Have you ever created New Year’s resolutions that didn’t pan out? Have you noticed a pattern of, each year come December, wanting to lose 10 pounds, find a new career, or (insert your new year’s resolution here) for the last several years now? And has this inspiring and thoughtful plan come to a crashing burn each March?
We are patterned beings.
We have “cyclical traps” of behavior, which are extremely arduous to get out of. As a coach who works with individuals and teams to set and reach goals, I’ve noticed that there is much discussion around building new habits, but not much discussion around how our personalities can hold us back. We have come to have our current set of habits through deeply ingrained desires and fears. And if I’ve learned anything from working with my clients, it’s that these unprocessed habits, desires, and fears are what keep people from achieving their goals.
For example: What if you don’t actually want to step into a new career because your false self is afraid of not being seen as conventionally successful? Or, what if you don’t want to lose the weight because your false self is convinced that you don’t deserve to be physically healthy, because you came from a family that wasn’t? These are all ways our ego or false self gets in the way of us stepping into truly powerful transformation, and these ego fixations can take a lifetime to unwind.
However, there’s a tool I use (and I know many of you out there do as well) which gets to the marrow of these unhealthy cycles. You guessed it: It’s called the Enneagram. The Enneagram discusses nine ways we have learned to cope with our fears (those cycle patterns that keep us stuck!), and paints a path of how to find freedom (finding methods to stop the cycles)!
With the theme of self-reflection over action, I’ve developed a question and reflective prompt designed for each type to get to the core of what has the potential to be most transformative for you in 2020. Use these concepts as a framework to develop your own action steps as you step into the new year.
Unsure of your dominant type? Read these type descriptions and determine which motivations are most like yours.
- Examine the parts of yourself, the world, and people around you that you are trying to fix. What would it look like to release your idea of “being right?”
- What parts of you need to be unwound? Where in your body do you feel the emotions you carry? Consider spoiling yourself. What would that look like?
- Examine your belief that you are “unlovable”. What is it like to release this part of yourself? There is an abundance of love in the world and it wants to envelop you. Practice trusting that there is enough.
- What if this love was inside you? What comes up when you look inward? Spend some time alone this season and learn to be with yourself.
- What is your current definition of success? If you keep on this life trajectory, what will your life be like when you are 80?
- Examine your heart and where you find self worth. What if you released people’s perceptions of you, and found grounding in the truth of who you really are? What might “who you really are” look like?
- Examine your longing. What feels missing in your life? What if you already have everything you need for a full, vibrant life — just as your life is?
- What would being ordinary be like for you: everyone on the same playing field, being neither inferior or superior to those around you?
- Examine what makes you feel competent and independent. What would it look like to be helpless around those you love? Practice giving people in your life more ways they can be with you.
- What don’t you know? What would it be like if you shared these “unknowledgeable” pieces of yourself with others and were still valued?
- Examine your habits of self-doubting. Your gut is intuitive and won’t lead you astray. What would it look like to trust yourself? Stand up and put your hands on your stomach, connect your stomach’s energy from the navel all the way to the ground. Practice being grounded.
- If you had a magic wand and anything could happen, what would that be like? How does your answer connect to feeling secure?
- Examine the ways you mentally slip into the future on the daily. What are ways you can be present in these moments? Is there something you are escaping? Trust there is light in the present moments.
- If you could only have one of a really good thing, what would it be? In embracing moderation, what is the one thing you can do to help your feelings of discontentment?
- Examine how you withdraw when you are feeling disconnected from folks. What would it be like to take the first step toward reconnection, even if rejected?
- What pieces of you need to be held gently? How could you invite one person into that? What about two?
- Examine in your heart who you are. What pieces of your identity are being lost in other people? It is time to reclaim them. Slowly and surely. Take small movements towards doing things you like.
- Where in your life do you need to wake up? What is holding you back from the adventure that awaits?
Maybe one of these prompts in particular stands out to you and makes you feel uneasy (hint: that’s probably your type!). Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the repressed, dark side of the personality, and the Enneagram framework teaches us how to move from these personality fixations to our truer self.
Entering the new year, the most important thing any type can do is self reflect.
This is not easy, and without this piece, the Enneagram won’t help you in achieving your goals. To truly move forward, we need to go back, remembering how we acted in situations of conflict, panic, romance, risk, and to ask ourselves, “Why did I respond that way?” Often times this is painful, but it brings greater freedom and enjoyment of life.
If you’re finding yourself stuck in the new year, ask “why” and maybe this tool will act as a map for you along the way. There is much hope in the air entering 2020. Seize it!