The New Year is here. You may feel excited as to what may lay ahead or feel disappointed that it’s really just another day. I think most of us want to believe in the opportunity of renewal: a new diet, a new job, a new addiction to quit. Are we setting ourselves up for failure or do resolutions really work?
Personally, I rarely make a list of goals I want to attain in the New Year. I already know what I want to achieve. I also know that change comes about incrementally. I’ve learned to take small steps and create habits over time. I believe trying to overhaul my entire life in the first month of the year is too overwhelming. I’d rather setup easy to do plans that will result in success. Each new accomplishment encourages me to continue my progress.
I’ve learned to change my mindset on the idea of reward and punishment. For example, I wanted to lose weight and have a healthier diet. The word diet alone makes me feel that I will never, ever, be happy again. I had to flip the script and approach my new lifestyle with a more positive spin. I started to keep track of what I was eating throughout the day. Watching the calories add up made me realize that I needed to be more mindful of what I was eating. Little by little I created delicious, satisfying meals that made me feel great. This new habit took time but it taught me that change can happen and it doesn’t have to be painful. I still have cookies once in a while and that makes life worthwhile.
This approach of creating small goals takes out the all or nothing attitude. It’s common to start a new regimen and after a few weeks it falls by the wayside. Life gets in the way. We get too busy. We just don’t want to ride the Peloton anymore. If we decide in the beginning that no matter what, we will stick to our goal even if it means just doing it for five minutes a day. It’s an interesting trick when you put it in those terms. Once you start and see how fast five minutes really is, you may want to go longer. If not, you at least kept your promise to yourself.
The biggest challenge I’ve taken for myself is to recognize the present moment. It’s easy to slip into the past or try to project the future. I’m either thinking about what I should’ve done or what I need to get done. This gets me nowhere. Practicing mindfulness does keep me centered. I found that putting together a plan of action the night before helps. I do my best to focus on one task at a time. When I find myself distracted I stop and take a couple of deep breaths. I take a walk or I check to see what’s in the fridge. My hope is that the carrots have turned into cake. Either way, a short break helps me to get back on track.
I believe New Year's Resolutions can work. Do yourself a favor and set easy to reach goals. Small accomplishments lead to life changing habits. Check in with yourself and recognize how you are feeling in the moment. Take five minutes and make yourself a priority. Write down your goals and put in place a plan of action. Take time to breathe and center yourself. Make plans to get together with your friends and family. Indulge once in a while. Love your life.
I hope the New Year signals positive change and growth for you. I hope that throughout the year your resolve to attain new goals is strong. I hope that when you look into your fridge your carrots have magically turned into carrot cake. Happy New Year!!