Happy 2017 our wonderful Hope Street community! We very much hope that the holiday period has treated you graciously, respectfully and lovingly.
I like that the end of a year offers us a perfect opportunity for reflection. Globally, 2016 appeared to be a year filled with the deaths of the familiar, tumultuous political environments and unspeakable horror. But there were many other things that happened too. For many of us we might have found brand new favourite and familiar faces. The year also brought to life new ideas and groundbreaking theories and many, many bright flashes of hope. In reflection, may we all try and remain balanced and grounded in our thoughts.
So, I’ve enjoyed reflecting on 2016. Both globally. And personally. Thinking back on my achievements and challenges. The magical moments and the draining and difficult. This curious reflection of the New Year period, I find both purposeful and beneficial.
But as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never quite taken to making resolutions for the New Year.
There is an inherent value in New Year’s resolutions. The New Year provides a wonderful opportunity to improve ourselves or something about our lives and these opportunities should always be seized upon. Many feel that the need resolutions: promises we make to better ourselves.
The thing that I do love about New Year’s resolutions is that they are a built-in opportunity for taking back your power and starting to create your own life versus letting life happen to you. In other words, by creating a resolution you are empowered to get out and go after what you really want, whether it be financial freedom, the relationship of your dreams, a healthy and energetic body, or more presence and joy in life.
However, the thing that often appears to happen with New Year’s resolutions is that they lose their value and power pretty darn quickly. They can’t work magic. It still ultimately comes down to making a choice to change. Whenever we choose to start living it is our choice, and for some it may simply be easier to rely on an outside factor like the annual tradition of making resolutions when everyone else is doing it too.
And change is one of the most difficult things that us humans can do.
Luckily though, there are so many things we can do to help us make our resolutions count and achieve change:
- Start small – It’s best to make resolutions that we think we can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.
- Clearly define your goals – I’m talking SMART goals people. I mean, what does “get healthy” really mean. For some that could mean a paleo diet with cross-fit training every morning. For others, it may mean only five pieces of chocolate a day. If you don’t know what you’re resolution is, how will you know when it’s achieved?
- Track your progress - “If you can measure it, you can change it” is a fundamental principle of psychology. These measurements can be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you are.
- Have patience – And heaps of it. Making lasting changes takes time.
- Change one behaviour at a time - Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.
- Talk about it - Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating.
- Embrace the process – achieving resolutions is a process. It has ups and downs. It also has successes AND failures. And all of this is OKAY. If we learn to embrace the process, we are much more likely to maintain momentum (i.e., “Okay, so I ate a lot of chocolate today, but I will go for a run tomorrow”, rather than engaging in negative such as “I’m a failure now because I ate all that chocolate”.) Self-love and forgiveness is a pretty key part of this process. After all, you are only human.
Good luck with your resolutions my friends. May your resolutions be inspired and your change long lasting.