As we begin the new year, there is that thinking over our New Year’s Resolutions. You know the ones Lose weight! Get Fit! Save more money! And then, come February we’ve forgotten all about them If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Research indicates that only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions! Many resolutions last, a week or so! Maybe we should give up on resolutions?
I think the problem with resolutions is that they focused on outcomes and notions of success and failure. And not the journey. However, the answer is not, to abandon the practice of self-improvement but to identify areas for where we truly want to change and growth, and then gently set an intention to make this happen. Bringing Mindfulness into your new year’s intentions/resolutions can support you in taking the steps you need for transformation.
1. Know Your Why?
Why are losing weight or getting fit or whatever is important to you and why this year? The WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us to want to make changes that improve our lives in some way. When there is personal meaning behind an action, it helps us stay the course. We can define the goal or intention with clarity and ensure that it is aligned with our true values. Plus knowing why makes us passionate to meet our goal and less likely to be blown off course. We can instead live in the flow of the intentions as German poet Goethe stated: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.”
- Focus on the Journey, not the End Game
Intensely focusing on results paradoxically makes us less likely to achieve them. Instead, try focusing on the process of achieving your goal we perform better. Intensely focusing on results paradoxically makes us less likely to achieve them.
If your goal is losing weight, don’t focus on how much weight you want to lose instead try focusing on going for walks or eating healthy meals.
The focus of our resolution is the moments in which transformation will occur rather than the single instance of its attainment. Seeing your resolutions in this way – as a journey, makes it more likely you’ll succeed and that you will hopefully enjoy the process.
- Self-Compassionate Awareness
Turn your attention to the habits that you would like to change, and bring awareness to these habits. For example, If you want to spend less money, for example, take some time observing how and when and why you spend money. What triggers your spending? Is it online ads on particular social media platforms that you browse while watching TV at the same time? The key to changing our behavior is understanding the cues that trigger a particular action, and the rewards we gain.
It also helps if you can be to break your habit into its components. In reality, making small tweaks along the way. There are some real advantages in small steps. The cost of failure is comparatively low, so we feel less pressure and more confidence. So the focus on modest, achievable goals provides us with tangible steps on the road to meeting the bigger goal, towards the transformation.
No matter how important the intention to change is to us, we are only human. So it’s important to know that there will be times when we slip back into our old behavior after all our habits sit in a well-worn groove that feels safe and comfortable. Where we don’t have to think
A key lesson in mindfulness is that we are constantly beginning again. The same goes for resolutions. When we fall short, we can gently and non-judgmentally bring recognizing when we’ve wandered and beginning again. And again…
There are a few ways to support out New Year intentions which I have found very helpful.
Word of the Year.
I started this process last year to encapsulate the way I wanted the year to feel and support my behavior. For me, it has helped me to make choices and take actions that remained aligned with the overall theme of my year. I use a combination of journaling and meditation to find my word, to feel it. I find it helps to choose a word and sit with it a while before making it final,
This year I have chosen the word CLARIT. Clarity means owning my space. It’s stepping up and being clear on what I stand for. It means communicating my dreams openly and sticking with them when it gets messy.
There are some great books and online instructions for making a vision board. I love the approach laid out by coach Christine Kane. If you’re not familiar with vision boards, they are mostly a compilation of images that represent what you want for yourself in the upcoming year. I find it helpful to some real time out to create my board and to support the process with breath based meditations.
It’s a great way to have a visual reminder of your intentions. I hang mine in my office to remind daily The images of clear skies, flowing rivers, meditation bells and twirling dancers remind daily to keep things single, to use nature as a guide, to meditate daily and love my body.
Setting intentions or resolutions at this time of year are a reminder of the importance of self-improvement. That the transformations we seek to make are about bringing greater wellbeing, joy, and ease into our lives. When we can travel on this journey with mindfulness as our guide, we can bring awareness to our behaviors, to our unsupportive habits and how we can make a slow, gentle change will get us to where we want to be. And to hold ourselves accountable gently but firmly through compassion awareness so that we find the wisdom, the courage, and the responsibility as we seek meaningful transformation.
Wishing you well on your 2019 journey!