At the end of every year, my subconscious is inundated by hints from the zeitgeist to create meaningful resolutions for the New Year. I find it remarkably challenging in the post-holiday season to find any fitness/wellness/health/fashion/beauty magazine, particularly those geared towards a female readership, that doesn’t mention resolutions or some sort of self-improvement aims. Additionally, within what seem to be “helpful" is often language about how to avoid failing in our fervent quest to achieve betterment in the new year. This season of resolutions can become a battle between who one can or should be and who one is. To assess what we can improve upon we have to take a good hard look at what needs to be improved. It takes honesty and bravery. As someone who considers this a valuable opportunity for self-reflection, I enjoy the seasonal invitation to reinvest, renew, or conceive of something unforeseen. While I completely understand that many people avoid making resolutions, I believe that part of the challenge lies in the first step, which happens way before you state your resolution. Here are four steps to making and keeping your resolutions this year. If you follow this, you won’t fail! Well, I can’t promise. After all, it is YOU who You have to come to grips with. Easier said than done. Here’s to your success!
First: Take some time to contemplate - Envision Specifics. What do you want more than anything? What have you been doing to achieve that? Who will you be when you have succeeded? How will you feel when you achieve that goal? What will you do with your time, energy, resources otherwise? Is the journey worth it? Take some time to contemplate these questions. This visioning process will clarify about what you are resolving to do and encourage specificity. If you aren’t sure where to start, make a list of pros and cons to working towards that goal. If the goal or dream is an old one, maybe it is time to really go for it this year? Have you really tried or just thought about trying?
Second: Be honest with yourself. Remember hearing, “Nothing worth striving is easy”? That’s true, right? Example: If you aim to run a marathon but don’t have a running practice, are you willing to invest the time and energy to see that goal to its end? If you aim to get out of debt, are you willing to forego some expenses and get down and dirty with your budget? What are you willing to sacrifice? The truth is, you have to establish a goal that you can imagine yourself following through with, even when it gets hard and you are out of your comfort zone. As part of your goal setting, you should imagine yourself a year from now, after having successfully achieved the goal. You also need to become crystal clear about how you will handle hurdles, setback, and letdowns on your way. They will be there and will become unsurpassable excuses if you don’t look at them. If you still aren’t sure of exactly what you want, why you want it, and how you will feel when you have it, spend some more time reflecting. A great way to do this is to create a vision or Pinterest board, which will be a visual collection of your vision. TIP: Don’t set the same goal you set in the past unless you have a new approach.
Third: Find an advocate. Once you have a clear goal, you are going to share this goal and your plan with someone you trust. This person will be your advocate. You can encourage them to reciprocate and will let them know you are hoping to share your resolution as part of your successful planning. Witnessing another’s success reminds us of our own strength and vulnerability in working towards such goals. It is helpful to set a series of dates to check-in and determine progress. If the goal will take the whole year to accomplish, set up regular intervals to check-in on your progress. Make a fun date to discuss your progress or lack thereof and take it seriously. If you miss the date, reschedule until it happens! If they aren’t taking it seriously, find a new advocate. If you encounter difficulty along the way, they will be there to troubleshoot with you, reminding you of the reward of working hard towards this goal. TIP: Make sure this person is an honest friend, non-competitive, and as capable of praise as they are criticism.
Fourth: Build in a reward system for your hard work. While embracing delayed gratification is a sure sign of a high-achiever, your journey will be much more enjoyable if you have small reminders along the way that your hard work is paying off. Ideally, the reward will be somehow related to the resolution. Example: Last year I resolved to make 52 complete and healthy meals from scratch to share with my partner. I started to struggle and had an inner dialogue, complete with the same excuses that made it difficult to cook food before, until about halfway through. I agreed with myself that when I reach 26 meals, which was halfway to my goal, I would treat my guy and myself to a nice dinner out. It worked! I was rewarded for my efforts and enjoyed what I was eating much more because of it. Another example: If you are preparing for the marathon and staying on track, promise yourself a massage or opt for a cheaper option and get yourself flowers to remind yourself of your dedication.
In short, the rule is “make it fun”. Life is too short and our potential is too great to keep our expectations low!
By Whitney Tucker
Whitney Tucker is the Co-Founder of Studio 26. From the hills of southern Illinois, Whitney moved to New York in 2006 to pursue a career in modern dance. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a BFA in Dance Education. Her interests over time have led her to study Capoeira, Contact Improvisation, various lineages of yoga, boxing, and social dance. She draws from experiences as a public school teacher (Vancouver, WA) and from those as the creator/facilitator of a movement-program for women who were recovering from prostitution (Phoenix, AZ). She is a member of David Dorfman Dance and has danced with Tiffany Mills Company and Wire Monkey Dance. She is currently completing certification as a Birth Doula. Whitney has served on staff as a teacher-trainer at the Kane School of Core Integration, where she completed her certification. She arrived at Pilates as a way to manage hyper-mobility and for injury prevention and is grateful for Pilates’ ability to align and balance the internal/subtle body with external chaos.
Photo via: awakeningbusiness.com