So how are those New Year's resolutions working out?
It's not even the middle of January, and mine seem to be quickly unraveling. One of my personal resolutions this year is a focus on self care and being in the present. I have a lot I want to tackle this year. I want to experience and savor moments, rather than jumping ahead and worrying how it will all get done. You know, your quintessential "enjoy the journey" mantra.
My self-care illusions of meditation, yoga, exercise, clean eating, adequate sleep, all topped off with a cup of tea, are very quickly being challenged. Everyone is back from the holidays and ready to dive in. I looked at my to-do list on January 9 and wondered how this all ramped up so quickly from the holidays. Hello, I'm only nine days into the new year! Single digits! Where is the calm, serenity and focus of January 2?
OK, deep breath. I'm quickly trying to adapt and refocus on my goals, set only a few days ago. This makes me think of habits, and how we cultivate new ones or enhance existing ones. The New York Times posted an article last week identifying how we can turn resolutions into action. The article states: "To create or change a habit, you have to think much more about altering your environment and patterns of living than work on steeling your mind."
It makes me reflect on my own habits. One I cultivated last year was sitting down each Sunday and trying to map out my week -- what did my work week look like, meal planning, when I could get exercise and meditation in, when I could connect with friends, etc It really helped to gain some control, recommitment and mindfulness of my goals. Over time, it became a habit that I felt lost without. It also helped to remind me, at least once a week, of what my goals were. A few quiet minutes to plan out my week allowed me to readjust to meet my goals within the current environment.
I continue to do this in the new year, but think maybe I need to ramp it up to a more frequent check in, especially when outside forces take me off track. As the above New York Times article suggests, perhaps we have to more regularly visit our goals and readjust current circumstances to meet them. Maybe we thought one approach would work and are now realizing the current environment doesn't support it. Or perhaps the current environment elucidates that a shift in goals needs to occur.
I think it's also important to find an accountability partner, someone you trust with whom you can check in now and again to keep each other accountable to reaching goals. A friend, a colleague, a family member -- doesn't matter who it is, just someone you trust. Someone who can call you out when you're off track but simultaneously help you find ways of readjusting and cheer you on.
The above mentioned article also highlights the importance in planning for missteps and practicing self-forgiveness when we do get off track. We all take a step back backward now and again. Take a deep breath, regroup and be mindful about recommitting to your goals through building new habits.
Author Gretchen Rubin has an upcoming book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives that discusses the relationships of habits and change. (I haven't yet read it, but also on my New Years' list when it comes out. This is what I'm saying. So much I want to do this year.) A recent LinkedIn Influencer article by Rubin highlights the helpfulness of stumbles:
"In fact, a stumble may be helpful, because it shows me where I need to concentrate my efforts in order to do better next time. Planning for a stumble during habit formation almost seems like giving ourselves permission to stumble--but it's not. It's a way to protect a habit."
OK. So as I face mid-January and try to keep the zeal and commitment of New Year's a reality, I am recommitting to regularly checking in with myself to take stock of where I am in my goals. And yep, I'll probably stumble (and probably once or twice a week!) But throughout the process, I'll try to prepare for those stumbles and build some habit protection and self forgiveness. Now on to that cup of tea.