As I watch the fat white snowflakes gracefully dance in the Denver air, I am reflective of the year 2010 and am eager to set forth into a new year — which will bring new hopes, changes, challenges, and growth. What are your goals for the new year? Is there anything that you would like to change? Or that you would like to build upon and nurture, as you grow deeper roots? It’s the time of year when we sit down and make those resolutions — some of which we will keep and some of which will slip right out of our consciousness. What makes a resolution one that we keep and set our minds to in attempts to realize it? I think that a resolution that poses challenges and changes in our life is one that is both exciting and terrifying to make. Why? Because it causes us to consider ourselves where we are at this moment in our lives — if we are happy in our career, if we feel healthy and able, if we feel fulfilled in the relationships we have with ourselves and others. Often, there is room to grow in many of the areas in our lives, giving us a great opportunity to choose our next path. However, this possibility for growth and renewal may cause feelings of dissatisfaction or disappointment with ourselves as we are right now, in this present moment, and can initiate doubts about our ability to actually achieve that goal we have set.
I want to encourage you to set goals, and to make plans to realize them in steps that are comfortable and realistic. You may want to try running so that you can compete in a half marathon next year; plan work-outs that start simple and short, and slowly build up. And let yourself take a break if you need it! I have a colleague who makes lists of goals and wishes for her life and business every year. As I was talking to her and asking “did you achieve all of your goals for 2010?”, she said “I’m not sure yet; it’s probably a mixture of achievements and goals-in-progress. The number of “wins” is not what matters — it is the fact that you believe that your life will be that way in the new year and that positive mentality motivates you to try to improve your life”. This statement really sticks with me — that you believe your life and yourself have the possibility of making changes, and setting that intention is the most crucial factor of resolutions. Believing that you can do it — and if you don’t, you may feel that it is a challenge that takes more time and focus, or that it was a goal that might not be as important as you first thought. But if you believe that you can, then the feelings of guilt and shame that typically accompany a “failure” will not pull any weight with you. There will be no room for them.
New year’s resolutions can be challenging in ways other than setting the intention to achieve them. Goals such as going to the gym or buying a piece of exercise equipment require financial investment. Changing eating patterns or taking up a new hobby also require enough financial comfort to try — and try again. For many of us, these types of intentions are out of reach for multiple reasons. This does not need to be a recipe for giving up and feeling defeated. You can make positive changes in your life with little or no financial cost, though you may need to be a little more creative about it. Creativity and effort towards reaching your goal will open other doors for you as you may discover a new hobby, book, or activity that you had never tried before.
Here are a few low or no-cost resolutions for a healthy mind and body that you can make for yourself in the new year: go to the park and appreciate the season, write a letter to your grandmother or mother (a real letter, not an email!), keep a gratitude journal and record every evening three things for which you are thankful, write a letter to yourself listing the things you hope to change and achieve in the new year, go on a walking or running tour of the city in which you live, think about new hobbies or interests you would like to cultivate and borrow books, cds, audio books, or DVDs from the library. What other ideas do you have?
Being healthy requires care and attention to your mind and to your body. They are interconnected, and if there is discomfort or pain in one of them, you will certainly feel it in the other. Often, one or the other is neglected and we can focus our anxiety or stress intently on the part of ourselves that is not being taken care of. I encourage you to treat yourself with kindness and respect and hope that you can make that a goal for the new year. It takes work to do so, as it is not a concrete task…but it will heap many rewards of inner peace and contentment. We are all capable of turning our awareness to encouraging and enriching tasks and thoughts, and taking the power away from the negative and draining feelings that may plague us by the end of the year (or by the end of January!) Challenge yourself to do this! There is always an opportunity to have a fresh start and cultivate a life with mind, body, and spirit in harmony. You deserve to be the healthiest, happiest, and most balanced version of yourself that you can imagine!
Peace and health in the new year! Have a wonderful holiday!