A New Perspective on New Year’s Resolutions
The end of the year is such a great time of reflection and review. This time of year often sparks conversations about goal-setting, weight loss, eating healthier, and all the various ways we will work towards feeling and looking better in the upcoming year. For some, this is an exciting opportunity for change. For others, this is a stressful reminder of the events and moments we don’t want to repeat in the upcoming year.
We set exciting goals, dream about this future version of ourselves, and hope for a better year ahead.
And then comes January….
And within a week or two, our zest for change has nearly disappeared.
Every. Single. Year.
Many researchers and mental health professionals have attempted to describe the causes of this phenomenon. Online, you can find many articles describing the steps to effective goal-setting, suggestions for preventing failure…. But somehow, we still seem to struggle to make it to that next level of happiness and success that we are craving.
Why is that?
And a more important question…. What could we do differently this year?
What if we chose to focus on change from the INSIDE-out?
When we focus on all the things we want to DO, we are often adding more to our already-packed to do lists. When we focus more on who we want to BE, we are opening up possibilities that can be incorporated into what we are already doing each day.
Many believe that change is not easy. But that does not have to be your reality. Making small changes to become a better version of yourself can be fun and rewarding. It does not have to be painful and punishing, it does not have to feel like sacrifice and torture. When you choose an area to focus on, and activities that you can truly enjoy, you may find that you are able to stick to your goals more.
True change is more about a mindset than anything else.
What if your New Year’s Resolution was simply To Be a Better Version of Yourself?
If one year from today, you could look back and honestly say that you feel better about yourself and are now showing up as a better version of yourself than you were before, would that be success for you?
If so, consider these following tips to help guide you in becoming your Best Self this year.
- Prioritize self-care and mental health.
- Choose to Be More Mindful
- Focus on Improving Your Nervous System
- Cultivate More Positive Thoughts
Prioritize Self-Care and Mental Health
Our modern lifestyle takes a toll on all areas of our health, but especially on our mental health. No other time in history has challenged our brains and bodies quite like today. Our minds are bombarded with more information than we can often digest. Our bodies are spending time indoors and in sitting positions more than ever before. And we just are not designed for this. Our bodies and minds need a break. Therefore, self-care is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for survival in the modern world.
We must take time to unwind, to find calm and clarity, in order to thrive in this modern world.
Choose To Be More Mindful
Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment. When you are practicing mindfulness, you are not worried about the future, or rehashing moments and thoughts of the past. You are focused on where your feet are planted.
This year, choose one activity you do each day where you find your mind racing and your thoughts getting out of control. And choose to work towards engaging in that activity more mindfully. Maybe every time you are driving, choose to focus on all the cars and sounds in your surroundings. Consider practicing mindfulness while you are cleaning or cooking each day. Or maybe you choose to be fully mindful and engaged when interacting with your children each day, even 20 minutes of mindful interaction daily can greatly improve your relationships. By focusing on your senses, and all that you can see, hear, smell, feel and taste in the moment, you are choosing to be fully present and mindful in your life.
Focus on Improving Your Nervous System
How often do you think about your nervous system and all that your nervous system controls inside your body? If you are like most of us, probably little to no thought goes into thinking about the 100 billion neurons working together in our bodies to create 10,000 times more connections that control every aspect of our mental activity including our thoughts, memory, communication, and ability to learn (see source link below).
Signs that your nervous system might be dysregulated include racing thoughts, difficulty focusing, sleep disturbances, digestive problems, headaches, and so much more.
Although I will focus on this topic more in future posts, there are a few easy tips to begin improving your nervous system today. This includes deep breathing exercises, improving sleep patterns, attending sound immersion sessions, and improving the quality of your thoughts.
Cultivate More Positive Thoughts
This one goal can have a tremendous impact on your health and well-being. According to the MayoClinic, positive thinking not only increases your lifespan and lowers rates of pain and depression, but also can improve your nervous system, cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of dying from cancer and other illnesses. Affirmations, gratitude practices, and journaling can be a great way for reframing thoughts and setting aside time for positive thinking.
Another way to check in with yourself throughout the day is to start practicing a “mental reset” between different activities and routines throughout your day. Driving to and from work each day? Use the time in the car to focus on positive affirmations. You can even use this time to review your mindset from the last activity, or visualize how you want your thinking to be during the next part of your day. Using this time to review the most recent past thinking, and visualize how you want to show up in the near future can be extremely helpful for cultivating more positive thoughts throughout your day.
Choose One Focus at a Time
Which of these suggestions resonate most with you? If all four appear to be areas in need of improvement, try focusing on just one at a time. Maybe break your goals down into weekly or monthly focuses. Maybe January would be a great month for focusing on self-care, while February’s focus can turn to being more mindful.
Whichever goals you choose and strategies you employ to achieve them, remember to have fun with it. Change and growth is a PROCESS, not just a destination. And the more you enjoy the journey, the more likely you are to stick with your focus and achieve the levels of happiness and success you desire most for this upcoming year.