Lifestyle changes require some practice and patience. So it is easy to see why New Year’s resolutions can put a lot of pressure on us. During this time of the year, most of the goals we set for ourselves are unrealistic, based on what other people think we should be doing, or based on a comparison we read about online or have seen on the television.
What often happens is that we don’t achieve the goals we set out for ourselves, we are then consumed with guilt, and tell ourselves we have somehow failed. When we set New Year’s Resolutions they are usually hard and definitive. We have firm expectations of what the outcome will be. We are only human, and failure is a part of learning and growing. If you think about it, you are trying to resolve something that you have never been able to accomplish before, and now you expect to do it within a specific time frame.
How we define a New Year’s resolution is quite important. Simply put, it is the need or desire to change undesireable behaviour or the want to accomplish certain goals we have set out for ourselves. We usually set out on this quest for our amazing transformation when the new year comes in. You know the saying, “New year, new you”. Sounds easy right? Well, it is not always so.
People love to wait until an appropriate time to do something. We hope that a certain time, event or experience will suddenly jolt our mind and body into changing. I am sure you have said this to yourself before, “On Monday I will start eating well”, “when I get over this slump I will start exercising” or “once I am organised I will paint the house”. We hope and pray that one day, we will feel good enough or energized enough to change.
Even though we may have many ideas when it comes to our new year’s resolutions, we find it difficult to accomplish them. Do you know why? Because you will always find another excuse to push your goals further away. We are either too scared, too lazy or too comfortable with the status quo to finally push ourselves and change. I am here to tell you though, that you can change and here is how.
Why are new year’s resolutions important? Well, we make resolutions because ultimately we want to be better. We want to improve our lives and stop the hoard of negative behaviors we have become so accustomed to. We look at people and society around us and we want what they have.
Honestly, I think its great that we constantly want to move forward, change and develop as individuals. Your goals are magical, keep them. Your want and need to change is what is going to keep you focused, and the motivation behind this is what is going to make sure you achieve all you have set out to do.
So why am I bringing mindfulness into the equation. Well in my opinion achieving your goals depends on a few things. First your goal needs to be achievable, second it must be realistic and lastly, your motivation has to be powerful enough to get you to start. Mindfulness will teach you how to harness that motivation, and help you to achieve your new year’s resolutions.
Mindfulness is a way of being in the present moment. Its about connecting deeply to yourself, becoming aware of your desires, emotions and thoughts in this moment, right now. When we attach mindfulness to our goals, we allow ourselves to put our expectations aside. We quiet the mind in such a way that we discover what we truly want, not what we think we should have. Mindfulness allows you to place your full attention on your motivation to change. It gives you the space to visualise and affirm what it is you want to achieve.
Stop waiting for a time to start and just start. There will never be a perfect moment to do something. Issues will always pop up and life happens as we live it. If you want to set a goal, get up right now and try these simple steps. Besides how many people do you know that have stuck to their New Year goals? Not many, so you may as well get going.
Ask yourself what should my new year’s resolution be? Once you have a goal in mind, make sure you are S.M.A.R.T about it.
How do you make a good new years resolution?
Learning to recognize and understand your emotions and how they influence your behavior is a good first step. Most resolutions focus on changing unhealthy habits, but habits take time to break. Think about it, they are repetitive reactions to situations that we have developed over a long period of time, almost like a reflex, with no choice involved.
Mindful Self-awareness encourages us to recognize these behaviours just as they are, teaching you to pause and notice impulses, giving you time to time to get your behaviour under control and get your choices back. So if your goal is to save more money, mindfully reflect on your spending habits. How do you spend too much and why?
With an intention, there is no required result—we are simply connecting to our chosen course. “I’m just going to practice, and see what happens.”
Intention focuses on the present, so when we try and change our behavior we do so right now. There is no expectation, we cannot fail and we will have no disappointment. When we act with intention we become curious, we ask the question why? Why do you want to lose weight this year, why do you want to become more productive and save more money?
We shift our focus from outward expectations to ourselves and gain some introspection, in this moment, right now. By placing personal meanings behind your goals, they become more important to you and are much easier to achieve.
Perfectionism is exhausting, and quite honestly pointless, there really isn’t anything that is perfect. Besides we are human, we make mistakes and that is O.K. Mindfulness teaches us that your are not defined by your thoughts and behavior, which allows us to create a mindset of learning not failure.
There will be challenges, and changes will be tough, but by focusing on progress, no matter how small, will allow you to look at these accomplishments with pride. Ultimately motivating you to continue. So instead of making a concrete goal like you need to lose 10 pounds by February, and then you don’t, and see yourself as a failure. Try implementing small steps, such as I will try go for a walk today, or eat a healthy meal.
The most important resolution you should have is to truly take care of yourself. Think about your internal dialogue, how do you talk to yourself or about yourself? Try be more compassionate and kind, and free yourself from self-judgement. Start enjoying the things you have neglected, and treat yourself for the right reasons. Set aside some quiet time, take a walk, read a book or get into the garden.
Remember what Audre Lorde says — self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.
Often the most popular new year’s resolutions are geared towards losing weight, self improvement or improving relationships. I think we should try something new!
Travel to enrich your life, go to places that challenge your beliefs and ideas about the world. Get off the beaten path. There’s no need to buy a plane ticket either you could explore your own towns, cities and country.
What can you gain from Travelling?
Get outside and appreciate a bit of nature. Grab a tent and go camping with a few friends. You could simply take a good book and sit outside your house under the stars. We often take nature for granted but it has so much to offer us.
What are the benefits of being outside?
Often new year’s resolutions are focused around weight loss and omitting certain foods. Why not try adding new and unusual healthy foods to your diet. Next time you are in the supermarket head toward the fruit and vegetable section and choose something you have never eaten before. Become adventurous in your pursuit of new culinary experiences.
Have you tried foods like artichokes, litchis, papaya, dragon fruit, kiwi, baby marrow flowers or eggplant. These are all foods that if prepared correctly are delicious. Go and try something new!
Being an adult is exhausting and stressful, let’s face it. This year I dare you to bring out your inner child. When was the last time you went for a bike ride, swam in the ocean or did a hand stand?
Next time you are around some kids get your face painted, climb a tree or play dress up. Do all the things you would of loved to do as a kid.
Take a break from technology. I know its’s nearly impossible to cut out technology all together but you can monitor the time you spend on screen. Make a conscious effort to use social media responsibly. Don’t allow yourself to mindlessly scroll on your facebook, reddit or twitter feed.
When you spend too much time on social media you may fall victim to the comparison trap whereby you will compare your life to others. Constant comparing will lead to feelings of inadequacy.
Smiling is free and it’s easy to do. So often when Im walking in public I notice how stern faced many people are. I try to consciously make eye contact with someone and smile. The result of me doing this is that people usually smile back. Its just a fun way of making a connection with a stranger. You will probably never see that person again but you got to share a smile with them.
The benefits of smiling:
Challenge yourself to think outside of the box, and do something you would never have done before. You could decide to hold an event and raise money for a worthy cause or make a plan to hike through some of the world’s national parks. Why not take on the top 25 best books to read before you die or learn how to play a musical instrument.
Giving back to your community can have a lasting impact on you and the people or cause you choose to help. below I’ve outlined 3 ways you could give back to your community.
Volunteer: Go help out at your local soup kitchen or help repair something in your community. Personally I enjoy volunteering at our local animal shelter.
Make your skills available: Whatever your profession I’m sure you have a skill that someone could use. Perhaps you are a graphic designer, you could offer to help a charity with their design needs. An accountant could help with a charity’s books.
Donate: If you have the means you could simply donate to a cause you believe in.
Benefits of giving back:
Taking a course in survival skills can be a fun and unique activity that you and the whole family can enjoy. An added bonus is that it will help you to plan for the unexpected on an off road or hiking trip.
Wilderness courses give you the opportunity to enjoy areas of your city that are usually off limits. These courses give you a new understanding and respect for the environment and it’s wildlife.
It helps to build your confidence in your own self sufficiency and gives you the chance to challenge yourself.
Music festivals, live theater and art are culturally enriching and creatively inspiring experiences. Recent research has emerged that proves festivals of any kind and live shows can improve your psychological well being.
Music and events promote connection and engagement in young people and encourage feelings of inclusivity, reduced stress levels and improved physical health.
Texting is not talking. Texting is a fantastic way of communicating at a base level. What I mean by this is that its a short hand way of asking for things “Can you pick up some bread on the way home” or “What time must I be there” . Texting works great for those kind of queries, the problem is that we are using text as a way of talking and communicating our feelings to one another.
So much can be misinterpreted through text because you aren’t sitting face to face with someone. The verbal cues and facial expressions aren’t presented through text. How many times have you felt insulted by something someone said over text but later learned that’s not what they meant at all.
Save your important conversations for when you can look someone in the eye and talk. Texting is a quick fix and it can damage relationships very easily.
Shared hobbies are a great way to spend more time with the people you value. We are all busy people and it’s hard to make time to spend with all the people you love. However, if you can find some shared hobbies you dont have to split your time between your children, spouse and friends. Get everyone together and join a cooking class or play some board games.
Another benefit of sharing hobbies is that you will always have something interesting to talk about and have something to look forward to together.
I fall into the trap of only reading the headlines of articles and then scroll through to the bits that interest me. As a society we already read less than we did in the past. We are faced with fake news and exaggerated click bait articles that can mislead and misinform us.
Information is power so take the time to read full articles do your own research and be better informed.
Toastmasters is an international non profit organization that was designed to teach people public speaking, leadership and communication skills. In a safe and supportive environment toastmasters will improve your self confidence and presentation skills by giving you opportunities to practice speaking.
By regularly engaging in public speaking scenarios you combat fear, reduce anxiety and enhance your leadership abilities. There are toastmaster clubs all over the world, so joining gives you the space to network and connect with like minded people and share valuable resources.
In general we are a society of complainers. We complain about the weather, the traffic, our ungrateful kids, the crying baby on the plane, the late train, our in-laws and siblings, our parents, the rain, the heat, the price of milk and bread, the noisy construction site, our jobs, our salary and so on and so forth. We complain about a lot of things this much is true. We all understand that life is not perfect, it never was and it never will be.
Understanding and accepting that things will not always go our way is the first step to complaining less. Make a point to become conscious of what you say, if you know yourself you will know what you like to complain about. When you find yourself about to complain rather stop yourself and think of something to be grateful for.
If after reading this article you still need a kick in the butt, here are 12 new year’s quotes to motivate and inspire you to change.