New Years are almost immediately associated with New Year resolutions. Rarely do you think of the first without finding the latter clinging to it with your next thought. We all know out of experience how difficult keeping a New Year resolution can be. I’m sure you have failed at keeping some of yours, maybe even to the extent of deciding not to make them anymore.
So, where’s the problem? Why are New Year resolutions so difficult to stick to, even though they are simple in their essence?
To beat that vicious cycle, try changing your mindset about what a New Year resolution actually is. Instead of defining the term as something you want to do or achieve, turn it into an intention. Or, instead of putting a tangible goal like losing weight or quitting smoking or reading more, set different goals. Consider increasing your awareness, or slowing down the pace of your life, or being more attentive to your intentions. You will be amazed at how much better that approach works, and at how it can lead you to achieving your primary goals easier!
Here are a few main guidelines on how that can be done.
We tend to treat New Year resolutions as chores we need to do, or a to-do list that needs to be marked off. How about changing that perspective and making our approach to the New Year more mindful?
Being mindful means being present and being aware in the moment; not dwelling on the past nor thinking about the future, but being in the present and experiencing it fully. Ask yourself questions like ‘how do I feel now?’ and ‘is this really what I need right now?’ and ‘how accepting am I of myself now?’
Increase your awareness
In other words, focus! Do everything consciously. Don’t eat absentmindedly, but rather focus on the morsels of food you’re chewing. Become a conscious smoker, for example; that is to resist the temptation to light a cigarette when you’re on the phone or driving. When you smoke, be conscious of each drag and how it feels. This way you’ll get more gratification from one cigarette than you do with three or four that are smoked as a ‘side action’.
It’s amazing what focusing on your breath will do to your everyday life! Breathing more consciously instantly calms you down. It also helps you with the above goals. It helps you focus more easily and helps you become more mindful of your thoughts and actions. Count your inhales in intervals of four and try to make your exhales longer. You will immediately be able to concentrate more sharply and make decisions with higher levels of awareness, even if that decision is as simple as what to have for lunch.
Expect to wander
It’s OK. It’s normal. It’s the very essence of human nature to wander and stray from a path or a goal. Don’t judge yourself, or label yourself a failure or procrastinator. Instead, think of why you’re wandering. Analyze your state of mind and increase your awareness with yourself at that moment. Even straying can be done consciously and with a deliberate decision.
Change is the only constant. That is a fact! With that in mind, know that it’s perfectly OK to alter your goal halfway. Be flexible enough to change your mind, but balance it so it’s not too abstract a change that you completely shift your goal altogether. Remain on your path, but alter your pace. Keep the goal, but change the way you’re going to achieve it. Always remember that there are a million different routes to the same destination.
It’s vital to keep an open heart towards yourself at all times. Don’t judge or batter yourself over things unsaid or undone, or otherwise. Believe in the essence of your very nature; we are humans and humans are perfect through their imperfections.
If you want to make a change this year, know that you can do it, and that the only thing that is getting in your way is your own negativity. Be kinder and more compassionate with yourself when you wander, then gently guide yourself back to your objectives and, most importantly, focus!
It’s all in my head is a series of thoughts and opinions that our very own Yusra Badr has written. “It’s All in my Head” is out now!