It was January of 2009. I had big plans for the year. I was going to meditate more regularly, exercise more frequently, travel places, spend time with my boyfriend and family and lose the belly fat. By March, not only had I not achieved any of these things, I was beginning to feel like a ginormous loser.
I learned later that I wasn’t alone in my inability to work through my resolutions. 88% of all new year resolutions fail and there was a scientific explanation to why: The area of the brain that operates willpower (to execute on resolutions) is also responsible for other functions like focus, short-term memory, solving abstract tasks etc. As a result, we aren’t able to give the time, energy and effort to carry out our resolutions.
It’s a great idea to review a block of time (a year, month or week) and get clear about the road ahead. It’s also important though to get to the heart of the matter and ask why we want what we want.
Let your heart be your compass. It will guide your calendar and clock. (Tweet it)
Here are my tips to enjoying a new year evolution:
How do you want to feel?
New year resolutions tend be be very heavy on doing, accomplishing, achieving. I invite you to flip that idea on it’s head and instead ask yourself “How do I want to feel in the new year?” Our emotions come charged with energy and it is easy to run with that electric flow than with to-dos created by the mind. This inner clarity will guide your outer decisions and you’ll likely have way more fun than you expected getting to your goals. I love Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map – she has a distinct roadmap to approach your goals with soul.
I highly recommend keeping a journal by your side as you begin your 2014 adventures. Journals are great tools to help us tap into our own hidden reservoirs of creativity and inner-growth. By writing in them, we engage our mind, body and heart. It is a holistic method of self-discovery. So as you try out different ideas and activities, make notes whenever possible. You might find some patterns emerge that will serve you in the months to come. Here are four reasons to start journaling.
Ask yourself why you want it?
Sometimes we get mixed up between a desire that is truly ours and one that our culture demands of us. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds or make a 350,000 this year. Ask yourself “why”. Typical answers will be for 1. I want to wear a bikini in the summer and 2. I want to live well, afford a trip to Europe etc. Ask yourself why you want these. Maybe your answers now will be 1. I want to feel good and confident about myself and 2. I want adventure. Now these are more realistic goals. If you dig even deeper you will arrive at the essence of your desires. You might find some other ways to fulfil these desires or access your real motivation to pursue these original goals.
Keep an open mind (and heart)
I often find myself limited by what I ‘think’ is possible by and for me. In order for new-ness to flow through, we need to release all old beliefs and thought-patterns and stay open. I invite you to approach the rest of the year with an open mind and heart. While I’m big on making plans, I keep them as guidelines. Life can be spontaneous and surprising, it might have grander plans for you that you never imagined for yourself. It helps to be flexible and light-hearted.
“Smile breathe and go slowly” as Thich Nhat Hanh says (Tweet it)
Bring your inner child
Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. Remember a time when you believed in magic, unicorns and limitless possibilities? As children we used to be deeply connected to our true, authentic, filled-with-dreams self. This year, please connect with your inner child and ask for her input on things. You will find her honesty, playfulness and excitement very refreshing on this journey.
You don’t have to wait for the year to end to re-evaluate your life’s priorities and get charged up about making positive changes. Every full moon, every menstrual cycle, every week and every morning we have the opportunity to release the old and invite the new. In fact it is impossible to make annual plans without breaking them down into smaller chunks like months and weeks. As women we have the unique gift of menstruation. The left and right brain are in equal communication during menstruation. It’s a good time to review, release and re-evaluate things.
What are you most looking forward to in 2014? What are some of your dreams and goals?