If you’re like me, around this time of year you may be coming up with numerous New Year’s resolution ideas. That’s great! Use the energy of the new year to get inspired about how you want to change.
But the truth is that many people get stuck with lots of ideas but not enough follow-through. Maybe you’ve made New Year’s resolutions before but got discouraged when you realized they didn’t come true. Please, don’t give up on making resolutions, even if they haven’t worked in the past. You just have to improve your follow-through.
I’m going to share 3 simple tips that I believe can help you turn your New Year’s resolution ideas into reality...
1- Make things concrete... Some resolutions lend themselves to concrete actions better than others, and concrete actions are good because you can check whether you did them. Going to the gym, for example, is a pretty easy resolution to check. You said you would go to the gym 3 times per week? Great! How many times did you go this week?
If you’re like me, a lot of resolutions are harder to translate into concrete actions. “Next year, I’m going to focus on myself more. I’m going to make sure to take time for relaxation. I’m going to express my appreciation to friends and family more.” These are awesome ideas, and you may have very clear visions of achieving them, but if you can’t connect them to specific, measurable, and concrete actions, it will be more difficult. Figure out how to translate those resolutions into action. In order to “focus on yourself,” how about committing to a set time and style of meditation or journaling? How many times a week will sit down and do it? To relax, will you practice those yoga and breathing techniques you learned, or go for a walk? And when will you make time for friends, and where? By asking these questions you can begin to turn your good ideas into real results.
There’s one more thing to keep in mind, and it’s often been an obstacle when I try to make concrete plans- don’t get overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s easier to think “I’ll eat better” without getting into specifics because the specifics are where it gets hard! So here’s the second part of making things concrete- trust the power of small actions. Maybe changing your diet seems like a huge undertaking. Rather than getting overwhelmed, trust that one small change will get you moving in the right direction, and focus on succeeding with that one action. Let the rest come later.
2- Surround yourself with people and influences that keep you going... Tip 2! Recognize that making changes is difficult, and you need every bit of support you can get. One of the best ways to do this is to commit to putting yourself in supportive situations- that means with people and places.
“I like working on things by myself.” There are times we all would rather avoid showing our imperfections and struggles to the world. But if you’ve tried changing by yourself and couldn’t make it happen, it’s time to gather your courage and open up a little with others. Want to quit smoking? Find a person or group who know what it’s like to successfully quit, and spend some time with them. Need to get into an exercise routine? Find a gym partner, or just commit to showing up at the gym. Put yourself in the position to take action, even if you don’t feel like it emotionally.
3- Commit to the time it takes to achieve your goals... Here’s my biggest recommendation for this year: promise yourself you’ll be patient, and commit to taking action for a while. Real changes take time. Of course, you can take action immediately, but to really change your life it will take time, usually at least 3 months, and often longer. Are you ready for that?
Perhaps the idea of long-term change is overwhelming. In teaching Body & Brain Yoga, I’ve seen many people hesitate even though they really want to change. They say, “I’ve started things in the past but it was hard to keep going. How do I know if this will work for me?” Let me tell you, it’s not necessary to find the ‘perfect’ method. Often, a ‘perfect’ method doesn’t even exist. These days it doesn’t take long to research what you could do to change. I’d say you should spend no more than 10% of your time researching where to go and what to do, and commit the rest of your time to take action. Even if you end up changing your path after a month or two, it’s almost always better to have taken action rather than to wait and overanalyze the options.
Respect the time and power that it takes to change your brain’s deeper layers- where habits truly reside. Utilize these three tips- make your resolutions into concrete actions, surround yourself with supportive people and environments, and commit to the time it takes to change your brain.
If you’re ready to get started making your body and mind healthier and happier in a welcoming, supportive environment, Body & Brain Yoga is offering membership bonuses in January 2019. Sign up for a 3-month membership and receive a free week. 6 months gets you 2 extra weeks, and a 1-year membership gets you a free extra month. Contact your local Body & Brain center for details. And stick to it.