We've ushered in a New Year, and with it comes an opportunity to make a fresh start. You have probably made your list of resolutions for the coming year with renewed optimism, but creating positive changes can be challenging.
Even if you are determined to follow through this year, it is easy to get off track; making a change is a gradual process that takes time. You need support and a deep commitment to keep at it when the going gets rough. Perhaps you have made the same declaration in previous years and failed. If so, it is easy to slip into feeling dis-empowered and resigned. Or maybe you want to accomplish too many things at once, or have set your expectations too high, thereby setting yourself up for failure.
Once the holiday parties are over and life slips back into its ordinary routine, the tendency is to go back into old automatic patterns and forget you ever wanted to make any changes—that is, unless you make a conscious effort to keep your resolutions alive and present in your daily life. Here are three tips that can help you avoid the pitfalls and achieve your goals.
- Expressing gratitude for everything in your life opens the door to greater abundance. Metaphysical law states that "thought goes where energy flows." So, focusing on the fullness of your cup is more productive than dwelling on the emptiness. You have much to be thankful for, not only for your blessings but also for your challenges, because they bring opportunities to grow and move beyond your comfort zone. Shifting your state of mind by being happy with your life exactly the way it is, and exactly the way it isn't, sets the stage for new opportunities to enter. Make it a practice to express gratitude for three things in your life each day; writing them in a journal is most effective.
- Making a plan can guide your actions. Many people claim that they prefer to be spontaneous rather than following a schedule. But, just as driving with a GPS keeps you focused on your destination and saves time by keeping you on your route, a plan can keep you on track with what is most important to you.
I've heard many women claim they want to meet someone special yet they make no attempt to socialize or join a dating service. They expect that Prince Charming will just magically show up on their doorstep. This type of wishful thinking does not produce results. You have probably heard the cliché, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome."
Magic happens when we are actively engaged in fulfilling our goals. The following principles can help you formulate a plan and stick to it:
- First of all, know what you want, but keep it simple. Set your priority and be specific. For instance, you want to lose five pounds and be in tip-top shape. If this is your goal, that usually means exercising and changing your diet. Get clear if you will be jogging, walking, practicing yoga, lifting weights, or something else. Also see what kind of change in your diet will work for you. Perhaps it means adding more vegetables to your meals and cutting out desserts, or drinking herbal teas instead of soda, or simply cutting back on calories.
- Ground your goal in time. How long will it take you to lose the weight and be in better shape? Commit to a reasonable time frame. Maybe it will take you two and a half months to lose five pounds, one pound every two weeks. How often will you need to exercise? One hour a day? Five times a week? Once you have determined what will realistically fit into your schedule, place it on your calendar. Set that time in stone, as if it were an important work commitment. Schedule nothing else during that time, for you are busy and not available for anything else.
- Get help. Are you disciplined enough to keep your resolution or do you need a structure of support? Joining a fitness club or signing up for classes at a yoga studio can help you make a commitment, because when you have money on the line, you have something at stake. Or you may need to hire a lifestyle coach or enroll a friend to keep you accountable.
- Measure your progress. If you want to lose weight, you may have to buy a scale to actually know how many pounds are melting away. If your goal is to make more money, you need to be able to balance your checkbook and keep track of your budget. If you want to write a novel, you may need to write a certain amount of pages per week.
- Keep it alive. You will be tested. If your goal is important to you, you will have to make an effort to continue with it even when you are tired or don't feel like it. Many famous authors were rejected numerous times before they found the right publisher. It is important to be unstoppable and not give up. One of my teachers would always say, "You either have the results you want to have in your life, or the excuses why you don't." If you give up, you'll never get where you want to go.
- Be kind to yourself. Circumstances often interfere with our best intentions. If you want to eat less, it is inevitable you will be invited to sumptuous dinners. You are bound to have setbacks. And when they occur, it is important not to beat yourself up by feeling guilty. Simply acknowledge the breakdown—you slept instead of going to yoga class. Or you binged on potato chips. It is okay. Just resolve to attend the next class or skip buying junk food.
- Walking your talk. It is important that your actions are in alignment with your goals. I had one client who declared he wanted a partner, but he spent so much of his free time outside of work caring for his elderly mother that he had no time to invest in dating or getting to know someone. He was angry and exhausted, yet he refused to alter his schedule. If your commitment is to find a mate, are you spending too much time at work or wrapped up with other obligations that you are making yourself unavailable?
If finding love is your New Year's resolution, you may need to check to see if you love yourself: all relationships extend from the relationship you have with you. Look in the mirror. Does your appearance reflect the best you can be? If not, you may need to upgrade your self-image with a new hairstyle or new wardrobe so you look and feel your best. Do you love your life because you spend time doing activities you enjoy, or are you waiting for someone to rescue you from your misery because you aren't being responsible for your fulfillment? Becoming your ideal person will help you attract your perfect mate.
But remember, the process is just as important as the end result. The magic lies in the journey of discovery and transformation on the path.
In my book, Karmic Choices: How Making the Right Decisions Can Create Enduring Joy, I offer a variety of exercises, meditations, and a three-step karmic formula to heal old issues, set new goals, and create a life you love.