Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life, the saying goes, but sometimes tomorrow is also the beginning of a new year: Since the parties are over, the turkey is soup and the fudge is pudge, it’s the ultimate time to commit to new habits.
According to a wealth of websites, the most common New Year’s resolutions have to do with weight loss, fitness, finances, quality time with loved ones, learning something new, quitting smoking and … getting organized. What can you do to make 2011 different? What can help make this year’s resolutions stick when those of years past didn’t?
The One Day at a Time maxim from 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous can be a good basis for success in developing new habit patterns. “I am not going to indulge in ice cream, just for today,” is less daunting than “I am never going to have ice cream again.” Also, if you do slip up, instead of throwing the whole program out the window, begin again the next day, or better yet, the next moment.
Keeping a journal is another wonderful way to anchor new habits for a successful outcome. Julia Cameron, author of the hugely popular book, “The Artist’s Way,” suggests three pages worth each morning with no editing, no judgment and no sharing with anyone else. If you write out three pages about your resistance to filing papers, for example, you’re bound to come to some kind of breakthrough and perspective.
Using your calendar as a record keeper can also keep you on track. For many people seeing a pattern of promises kept, like accomplishing three workouts a week for a month or 20 consecutive days without a cigarette, motivates them to keep going.
Keep your resolutions realistic. If for the past five years your resolution has been to lose 50 pounds, this year make it five or 10 pounds. Take baby steps. If you’ve never run a mile, don’t resolve to run a marathon this spring; try a 5K. There’s nothing like success to ingrain a new habit.
Don’t wait for motivation to suddenly strike you. Remember, a body in motion is likely to stay in motion, and a body zoned out on the couch is not likely to lose weight, learn a new language or create a budget. Movement creates a better mood and improved energy — just what you will need to stick to your resolutions. Put on your favorite music and get going.
Don’t neglect involving your spirit in the endeavor. The Spencer Institute, which offers certification in holistic life coaching, states, “When we view ALL possible contributions to the current state, a better and more comprehensive resolution is created.”
Personal growth author Wayne Dyer says, “As a holistic being, you shatter the illusion of your separateness and reveal your connection to everything. This empowers you in a way that the ego-driven self could never contemplate.” Meditation, prayer or time in nature are all wonderful ways to involve spirit in our resolutions and remind us of the bigger reasons we are seeking health, wealth, love and a well-organized office.