Do you cringe when you think of making new year's resolutions? Each year many of us plan big changes for ourselves. We finish up the year in a flurry of holiday excitement and stress, then begin to plan to start our new year off on the right foot! No more of the same old! So, we diligently set resolutions. We resolve to eat better, exercise, stop smoking, spend more time with our families or even get a new job. Whatever it may be, we have the best of intentions and we are determined to accomplish it this time. Why then, do nearly all of our resolutions fail?
If it is so impossible as it seems, should we simply give up making resolutions? Just label them as a lost cause and forget it? Absolutely not! If you are aspiring to make positive changes in your life, I am here to tell you that it is completely possible! You may be wondering how, since the mortality rate of resolutions is so high. Well, let's find out, shall we?
First of all, everyone seems to get hung up on the thought that you have to implement changes on January first, or maybe the second. Why is that? Because it's the start of the new year? Sure, it's a nice neat starting point, but so is any other day of the year. Let's look at it this way. The new year starts, you start with enthusiasm toward your resolved big changes, and you fail to meet expectations. Now you are at the end of January, the middle of February, where ever, and that's it. The start of the year is gone, you've had your chance and failed. What's wrong with starting again? Is there an unwritten rule that I am not aware of that says all big changes must be implemented at the start of a new year or not at all? You can choose to make changes at any time of the year. The first of the year is good, but so is any other day of the year. The best time to implement any big change is when you are in a good frame of mind to do it. Notice that I said "good" and not perfect. There will never be a time when it is "perfect". You can wait for your finances to become extraordinary, for the planets to align, or for an amazing diet pill to come out to make losing weight a sure fire thing, but chances are, it's not going to happen. So let's aim for "good". If you aim for that, then you will be giving yourself a strong start, no matter what day of the year it is.
Secondly, and most importantly, and this is truly the key to success...Process, process, process! This is where the power lies! It lies in the mindfulness of each step along the way to your ultimate goal. When you focus on where you are at this moment, on that process and the process alone, you are handing yourself the keys to success! Many people spend so much time all wrapped up and tangled in their goal, that they forget about the process.
Let's say for example that your "goal" is reaching the top of a high mountain. What is the best way to reach that mountain top? How can you be standing up there and gasping at the amazing views and scenery from that vista? Let's first imagine that you are focused strongly on your goal. You are committed to reaching that mountain top, and you don't take your eyes off the goal for a second, you are just so focused on it. Now, because you are so determined and so focused on the ultimate goal of reaching that wonderfully high bit it earth, what do you think will happen along the way? You can see the goal so clearly and you have every intention of getting there, but you, my friend, are going to stumble and struggle, you may even fall. How can this be? You are committed, determined and totally focused on reaching that goal. How can getting there be such a problem?
The problem lies in the focus. Not a lack of focus but on what you have focused on. When aiming for a goal, many people forget to focus on the process. Being committed to a goal and focused on the outcome is all fine and noble. However, if you truly want to reach that mountain top, your focus needs to shift. You need to let go of the goal for the moment (believe me, that mountain top isn't going anywhere! Neither is any other goal you set your sights on), just let it be for now. Take a deep breath, and turn your focus to the process. Turn your awareness to the steps. Bring your focus back to you and where you are on the way to that goal. What do you need to be doing to reach that goal, right at this moment? That's where you need to put your focus and energy, simple as that. Too easy, huh? Simplicity is an amazing gift.
Now, let's revisit the mountain top again. Take a good look at it. See where you have to go. Look at the ground you have to cover to get there. Become aware of it, but don't get attached to it. Make sure it is clear. Ok, now let it go. Turn your thoughts to what you need to do to get there. Look at where you are and watch exactly what you are doing to move forward up that mountain. Where do you have to put your feet, your hands? Choose the position carefully, and start moving up the mountain. Now just keep your focus there, where ever on that climb you happen to be. At the bottom of the mountain, just starting off? Midway up? It's all good. Don't look up, and don't look down! Just focus right where you are. Every little step you take is just as important as the goal, maybe even more important because without all those little steps, you won't reach that goal, so pay them a lot of attention. Give them your energy and your faith. The more focused and committed to each step you are-the sooner you will reach that goal.
Now, you've been mindful in each little step of your climb up the mountain, you've stayed focused on where you were in each moment and not worried about the final outcome. Guess what? You are now at the top of the mountain!
It is truly amazing what a simple shift in focus will do. Take this new knowledge and apply it to your resolutions, or any other changes you want to make. What will you do differently this time? How will you celebrate reaching your goal?
Some people like to think that resolutions always fail. I'll bet that you can prove them wrong this year!
Some points to remember:
1. You can make a resolution or a change at any time during the year. Just after the holidays, most people are tired, and probably not at their peak. Don't have unjust expectations of yourself, we can't perform at our best all the time, so don't rush into changes you aren't ready to make, just because it's the beginning of a new year, wait until you are in a good frame of mind. Remember, you don't fail if you fall down, you only fail if you don't get back up. Falling down and getting back up is part of the process leading to success.
2. Focus on the process. Many people put too much emphasis on the goal and neglect to put that energy into the process. The goal cannot exist without the process. The more focus you have on each step along the way, the better the chances of reaching your goal.
3. Focus on the process. Yes, again. It bears repeating. By staying focused on the steps you ultimately put yourself in control and remove feelings of overwhelm. When you focus only on where you are and what you are doing at that moment, you stay mindful, you empower yourself and you give yourself the power to achieve any goal.