Start the new year right
MAMATA VENKAT shares some practical tips on how to create habits out of New Year’s resolutions, and generally how to bring about effective change in your lifestyle.
The start of the New Year often feels like a period of rebirth. It is a reset of the clock, a fresh start that allows us to take inventory on the status of the past year, to celebrate its wins, and to honor areas of growth and improvement that can be carried into the following year. December seems to be the prime month for everyone and everything, from family members to friends to commercials to self-care articles, to ask us the ever-pressing and slightly stressful bold-lettered question: “What is your New Year’s Resolution?”
I am what I call a “recovering resolution-making over-enthusiast.” In the past, every time the last week of December came around, I would evaluate my year and write up a very lengthy, very unrealistic resolution list. I was determined to stick with it. Come January, I would successfully go gung-ho on my list for a few weeks, only to find myself quickly burning out on my goals. March, April, May would fly by, and that long resolution list I made back in December would find itself in a corner of my life collecting dust. Discouraged, I would forget about my goals completely, resolving that next year would be the year that I tackled all of my resolutions. It took a few instances for me to realize that there were two issues with the way I was handling things:
I was doing too much, and expecting too much, all in too little time.
I was looking at my resolutions as insurmountable mountains that I needed to climb, instead of simply as habit building.
That’s all resolutions are really: habit building. I needed to build my habits in the same steady way I built my meditation practice, gradually, with ease, and intentionally. Once I reframed resolutions as habits, it became easier to take them off the pedestal and implement them into my routine.
1. Define what your goal is and why it is significant.
What is the purpose of your resolution? Why is it significant in bettering your life? Write it out. It helps to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve
2. What steps can you take to get there?
Instead of jumping right in, write out actionable steps that you can take to achieve your goal. When I started to incorporate meditation into my routine, I first started with five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. As I grew comfortable with those five minutes, I kept adding on an additional five minutes until I could sit for 30 to 40 minutes. Taking those steps helped to build the habit and improve upon it.
3. What does success look like for this resolution at one month, three months, six months, nine months, and a year?
What progress would you like to see in yourself with this habit throughout the course of the year? Mile marking goals helps to set easy points of achievement throughout the year.
4. Track your progress.
Tracking your progress allows you to be accountable for your progress. A few years ago, I took up bullet journaling, a record-keeping method that allows you to design how you want to track your goals and to-do lists. I used this method as a way to record how I was doing with each aspect of the Heartfulness practice. When I saw how it helped me to keep up with my meditation practice, I started to use bullet journaling as a way to manage all of my habits.
5. Be flexible and allow your goals to change as you and your year changes.
Part of habit building is allowing your goals to change and adapt with you as you grow throughout the year. We often have a fixed vision of what our end results should be and get frustrated when those expectations don’t meet reality. I am learning how to allow for flexibility with those goals, as they evolve in the same way I do.
6. Willpower, willpower, willpower.
No goal can be achieved unless you take interest in yourself and apply willpower toward its success. Commit to your goal, and don’t stop until you achieve it.
Article by MAMATA VENKAT
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