It’s the end of the year – and amidst glasses of champagne, sparkling confetti, last minute gifts and all the other wild things which happen around the last day of the year, we all have the same thing on our minds: our New Year’s resolution.
For many of us, 2020 will be a year of changes – we want to be healthier, stronger, slimmer, clutter-free, debt-free, and a multitude of other things. Granted, most of these things are rooted in good intentions, but often we sabotage ourselves right at the very beginning by starting out the year with negativity.
Negativity, you ask? How is filling our minds with good intentions negative?
Let me explain. Last year, I didn’t make a traditional resolution, because I didn’t understand why I was doing it. As hopeful as I wanted to be, I knew that I wouldn’t follow through with anything for 365 days, even if it was something I really wanted to do. The truth was, I felt pressured more than anything, and when I feel pressured, I completely shut down.
Instead, I devoted my time to figuring out how to achieve the things I wanted to achieve – which also included following through on a New Year’s resolution – without frustrating myself into inaction.
It turns out that while New Year’s resolutions are helpful for some people to get started, people like me make them out of guilt – I feel as though I should be something other than what I am, solely because other people around me are different. Perhaps I should be healthier, make better fiscal choices, and spend more of my time outside and less on my phone. But when I do these things because I feel as though other people are judging me when I don’t do them, I trap myself into a cycle of guilt and self-judgement which only stops me from making any true progress. And while this may motivate me for a while, it eventually wears me down to the point where I simply can’t continue on with my goal, even if it’s something I really care about.
This is the negativity I mentioned before.
So how, then, do we challenge ourselves without giving in to negative reinforcement, as mentioned above? . Below are a few ways I’ve discovered which helped me to achieve my goals this year.
1. Build up Positive Momentum
It’s better to run towards something rather than away from something. In yoga, we rarely do yoga for the purpose of losing weight – instead, we focus on building strength and providing for our bodies.
Since a lot of New Year’s resolutions center around health and body weight, I think this is one of the most important things to remember, because it can be difficult to follow through on a diet or a workout when we feel as though we aren’t making progress. Stepping on the scale without seeing the numbers change gets old, and indeed I can empathize with those out there who feel as though they aren’t in control of their weight.
When we focus on positive momentum, however, we stop looking at what we’re losing and focus on what we’re gaining. Although the weight may not melt off of our bodies, we can be happy that we are building a healthier lifestyle, which has immediate results every single day. We have the opportunity to grow, to improve, and to nourish our bodies, and this is something which can help us to go the distance, and maybe lose the weight we don’t want to carry around.
Another thing about Positive Momentum is that is doesn’t get old. Unlike activity inspired by fear (which I guess we could call Negative Momentum), Positive Momentum energizes us rather than wearing us out. It gets us up in the morning, encourages us to do better, and is there with us every step of the way. Setting our mindset on goals which gain something rather than lose something help us to strive for a better way of life, which is, ultimately, the point of New Years’ Resolutions.
2. Set Goals All You Want, But Be Honest With Yourself
Earlier, I mentioned that I didn’t set a resolution for 2019, yet I still met plenty of goals I made for myself that year. The secret here is that I was honest with myself from the very beginning.
This doesn’t mean, however, that I gave up on myself before I even started. I knew that setting a resolution would be an extremely depressing way to start the year, because right from the get-go I would let it slide. There would be days I would be too tired, or too busy, or I would simply forget. But this doesn’t mean that we should just forget everything and refuse to make progress.
In being honest with ourselves, we acknowledge the ways in which we need to grow, and we nurture ourselves into becoming better versions of what we previously were. We allow ourselves to slip up, but also challenge ourselves into taking accountability for what we do. But how can we put this into action in any practical way?
The method which works best for me is simply to respond to myself with what I mentioned before: Positive Momentum. Here are a few examples:
1. I want to be healthier this year, but I know that I won’t work out every week just for the heck of it. In order to generate Positive Momentum, I can set a goal to run 3 miles this week – one mile a day, three times a week – and then reward myself with something yummy after I have completed this goal. Then I can repeat this goal next week, and the next, and the next. If I don’t complete it this week, I will start over next week.
2. I want to educate myself this year, but I’m afraid that I won’t follow through on educational activities outside of class. So instead, I will set a goal to learn one new thing this month, and then celebrate when I have done this.
3. I want to declutter my home, but I know that as soon as I start going through my things, I won’t find anything I want to give away. Instead of stressing about this, I will not buy anything without giving away something first – and then I will celebrate.
Do you see anything that these three things have in common? They all include a celebration at the end! This is something which I think is vital in achieving goals. In order to keep generating Positive Momentum, we must continue to encourage ourselves by chasing little rewards along the way. This leads into my third point, which is:
3. Celebrate the Little Victories
Getting up in the morning, drinking 64 ounces of water, having a healthy snack, cleaning off a surface…all of these things deserve a celebration of some sort. Oftentimes I trap myself into feeling hopeless, because I refuse to celebrate my achievements until I reach the biggest of my goals. Let me tell you how detrimental this is to your mental health!
Not only does it sabotage your goals, it stops you from moving forward. So take my advice, my friend, and celebrate the little things!
I hope that this year, you see positive changes in the way that you live. I hope you achieve everything you set your mind to. I hope that this article helps you to power through and level up in the coming months. Most importantly, I hope that this is the year you make changes for the better – and that those changes actually stick.
Nothing is more frustrating than starting a resolution at the beginning of the year, only to see it fall flat. So my final piece of advice to you is this: don’t be afraid to start over. We are all human. We all fall short. It’s okay to start again.
Let 2020 be your year – and thank you for sharing it with me!
Want to read more? Check out my article https://therealanxiousintrovert.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/5-ways-to-be-more-productive-with-your-smart-phone/