New Years Changes. We all want to make them, but some of us seem to struggle more with the fulfillment of those resolutions than others. You may have all the best intentions in the world, but come February, you’re right back in the same old rut and beating yourself up for your failed attempts while throwing back another glass of wine and some chocolates to drown out the disappointment. Sound familiar?
Take a breath. It’s ok. Trust me, failing to follow through with your New Year’s resolutions does NOT make you a failure at life. It does not make you a failure at your job, or your health, or your relationships, or your finances or anything else that you so desperately want to change but just can’t seem to nail down. In fact, I want to throw out the notion of New Year’s resolutions all together and instead start talking about small, gentle shifts in action and perception that close the doors on shame and fear and open the doors to curiosity and acceptance.
Many people come to coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists and other healing practitioners in order to make monumental changes. You’re tired of living out the same old habits that leave you feeling like less than the amazing person you are but aren’t sure where to start or can’t find the motivation to get there on your own. But over the years, in watching people make transformations, I’ve come to determine that there are a few simple rules to follow that either make or break our goals.
One of the common, and yet most detrimental, things we as humans tend to do is to bite off way more than we can chew and then give up when we can’t swallow. Gross metaphor, but you get it. New Year’s resolutions tend to bring out grandiosity and future-tripping. What I mean by this is that we get caught up in these stories of “When I do this, then I’ll be perfect…” or “Once I do this, I’ll be happy…” “This year will be my best year ever and I’ll never experience a set back ever again!” --- and we run off into the sunset not realizing we have no idea where we’re going or how we’re going to get there. I’m sure you can see where this is going, but ultimately, we end up feeling defeated, lost and confused and right back at square one believing all the worst things about ourselves.
But what if there was another way? What if there was another route we could take that would lead us not into despair and hopelessness but into joy, creativity, kindness and openness? Wouldn’t you rather take that journey?
The way to this path is not as shiny. It doesn’t reside in 12-week total body transformations you see on social media platforms or ‘6-months to become a millionaire’ e-books. No, this type of transformation is the smaller, quieter of the two. Its changes come in gentle nudges, often along with dark nights of the soul, and the tiny voices that whisper “keep going” on days when it doesn’t feel so pretty and shiny.
When we truly sign a contract with the universe, it doesn’t matter any more how long it takes us to fulfill it, because our consciousness can no longer live in the space it once did. It’s an in-between space, and one that often makes us a bit queasy, a bit unsettled, but is necessary to reside in until we come out on the other side. It’s the space where we know we can go back but we also aren’t entirely sure how to BE this new person. It’s unfamiliar and even painful at times, but if we can learn to exist peacefully and willingly in this space, without running from the unknowning-ness of it, we will get to the other side much faster. This is what separates those that attain their goals from those who continue to run in circles back to comfort. The ability to lie in the waiting space, the uncomfortable space, the space where we feel like children learning to walk again. We will be wobbly. We will fall down. But we will also rise, let go of the chair and walk and, one day, even run. But it takes time, and commitment and practice and anyone who tries to tell you different most likely hasn’t gone through the process fully.
So, how do we make these long-lasting changes stick?
Make smaller, more manageable goals. Instead of committing to “lose weight” or “quit eating sugar,” which are incredibly vague and intangible, shoot for something you can do every single day consistently. For example, perhaps I’m going to lose weight turns into “I’m going to eat a salad 4 days of the week” or “I’m going to yoga class every Tuesday and Thursday.” And that’s it. You don’t pile on 5 other goals or overshoot and try to do more. You simply do that, every week until it’s a consistent habit, so much a part of your life that it doesn’t feel like work. Then, and only then, when you have mastered the baby steps and they have become almost mindlness activities, do you tackle another one. And then another and another and another until you’ve slowly woven this new perception into the daily fabric of who you are. This is where real change exists my friends. This is how you peel back the layers covering up the beautiful essence of who you really are and blossom into the best version of yourself. It’s not through willpower or force. It’s not through deprivation or restriction. It’s through love, and gentleness and kindness. It’s through treating yourself like you would a dear friend or a child learning something new for the first time. It’s with patience and acceptance of the journey.
Happy New Year! Wishing you a beautiful journey!