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8 Steps to Keeping Resolutions

8 Steps to Keeping Resolutions

Start Your New Year's Resolution Again!

Don’t worry if you’ve “slipped” a little on your New Year’s Resolution(s), you can still start fresh at any time with these tips! 

  1. Project Management
    • Think of yourself as a Uber successful business and your resolutions/new habits as a new project. Businesses pay big bucks to project managers who break down these projects in to manageable bite size goals to ensure success. For example, the Project may be to “build a skyscraper,” but that doesn’t give the CEO any idea of where to begin, and the project (like your resolutions) can easily become overwhelming.  Utilize S.M.A.R.T goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. Becoming a world-class chef isn’t a S.M.A.R.T goal for the average person as it may not be realistic and there isn’t a time either. However, “Become a great chef by signing up for a 6-month graded cooking class next week,” is a SMART goal as it is very specific, it is timely and can be measured by if you pass the class within 6 months, is achievable, and realistic.
    • The key here is to list your big vision goal, and then list the tiny (manageable) steps you can take to make progress each and everyday and promote continued growth. Instead of saying, I’ll do yoga everyday for one year. Break it down to one month at a time and what you need to do on Days 1-30 to make that happen. The first step would be to take out your yoga mat each morning. That right there is a victory!  Starting Day 2, you can practice for a minimum of 1 minute each day, on Day 3 you can increase to 2 minutes (or more/day).  Setting up easily attainable goals that build on each other exponentially will greatly increase your chances for success.  
    • What is success to you? If your goal is yoga for 365 consecutive days and you only do it for 364, is that considered a failure to you? I don’t think it is, and I hope that you give yourself the proper metrics of success so that you can shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
  2. One Goal at a Time
    • Losing 20 pounds, running a 6 minute mile, learning Chinese, visiting Thailand, joining a choir etc. are all great goals and I hope we can all achieve these. However, let’s utilize the yoga principle of “Eka Grata” Or single-minded focus to ensure that we can achieve one goal at a time and give it our full attention. If you’re having trouble deciding which goal you want to achieve, write them down and then divide that list by half of the highest priorities, then by half again, and continue until you come to the single most important goal for now. Keep the list so that when you accomplish the first goal, then you can move on to the others.
  3. Forgiveness
    • If you are able to keep to your goal 100% for the time you allotted, then you are a true inspiration. The rest of us may find that we miss a day or two, or eat a cookie when we said we wouldn’t. The key to ensure success is to not give up after the first speed bump, but instead immediately forgive yourself, applaud yourself for the efforts you have made thus far, and encourage yourself to improve the next day. 
    • Consider giving the same love and support you would to a dear friend who told you they said no chocolate for one month (crazy, I know) and they only made it to 6 days before indulging in some delicious cacao, and were now feeling guilty. Would you yell at them, ridicule them, and say that they failed? Or would you congratulate them on making it 6 days and encourage them to continue towards their goal and that having chocolate once or twice in a month, is such an improvement compared to the full chocolate bar/day that they were used to. Try giving yourself this same support and love.
  4. Replace Old Habits with New Happy Habits
    • When we give ourselves a stimulus our brain releases dopamine, which makes us feel good (at least for a brief moment). Dopamine is the chemical which motivates us to do something repeatedly until it becomes a habit, through reward and reinforcement (good and bad habits alike) If we all of a sudden stop this habit and don’t replace it with something else, then we are setting ourselves up for failure, not success. Say a smoker decides to quit smoking cold turkey. Now their brain is missing that dopamine shot it was used to getting, and the smoker may feel low. The key is to start a new happy habit that replaces the enjoyment they used to get from smoking or cookies. When I feel a craving, I like to do some physical movement that releases endorphins, which helps makes me feel great, and then I’m also proud of myself for replacing my old habit with a much healthier alternative.  
  5. Talk to Yourself
    • I used to pretend that I didn’t have voices in my head because I didn’t want to be “crazy.”  I now realize that many of us experience “voices” or “thoughts” in the form of a critic, judge, or angel/devil persona. Instead of pretending these voices/thoughts aren’t happening, try the following practice alone; set up 3 chairs next to each other, and sit in the middle chair as yourself. Next, allow yourself to take on your inner critic role and move to whichever seat feels correct. Sit there for a few breaths as you connect to this, “voice” and allow yourself to name it; maybe Mom, Dad, or a sibling. Next, allow the judgement words to come out in verbal dialogue and then ask your critic what their goal is in telling you these things? My critic voice was that of my mom, and I was able to realize that she just wanted the best for me, but didn’t quite know how to communicate it to me. Now, transition to your inner cheerleader and move to the remaining seat. Allow this entity to say all of the empowering motivation that you would give to a young child learning to ride a bike. Finally, come back to your true self, and summarize the words and intentions from both your critic and cheerleader, and see if you can create a harmonious balance between the two. Naming these personas also helps to not be controlled by them. If the critic is my mother’s voice, I have the power to not take those words to heart and instead allow my cheerleader to encourage me towards my goals.
    • Just allowing these “negative” voices to speak takes away their power over us so quickly and dramatically. So, I recommend giving yourself a daily pep talk similar to Stewart Smiley from Saturday Night Live. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. I know these may seem silly, but something similar really does help. Also, when you feel the critic coming on, allow it to speak, and then tell it that you appreciate it’s attempt to help you, but you love yourself too much to be derailed by words.
  6. Social Support
    • I find that community makes a stronger person in anything I do, and that a certain degree of friendly accountability motivates me through the tough days to stay true to my mission. Signing up at a gym or yoga studio is a great way to build a community of like minded individuals who can support you on your path, and help to pick you up when you are feeling down. If this isn’t an option, you can ask a trusted friend to gently hold you accountable to your resolution and check in on you. As great of an idea as it sounds to have a lover hold you accountable, it’s not. I know from experience and hope that you can avoid this potential pitfall. If you are, however, in the kind of relationship where you both thrive by holding each other accountable to your resolutions, then that’s awesome and I applaud you.
  7. Strength AND Flexibility
    • Stay strong and committed to your goal and do your very best not to give into the temptation to waiver. Depending on the new habit, try and do it at the same time and in the same place everyday to create a solid foundation. Neural pathways are created in our brain based on our habits and behaviors. As we incorporate new habits, they will get stronger with our repetition. The old myth was that it took 21 days to create a new habit, but science has shown that 66 days is more accurate.  
    • Remember to stay flexible with your habit and not get down if something comes up that requires you to adapt your habit for one or two days. If, for example, your goal is to go to the gym everyday for 6 months, but one day there is an ice storm and the gym is closed, you can just do a workout at home. If your goal is to practice yoga for 1 year and you pull a muscle, you can practice the yoga of meditation while the muscle heals, or focus on other body parts instead of pushing yourself through an injury.
  8. Celebrate Your Victories!
    • As you progress day by day and adhere to your goals to achieve your New Year’s Resolution, make sure you take the time to celebrate your victories, no matter how little they appear to be. Setting up rewards in advance is a great way for you to motivate yourself to push through that extra day or two when you may want to give in. Make sure to have a HUGE celebration planned when you do achieve your New Year’s goal successfully (even if it wasn’t 100% perfect). Pat yourself on the back, treat yourself to a delicious meal and a massage.  You’ve earned it!

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