disciplined and consistently striving for perfection. Ones may tend to over-amplify their already self-disciplined nature, striving always for 100% or more and leaving them with minimal time to relax.
In setting a resolution, Ones may benefit from putting some time aside to unwind and let loose, be it laughing every day, practising deep breathing, cooking a meal with a loved one (without following a recipe!) or dancing and singing along to music that you like. Letting your hair down and relaxing, even to a small extent, can provide you with perspective, fun and balance in your life
Being liked and appreciated is what motivates Enneagram Twos. This makes them the most ‘other-orientated’ of all the types. Their resolutions may focus on how they can be more available, generous and supportive of others, build their relationships or strive to make the world more loving. In order to feel loved and connected to themselves, Twos try to be of service to others. Their inner critic tells them anything other than placing all of their attention on others would be selfish, so Twos find it very difficult to focus on their own needs and desires. To make matters worse, when Twos do set a resolution, following through can prove difficult, as they are easily distracted by the needs and priorities of others, often overriding their desire to meet their own resolutions.
Therefore, when setting a resolution as a Two, practice turning toward yourself—including YOUR needs, YOUR feelings, and YOUR desires, to see a deeper truth.
Enneagram Threes strive for success and value achievement. As a result, they are motivated and energised by setting goals and resolutions. They are fired up by being seen as successful and avoid failure at all costs. Image is important to them and they are motivated by their need to outshine others and be the best, suggesting that they may find it easy to achieve resolutions that put them in competition with others. As a Three, when setting a resolution, you may be tempted to aim for a goal that would allow you to appear accomplished and successful to others, but in doing so, you may lose sight of your own desires.
Rather, when setting a resolution, unplug yourself from the external world (including your phone and social media) and give yourself time to consult your heart. This could include focusing on yourself and making space for solo time, going into nature, walking on the beach, hiking up a mountain, an early morning swim or indulging yourself by taking a mindful daily shower. This will allow you to look within and discover what will truly bring meaning and value to your life, rather than seeking validation from others.
Enneagram Fours thrive on being unique and authentic, and are likely to avoid the more typical New Year’s Resolutions. They value their individualism; self-expression is important to them, suggesting that their resolutions are likely to be linked to a deep sense of purpose or a desire to change the world. They are romantics at heart and likely to imagine creating something of extraordinary meaning for themselves and others, but they may lack the self-discipline needed to bring those dreams to fruition.
When setting resolutions, including pragmatic considerations of planning and organisation can help breathe life into your dreams. As part of your imagining and envisioning, break down the steps and discipline required. This could include committing to a schedule, plan or calendar in an effort to help you finish tasks and share your gifts with the world.
Enneagram Fives are motivated by the need to understand, so their resolutions may focus on their desire to learn something new – a research project, a new course they want to do or spending more time reading books, for example. Fives focus on conserving resources, figuring things out and gathering enough knowledge before they act, and so while they might get excited about learning new skills, putting knowledge into practice is often their stumbling block. They appreciate privacy and strive for independence, regularly withdrawing into their minds or behind closed doors and may benefit from an ‘accountability buddy’ to encourage them to follow through.
When setting a resolution as a Five, allow yourself to be spontaneous and let yourself go. Dive straight into something, even if that means that you have not understood it completely or have not quite thought everything through yet. You can always make adjustments as you go along – the main thing is to get started!
Seen as highly responsible and trustworthy, Enneagram Sixes are motivated by the need to be safe and belong. They value security and belonging, and as a result, kindness, loyalty and trust are important to them. They strive to be responsible and appreciate being prepared and alert at all times. They tend to take into consideration all sides of an issue and as a result often struggle to come to a resolution. They are likely to consult a ‘committee’ – either their own internal perspectives or by asking other people for input. Sixes can be negative and form pessimistic resolutions and may benefit from resolutions that help them get in touch with their inner guidance and trust more. Sixes may find it easy to generate ideas but harder to commit to goals and to feel ready to launch and follow through, feeling especially tempted to back out if it threatens their sense of security.
When setting a resolution as a Six, clear and calm your thoughts and cultivate a quiet mind, rather than operating in a reactive mode. In this way, you will not feel completely flooded and overwhelmed by concerns of security, but instead will open up to creating a resolution that you can truly dedicate yourself to.
Enneagram Sevens love a fresh start and may be energised by the idea of starting something new. They are optimistic and love planning, often preferring to live in the future rather than in the present. Sevens want to experience life to the fullest and avoid pain, so their resolutions are likely to be positive and future-orientated, rather than requiring them to face up to some of the tough personal work they may have been avoiding. They thrive on having many experiences planned, so if one experience doesn’t feel satisfying, they can jump into another. But, as many of us know, quantity is not the same as quality.
While as a Seven, there is no doubt that you are likely to craft a list of resolutions with lightning speed, rather use this year to practice slowing down. Slow down, look back at the year that has passed and revel in the experiences you have had and the resolutions you achieved, celebrate and enjoy the sense of satisfaction from completion. Looking forward, focus on a single, powerful resolution rather than planning for busyness!
Enneagram Eights are motivated by their need to be strong and avoid vulnerability. Eights value control. Described as movers and shakers, Eights know just how to make things happen. Often, however, they unconsciously, tend to turn the tables in their favour, so they come out on top. Perhaps Eights need to realise that some aspects of achieving their resolution may not be in their control. It’s okay – go for it anyway!
As an Eight, therefore, your task is to remember others when making your resolutions and take into consideration how your actions might affect those around you. Instead of pushing others aside as you go for your vision, consciously choose to empower others. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone to choose areas where you will NOT lead, instead sharing your own vulnerability and uncertainty and creating space for others to support you.
With a need to be settled and in harmony with the world, Enneagram Nines value being understanding, accommodating and accepting. They strive for a peaceful existence and appreciate stability, so they may prefer to avoid making resolutions that might result in disruptive changes or conflict. It stands to reason then that Nines want to keep the balance and the way they typically do this is by retreating into a ‘happy place’ in their minds, avoiding change.
As a Nine, try something different this year when making resolutions. Be willing to feel uncomfortable while you let yourself really spend time thinking about what is not going well in your life. Choose one area that is impacting you and take decisive action rather than detaching from the problem. Challenge yourself to do just one thing, every day, that moves you towards a clearly defined goal; once you begin making change, stick to it even when the going gets tough!
Out with the old, in with the new
Some people find setting and following through on resolutions and personal changes easy, while others find it difficult. The Enneagram is a map that helps us understand ourselves, revealing how our behaviour relates to inner motivation, including how we set intentions (and in this case, resolutions) and follow through on them. Using the Enneagram, we can take a good, hard look at who we are, explore our unconscious motivations, and take conscious action to rid ourselves of the things that are keeping us stuck, and affirm the things that will move us forward to where we want to go.
Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M. D. (2002). Auld lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self‐reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405.