Written by Dr. Jesse Hanson, MA, PhD, RP, co-founder and clinical director of Helix Healthcare Group
It’s a new year, and with that comes a list of resolutions that you promise yourself you’ll keep this year. Everything from lose weight and stay fit to save more money or get out of debt, butt out for good, or spend more time with family and friends. Research conducted by the University of Scranton, which was updated in 2015, suggested that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.
If you’re ready to commit to keeping your resolutions this year, I’ve shared some strategies below that will help.
Resolutions can be stressful and can negatively affect our mental health. The first rule, is don’t make resolutions for the sake of taking part in the New Year’s ritual. Resolutions are typically general and made on the fly, so within months (sometimes even weeks!) you’ve fallen off the resolutions train. When you set yourselves up for failure, you progressively alter your mental state, and year and after year of failed resolutions will affect your capacity to be motivated. Slowly, you can become apathetic, which can negatively affect careers, relationships with family and friends, and be cause for a lack of purpose.
Take some time to think about each of your goals, and include a reasonable deadline, measurable targets and tactics to ensure resolutions are attainable. Instead of ‘I’ll lose weight in 2016’, think: ‘I will work towards losing 10 lbs by July 2016. To reach that goal, I will work-out at least 30 minutes a day, twice a week, and work up to five days of activity.’ ‘I’ll spend more time with family and friends in 2016’ becomes ‘Once a month, I’ll schedule a visit with my family, and mark it on the calendar. Once a month, I’ll set up a catch-up dinner with so-and-so.”
Surround yourself with reminders
A common mistake when making yearly resolutions is that they aren’t written down. They’re verbally stated as part of conversations post-celebrations; ‘So what are your resolutions this year?’ If resolutions are written down, they’re done so in journals and are easily forgotten.
Write your resolutions down and keep them within eyesight; write them on a Post-It and stick it to your office computer, hang a copy on your fridge and keep a copy on your bedside table, or even on your bathroom mirror. These gentle reminders will empower your thoughts to success.
Practice mindfulness daily
Mindfulness is a state of being continuously and completely aware of your thoughts and of the present moment. It’s a wellness technique that we often practice with our clients at Helix Healthcare Group, and a valuable one that expands our capacities to bring about appropriate action, instead of just reaction.
After sometime, reading your resolutions daily becomes automatic, and you can lose the purpose of your resolution. Practicing mindfulness as your read your resolution allows you to be aware of the words and action behind each resolution.
The act of mindfulness can be exercised at home. It’s as simple as taking five minutes a day to open your mind and attention to the present moment. We offer group classes at Helix Healthcare Group on mindfulness meditation and breathing, teaching clients how to combine breathing and mind/body exercises that will expand their awareness, helping to bring both attention and intention into their lives.
There are apps available to help guide your mindfulness meditation, or you can try this guided waking meditation track from Helix to boost your confidence each morning.
Resolutions are a great tool for self-reflection and self-improvement, and armed with these tips, you’ll be on the road to success this 2016!