Do you make New Year’s resolutions? A lot of people I know don’t, but personally I love it! Of course I don’t always keep them, but I love that feeling of having a fresh start and I find I get more momentum to make changes at this time of year. Here are some rules I abide by when making resolutions:
1. Keep it simple
First, don’t try to change lots of things at once! Choose a few things that will make a positive difference in your life and focus on those. Also, don’t try to make drastic changes all at once. Figure out some small changes that will start you on a good path. For example, I once resolved to floss every day. This resolution was not that hard to keep and it was a small step that has created a long-lasting habit.
2. Write it down
People who write down their goals are far more likely to actually achieve them. Think about what you want in life and why your resolutions will help you get there. Write down your resolutions and the reasons for them. This will help keep you motivated! For example, if you are trying to quit smoking, write out all the reasons why you want to do this (prevent disease, feel healthier, breathe easier, smell better, etc). When you find yourself having trouble keeping your resolution, go back to this list to remind yourself!
3. Get excited!
This is kind of a no-brainer… Choose things you actually want and hopefully that will be enjoyable to do or achieve! If you find you are resistant to what you are trying to do, ask yourself why? Maybe that choice is not right for you or (more likely) there are strong subconscious forces within you that really WANT to hang on to your old behaviour. Addressing this is key to success. For example, nearly every patient I see wants to lose weight and most of them know things they need to change to do this AND are capable of doing it. So what holds them back? Most often I find that there are many other factors at work that prevent patients from truly being able to make a different choice. Homeopathy is one amazing naturopathic treatment modality to help shift this and open up new choices.
4. Change your brain
Did you know that you can actually change the way your brain works? There are so many ways to do this, but here I’ll mention visualization and meditation, which can work together. Visualization is a tried and true tool for achieving goals. If you can visualize something, you can make it happen. Meditation can encompass so many different things, but at the root it is a way to become more conscious of your mind’s activities and exercise control over them. Meditation is a skill that you build over time that pays off in so many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A great book to start with is Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa.
And when you change your brain, you change what comes to you in life. The law of attraction is a powerful tool that you can use to achieve your goals. For more info on the law of attraction and the power of choice, check on my blog on this topic.
5. Plan, plan, plan!
Planning makes things happen. In addition to setting goals, you need to figure out HOW you will achieve them. Write this down too… For example, several years ago I wanted to reduce my stress levels and improve my mental focus, so I decided to learn meditation. If I had just made my New Year’s resolution “to meditate more” I would not have done much differently. Instead, I made the resolution “to meditate for 10 minutes every day” and I was successful in doing this the entire year! Having this specific plan in place helped me make time each day for this and it quickly became a new habit.
6. Get help
As part of your plan to achieve your goals, you might need some help from others. Support is a key factor in success, so write down what you might need to keep your resolutions. For example, if your resolution is to exercise more, your spouse can help you by taking care of the kids or cooking dinner so you have time to work out and a personal trainer can help you learn to make the most of the equipment available to you at the gym. If your resolution is to change your eating habits, your naturopathic doctor is a great support to teach you how to eat healthier and create a plan of action to help you accomplish this. One of the principles of naturopathic medicine is Docere – Doctor as Teacher.
7. Don’t give up!
Practice truly does make perfect! Nobody is ever good at something the first time they do it, so if you fall off the resolution wagon, climb back on and try again. The more you practice your new behaviour or habit, the better you will become and the easier it will be to continue! For example, getting to bed earlier so I can get more sleep has been a resolution of mine in a few different years. This one required (and still requires!) me to plan my time and get in the habit of doing my “going to bed” routine. And I’ve gotten better and better at this as years go by. Once you do something enough times, it is a lot easier to come back to, even if you stray.