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December 26, 2013

Castles in the Sky & Other Resolutions: Making Changes.

“If you have built castles in the sky, let not your dreams go to waste; Just build the foundations under them.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Here we are at the end of another year and ready to embark on a new one.

Life is slowly returning to whatever normal was before the holiday decorations started going up. In a few days the trees will be packed away or laid out with the trash to be composted. Some of the presents will be returned or put away and the stockings will be boxed up for next year.

And all of the gratitude that many of us have felt and expressed will slowly start to be replaced with the everyday frustrations of life. It seems with the packing away of decorations comes a shift back into old habits.

Yet at this time of year, many of us will start making New year’s resolutions.

I resolve to eat healthy.

I resolve to meditate every morning and every night.

I resolve to work less hours.

I resolve to use the internet less.

I resolve to find a better job that is more fulfilling.

I resolve to exercise more.

So what does it take to truly put these resolutions into a life-long permanent practice? How do we go from I resolve to I am? I know in years past a lot of the resolutions I made didn’t stick. I would set them—sometimes on paper, sometimes in my mind—and then days, weeks, or months later they would be forgotten. It was too hard to change and so easy to do the same thing.

Except in quiet moments I would wish that I was different. I would imagine the type of person I wanted to be and see myself falling so short. While I agree that self-love and acceptance is necessary for happiness, the feeling of self-growth always trumps everything. (even if initially some emotional pain was involved) And when I would resolve to change and actually succeed it was so freeing to let go of habits I no longer wanted.

In these final days of December, I reflect back on the year. I find moments where I was proud of myself, and moments where I see my faults glaring back at me. I think about how I spent my time and what I could have done differently. Life moves too quickly to waste it away and not make the most of it.

What if, after setting our sights on lofty stars and castles in the sky, we could reach them? What if we could resolve to change for the better, and achieve it?  We can.

Start with one.

Just change one thing. By putting the pressure on ourselves to change a lot, it can be so much easier to let go of all of our goals and say forget it. Start with one goal because change can be hard—especially if it is a big change. Last year for the New Year I made the decision to become vegan. This was big for me because not only was I a meat -eater, but a junk food junkie too. I didn’t add any other goals other than this and thankfully, it has stuck which makes me so happy.

Don’t binge.

I have heard so many people say they will “go all out” before the New Year and then expect to wake up the next day and just be different overnight. If they are planning on losing weight they say, “As soon as the New Year is here I am going to diet and lose 50 pounds, so today I will eat whatever I want.” Or another one: “As soon as the New Year is here I am going to quit smoking so let me finish up my entire carton in the next few days.”

This binging mentality only makes it harder to adjust. Setting a date to start new habits is great, but overloading on the things we want to eliminate from our lives right before that change can not only be unhealthy but sets us up for failure.

Mistakes happen.

It’s okay. We forget, or we succumb to temptations. It may happen but that doesn’t mean automatic failure. So we stopped meditating for a week and we planned to do it every day. Picking up where we left off is better than just letting it go if that’s something we want to do. New habits can sometimes be tough to form so allow yourself the same compassion you would for anyone else. 

Let go of perfection. That is part of the growing process because sometimes what we think we should do or how we should be is not the way things turn out. If you allow yourself the ability to stumble and sometimes fall, the act of getting back up is not as hard.

Be open.

Be open to new possibilities. It’s one thing to say I will and another to follow through. If we are open to the process of changing and all that comes with it we are more likely to succeed.

For example, sometimes what we aim for is not what we get. Maybe your goal is to practice yoga every day and you end up with an injury and can’t practice for a month. Guess what? There are 8 limbs of yoga! By being open and exploring the other aspects of yoga, you may find you can appreciate asana even more. The ability to keep an open mind can be tough in times of challenge, but it can help you stay on track and is a great practice by itself.

As the year fades away into the past, I will get up like every other morning and face the day. I will eat breakfast, I will go to work, I will kiss my children good night. I will watch as the world unfolds new stories, new dramas and new experiences. I will set a goal again this year and I will resolve to grow. I will set my castles in the sky and I will reach for them.

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.”

~ John Lennon

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo Credit: Eric Bryden/Pixoto

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