The New Year…it’s that quintessential time to reflect on the past, look towards the future, and probe deep inside with a lens of self-inquiry, introspection and honesty. It’s the season to make resolutions for all the things we want to change, do better, let go of, or fix about ourselves so we can achieve a healthier state of mind, body and soul. There is only one problem with New Year’s resolutions…they usually never work!
According to website Statistic Brain, 45% of people make resolutions but only 8% of people are successful in keeping them. Why is it so hard to stick to resolves that would clearly be so beneficial? It’s because people can’t make a drastic change overnight. It’s common to wake up January 1 with the determination to make it to the gym at least 5 days a week, cut out your extra 2 cups of coffee, limit alcohol to only the weekend, call your mother more often, and of course curb your spending habits. People don’t normally stick to their surefire goals because it’s simply not natural to shift habits that quickly. It takes time, patience, practice and retraining of your brain to actually create new neural connections that lead to lasting change. This does not happen magically as the clock strikes midnight, while you are drinking champagne, kissing the person next to you as confetti falls from above.
However, New Year’s resolutions really should have a purpose and place in your life. It’s healthy to work on being your best self to allow growth, and to live optimally and authentically. But you don’t need a specific date on the calendar to start making those changes. When is a better now? All you need is awareness to notice what isn’t working for you and the intention to make it better. The magic shift doesn’t occur as the date changes, it occurs when you are ready to commit to yourself.
I really don’t like word “goal” because it implies that if I don’t meet them, then I haven’t succeeded and clearly I’ve failed. Instead of setting goals, I set intentions. Having an intention keeps me present and grounded in my moment-to-moment actions. And because I have a strong mindfulness practice, I constantly am inviting inquiry to my inner state, being aware of what is arising in my present moment experience and deciding with intention and skill how to proceed forward. Having intentions, rather than goals or resolutions, keeps me in the here and now rather than in the future. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I have control over this very moment, inextricably keeping me connected to my actions that support my intentions. I also have the faith to know that what is meant to be will be, and if I don’t reach a particular “goal” it’s because my process is about the journey not the destination and that my path will lead me to where I’m supposed to be.
So, when thinking about the New Year and all the things that you are resolving to change, I invite you to cultivate a mindfulness practice. This will provide you the tools to stay present, heighten your awareness of self, live with more attention and intention, and develop a greater connection to your mind, body and spirit. Don’t just fixate on finite resolutions that will determine you as a success or failure for having kept them or not. Rather allow yourself to be, to breathe and to intend on having the best year you are capable of having. And take it one moment, one breathe at a time. That truly is all you have power over, and as long as you’re breathing and being aware, you will stay very close to your intentions. And even if you miss the mark from time to time, don’t give up or judge yourself; choose forgiveness, self-compassion and remember you are human. Resolve to come back to your intention and make a new choice in the next moment. Even if it is hard, it is possible.
2015 is supposed to be a year of manifestation and clarity, so set your intentions, breathe and take it moment by moment. May it be a great year for you!