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January 1, 2014

How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution in 5 Steps.

Transform your resolution into an inspired way of life.

So it’s a new year and with every new year there are new resolutions. Unfortunately, many of our resolutions turn to disappointment when we are unable to overcome the inevitable struggles that transform a resolution into a new way of life. So how do we turn the corner? How do we take our obstacles as our path, and transform our shortcomings into a meaningful and fulfilling way of life?

The key to any successful resolution is intention.

Our intention must be deeply seeded. It cannot be superficial, fleeting, or trendy. Many of our New Year’s resolutions are cliche or reoccurring because they are connected to deeply seeded desires. We want to stop smoking, exercise more, eat more sensibly, because deep in our heart we anticipate a higher quality of life. Such intentions are inborn—they are not fashionable trends inspired by what others are doing, but the voice of our body seeking to realize its own potential. Such intention is essential because it is indestructible; they are written on the pages of our heart.

Once we have established our intention, we must reconnect with the earth. We must be grounded or practical. If we really wanted to exercise or eat more broccoli and less queso, we would already be doing it. Of course there will be mornings where we want to jump out of bed and put on our jogging suit, but that will not be the case every day. In fact, after the first couple days those days will be few and far-in-between.

The morning where we want to lay on the couch and eat donuts, instead of going on a cold winter run is coming, so we had best be expecting it. Therefore, when setting a resolution we should prepare ourselves for the inevitable lack of motivation—those days where we do not want to do the work required to transform our intention into a new way of life.

Discipline is an essential ingredient in growth. We must learn to do we do not want to do and and not do everything we want to do, if we are going to stick to our resolution.

Next, practicality demands that we be sensible. If stress in your day-to-day life demands that you start a daily meditation practice, then it is wise to start with a goal that you can realize.

Nothing sabotages more New Year’s resolutions than unrealistic expectations. You want to begin by establishing the habit. Once the habit is established you can begin to cultivate it. Start with five minutes of meditation everyday and over time expand the duration of your practice to ten, fifteen, twenty minutes.

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set realistic goals.

Finally, there must be checks and balances. If your New Year’s resolution is to go to the gym, find a gym partner; if your goal is to read one book a week, join a book club; if your resolution is to establish a daily meditation practice, join a meditation group. If you are trying to quit smoking or eating refined sugars—any resolution that is a solitary journey—invite a friend or spouse into your practice and ask them to provide you with a sense of accountability. They are not a “calorie cop,” charged with the task of policing your behavior, but someone you can call and check in with over the next thirty days. Just ask them up front, if you can call them once every day for the next month and share your highs and lows, your failures and successes. You can talk yourself in and out of anything, so check your thinking with a friend. Often times, we can see how petty our excuses and rationalizations are just by saying them out loud.

Nothing ensures success like accountability.

The last principal of practicality reminds us that perfection is the most unrealistic of all expectations. Just because you forget to go running one day or talk yourself out of meditating one morning or one evening you give into the temptation to eat that piece of cheesecake does not mean all is lost.

You can start again tomorrow.

There will be bumps in the road. There will be successes but there will also be disappointments. This is perseverance and without perseverance resolutions do not grow into new behaviors.

Many New Year’s resolutions are tossed to the wayside by February. We think, “Oh, it’d be nice to quit smoking or break in the new pair of running shoes.” We believe that simply having such thoughts is enough to change our behavior. So, we are unprepared and our lack of preparation shows. But if we take the time to connect with our deep-seated intentions and ground ourselves in a practical approach that is both sensible and diligent, we will find that we can be successful in realizing our New Year’s resolutions.

Remember:

  1. Connect with your intention
  2. Let go of what you want and invest in what you need
  3. Don’t sabotage yourself with unrealistic expectations
  4. Check your thinking with accountability
  5. You can start again tomorrow.

 

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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