How to Make your New Year’s Resolution your Reality!

new years1Although it is a bit cliche, I definitely appreciate taking some time as we begin this New Year to reflect on the past and envision for the future.  But as cliche as it is to make these New Year resolutions, it is just as common to fizzle out on our intentions after even only a few weeks.  This does not have to be the case however.  In fact positive, permanent change is possible anytime if we can slow down enough to set our intentions, reset our actions and keep focused.  In my first article for the New Year, I am hoping to share with you a few tips and tricks that have helped me in the past and into the present.  New Year’s resolutions are not about losing weight or eating healthier, they are about us continuing to evolve as individuals and improve our Selves in body, mind and spirit.

So how do we go about making these positive changes in our lives and where do we even start?  As I mentioned above, a bit of reflection and contemplation may be needed to begin, as we realize areas we have thrived in and alternatively areas that may need a bit more attention.  In my personal experience the tools that have always helped me to set goals and follow-through with them include: Intention, Attention, Focus, Organization and Clarity.  No matter what your resolutions may involve, these vital (and free) tools will undoubtedly allow you to make the positive changes in your life and stick with them! 

This step-by-step list I will now share with you, will help you to systematically envision the needed changes, focus your intentions and ultimately make your goals a permanent reality!  Before beginning this process, here are a few important thoughts to remember:

  • Avoid doing too much, too soon; if you have many changes to be made, it is best to start with a few and add on over time.
  • If big changes need to be made (i.e. lose 50 pounds), remember that this will take time; avoid setting your goals too high, but instead set mini-goals for each month (i.e. lose 5 pounds each month, for 10 months).  This way you will not be discouraged by unrealistic goals and instead you will be encouraged by meeting and possibly exceeding your realistic intentions.   
  • If you lose focus along the way, it is never too late to come back to your intentions.  Do not let a few bad days or weeks discourage you from continuing forward with your goals.
  • Keep reminders at home, on your phone, at work, in your car and everywhere in between.  If we are constantly being reminded of our goals and intentions, it will help to keep us focused and clear on our path to improvement.

So with keeping these in mind, now I will share with you some ways to make your intentions your reality!

How to Make Permanent, Positive Changes in your Life:

Step #1: Set Time Aside for Contemplation

In order to make a clear decision on what changes need to be made, one must take the time to sit with these thoughts.  Use this time to journal or list out the “goods” and the “not-so-goods” of the previous year.  This will allow you to look at your positive accomplishments as well as the areas that need more attention.  Once we have a good idea of the areas that need our nourishment, we can then move on to our next step of listing our goals and intentions.

Step #2: Create a List of Realistic Goals and Intentions

Once we see the areas that we want to improve on, we can then get more detailed with our intentions.  For example, if I need improvement in both my business life and my personal life, I may need to make a few different lists.  In this example, I would label one list as “Business Intentions” and another as “Personal Goals”.  You can include these or any other categories that are relevant to you. 

Once I have my intentions separated, I can then continue this process by further examining the areas within each category that are in need.  In this process I suggest writing everything that comes to mind, as a rough draft.  Once you sporadically list this in a free flow of thoughts, you can then begin to refine and prioritize these ideas (Step #3).  Here is an example of this initial process.  I am keeping them limited for simplicity sake, however, I encourage to make these lists as long as needed before the refining process.  

Business Intentions:

  • Begin working with a business coach
  • Keep better track of income
  • Keep better track of outgoing expenses
  • Make more overall income
  • Find a better office space
  • Get better at answering emails
  • Etc

Personal Goals:

  • Wake up earlier
  • Go to the gym more
  • Spend less time “playing” on my phone
  • Eat more veggies
  • Eliminate processed sugar from my diet
  • Begin a morning meditation
  • Fight less with my husband over silly stuff
  • Make more time for friends
  • Make more time for family
  • Make more time for ME
  • Etc
Step #3: Refine, Define and Prioritize your Goals

Now that you have a good idea of the areas you are bringing attention to at this time, now we must simplify, specify and create organization in order to hone in on our intentions in a clear manner.  In order to do this, you first may want to cross out any listed intentions that are not needed (if there are any).  After this, you can see if any intentions can be consolidated.  Continuing to use my prior example, I can consolidate a few of my intentions.  For instance, maybe I will place my wake up earlier and include it with my intention to begin a morning meditation.  It will then look like this: “Wake up earlier and meditate each morning”.

After you consolidate any intentions that can be placed together, we must now make sure our intentions are clear.  This will require bringing specific goals to our list of intentions.  This is very important in order to keep focused and keep track of our progress.  Here are some areas that I am choosing to refine and create more specified goals for from the above example:

Business Intentions (refined and detailed):

  • Begin working with a business coach, one session each month starting February 2016
  • Track both income and outgoing expenses by creating an excel spread sheet for each area, do this by January 14th
  • Annual salary income goal= $32,000; Monthly income goal= $2,667
  • Find an office space with more light, better parking and a more central location; switch offices by June 2016
  • Answer ALL emails within 24 hours, set aside specific time each day for this from 8-9am and again from 430-5pm; no emails on weekends!

Personal Goals (refined and detailed):

  • Wake up at 6am each morning and begin the day with a 15 minute meditation
  • Get to the gym 3 times each week for 30-60 minutes
  • Spend a maximum of 20 minutes on my phone each day for personal use; NO phone on Saturdays
  • Eat 3 or more servings of veggies each day
  • Replace all processed sugar with honey or maple syrup
  • Avoid fighting with partner by talking more about issues before they become too big; create space for open communication by checking in with each other weekly
  • Make time for one friend “date” each week
  • Make Saturday a “family day” for movies, games, hiking, etc
  • Make sure to perform a minimum of one Self-care practice each morning (i.e. Yoga) and each evening (i.e. ginger bath, restorative Yoga or oil massage)

So now that I have taken my intentions and set specific goals, I will have a much clearer picture of exactly what needs to be accomplished and by when.  As you can see, adding this clarity will be so beneficial in helping me manifest my intentions by reducing any confusion.  Plus it will help in determining if you are keeping on track or not.  For instance, “making more income” and setting a specific monthly goal to reach are very different intentions.  More income can be even a dollar more than the previous year, but by setting a specific monthly goal I can then begin to track my progress each month. 

Step #4: Choose Several Intentions to Start With

As you can see, I have quite a few goals to work with in my example.  You may have more, you may have less.  If you feel like you have too many to do all at once, it will be beneficial to choose 2-4 from each list and start there for the first month.  These are my choices from my lists:

Business Intentions:

  • Track both income and outgoing expenses by creating an excel spread sheet for each area, do this by January 14th
  • Answer ALL emails within 24 hours, set aside specific time each day for this from 8-9am and again from 430-5pm; no emails on weekends!

Personal Goals:

  • Wake up at 6am each morning and begin the day with a 15 minute meditation
  • Eat 3 or more servings of veggies each day
  • Replace all processed sugar with honey or maple syrup
  • Make time for one friend “date” each week

As you can see, I now have a much shorter list that will be easier and more clear to follow.  Making too many changes at once rarely is a good idea, as it will only lead to confusion and feelings of overwhelm.  However, do not forget about the remaining intentions and goals you have set.  Keep a typed of list of all of your goals and place it on the fridge, on your desk, on your computer (i.e. Evernote) or in your daily organizer.  Make sure it is accessible and not forgotten by the time you are ready to add more intentions to your “short list”.

Step #5: Place Multiple Reminders Around your Work and Home 

In making our intentions our reality, it is vital to keep a daily reminder of what it is that we are working on.  This may be a typed up list that you place on your fridge, at your desk, on your bathroom wall, in your car or all of the above.  If you are more of a visualist, you may want to get artsy and make collages or picture reminders to post all around.  If you are more of the techie type, you may want to place alarm reminders on your phone, on your computer, or download an app that will help accomplish this.  For example, if I want to meditate each morning at 6am, I can set my alarm on my phone that flashes “5:45am, get ready to meditate!”.  Or if I want to set time aside for emails each morning and afternoon, I can set an alarm on the phone or computer to notify me of this as well.  If you are interested in tracking progress in fitness and nutrition, an app such as “My Fitness Pal” or utilizing an activity tracker (i.e. Fitbit) may also be a helpful motivation.  There are countless options, so you will have to find out which ones will be of most use for your needs to keep you motivated long-term.

Step #6: Celebrate your Successes!

No matter what your intentions and goals are, making changes in your life is rarely an easy accomplishment.  Therefore it is so essential to track our progress, no only to keep focused with our intentions, but more importantly to tangibly see the strides we have made.  For example, if I have set my monthly income goal at $2667, this may not be accomplished instantly if my prior income was averaging $2000.  But if I am able to track my income and see I made $2200 in January, $2350 in February and $2500 in March; I can assume I am on the right path to not only meeting my goal, but quite possibly exceeding before the year is over.  This means I should not be sad that my initial try was over $400 shy of my new income goal, rather I should celebrate that I have made $200 more than the previous month and I have continued to step a bit higher each month since.  I should feel accomplished in my progress and may even decide to get a concert ticket I would typically not want to purchase, buy a new outfit, or even take a weekend trip to celebrate.  By celebrating our successes, we are acknowledging our hard work and rewarding our progress. 

**Please note that if you are working on giving up sugar, I do not suggest rewarding this accomplishment by eating a candy bar or an ice cream sundae.  Instead, buy yourself something nice like a bunch of flowers, a new outfit or treat yourself to a healthy meal out.  Rewarding with the exact thing you are trying to avoid is counterproductive and can cause relapsing. 

So there you have it!  Here is an idea of some steps to take when making positive changes in your life, whether for the New Year or ANYTIME!    If you are in need of help during your process, it may be beneficial to get an Ayurvedic Consultation to discover your specific dietary and lifestyle needs if they seem unclear.  

I hope these words find you well in this New Year.  Remember it is never too late for renewal and revolution in your life.  With the proper intention, attention and focus, anything is possible!

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  1. Crystal Rome January 5, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    This is a great post Danielle!! Thank you for taking the time to write so thoughtfully. I love getting to read your blog. Warms my heart and inspires me. Happy new year!

    • Danielle January 6, 2016 at 8:52 am #

      Thanks Crystal! I am so glad you enjoyed:) And thank you for taking the time to read. I hope all is beautiful in Portland… Happy New Year my friend!!

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