As the year comes to a close, most of us tend to start thinking about our resolutions for the next year ahead. This is the time of year when diet programs and gym memberships soar. Unfortunately, a lot of people start with high hopes and good intentions but just end up feeling defeated.
We didn’t create the lives we have in a single day, and it’s unrealistic to think that we can completely change them overnight. But what we can do is take the first step on a journey to something better. We can reimagine what mental and physical health and wellness looks like. And we can make incremental changes that build into incredible changes over time.
I’d like to help you avoid the disheartening experience of taking on too much, too fast, by sharing my four favorite, attainable, healthy New Years’ Resolutions for your vision board. It all begins with opening your mind to new possibilities. And it doesn’t involve exercise or dieting!
No matter where we want to go, it’s always good to start with gratitude for where we are right now. There are so many things to be grateful for – friends and families, bodies that have gotten us this far, opportunities to keep improving and evolving. Keeping a gratitude journal is truly magical for a couple of very specific reasons.
The first is that it helps us acknowledge and appreciate the good things we encounter and experience every day. Recognizing the beauty and kindness and comforts that already surround us brings us more joy right now. The second is that it slowly and subtly retrains our brain to look for goodness and positivity, which continues to bring us joy in the future.
Personally, I like the ritual of having a pretty journal and putting my thoughts down on paper, but you may prefer to keep it on your phone so you have it with you as you notice things throughout the day. The time required is practically zero, but the benefits are priceless.
So much of what we do in our daily lives is purely out of habit. We don’t even think about what we are doing. Sometimes we drive the same route so often that we arrive at our destination and don’t really remember how we got there. We were simply checked out and operating on auto-pilot. Mindfulness is about being present and paying attention.
As far as attainable resolutions go, this is as good as it gets. It doesn’t require us to do anything differently. It simply asks us to think about what we are doing. Be aware of our deepest desires and intentions. Feel our muscles tighten, stretch, and relax. Consider the short- and long-term value of the things we put in our bodies. Then, make conscious choices.
Even without changing our behavior, we start building a deeper understanding of what we are feeling and doing and how those thoughts and actions affect each other. Just think about it… literally. I can promise you that mindfulness will lead to meaningful change.
We all know the maxim that “you get out what you put in.” And we naturally tend to think about it in concrete terms like the effort we put into exercise or the food we put into our bodies. But I believe there is something more to the idea, if we look a little deeper. It not only applies to what we actively do, it also applies to what we passively experience.
Everything we see and hear, from television and books to our own self-talk, impacts the way we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us. When we focus on kindness, we find compassion. When we imagine possibilities, we invite opportunity. When we believe in ourselves, we manifest success. Even if it’s just an inspiring quote, let’s sow a seed of something positive and uplifting in the fertile ground of our minds each day.
One powerful way to implement this particular New Year resolution is to repeat affirming mantras – out loud. I am strong. I am capable. I am worthy. I am beautiful. When we proclaim our value and potential, our brains hear us. And they believe us. So, let’s record a new mental tape that builds us up instead of tearing us down.
It seems that we always manage to find time for everyone else, but we never seem to have enough time for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly support generosity of spirit and acts of service. I also understand that to give our best, we need to be our best. And that requires enough self-care to replenish our reserves.
Put yourself on the calendar. That’s all. Just block out time for what you need. Maybe it’s ten minutes of meditation in the morning. Perhaps it’s twenty minutes to join me for a kitchen burn. It could be carving out an eight-hour window for eating, so that you can intermittently fast a few hours before bed and after you wake up.
Time can actually be on our side, if we treat our time the same way we do our kids’ appointments, our work schedule, etc. Again, I want to point out that the only ask here is that we put our plans in our calendar. That way, when unexpected things inevitably arise, you simply have to schedule them around the time you’ve allotted for yourself.
Just Keep Going
The great thing about these resolutions is that they do not require us to upend our lives to change our lives. The more we honor these commitments to ourselves, the more we reap the benefits. If we miss a day or make a mistake or fall back into old habits, we can pick right back up where we left off. And it will keep getting easier over time.
There is no way to fail unless you give up. So remind yourself daily to practice gratitude, stay mindful, pursue positivity, and put yourself on the schedule.