Posted by June Atkind LICSW
The New Year’s Eve ball has dropped, 2019 has begun, and we’re returning to “life as usual” after the disruption of routines that occurs during the holiday season. For many, making resolutions for the new year – often related to habits that we would like to change – is a tradition associated with this place in the calendar. Unfortunately, the pull of habits acquired in previous years is strong. A number of people who would like to make changes eschew resolution-making as a set up for certain failure. Perhaps by approaching resolutions differently, rather than abandoning hope, we can benefit from this age-old practice.
The “all-or-nothing” mentality created by the concept of “keeping” or “breaking” resolutions is a set up for failure. If we have to be perfect in keeping our resolution, failure is likely. If we accept that there will be mis-steps, and that each moment is an opportunity to either stray further from the new path we are choosing, or take a step that leads us back towards that new path, the resolution is still guiding us.
Mindfulness, awareness of what we are feeling, thinking, and experiencing in the present, is like a GPS – tracking our progress moment-by-moment, and suggesting a way to get back on track whenever we go astray. Some simple mindfulness-based practices for effective resolutions include:
- Starting the day with a reminder of the change you would like to make
- Visualizing yourself engaging in the desired behavior
- Noticing when you are vulnerable – feeling tired, under the weather, stressed – and give yourself the compassion and self-care that you would offer to a loved one who is in need of some kindness
- Accepting recurrences of undesired behaviors as normal “bumps in the road”, or detours on the road to the desired behavior, rather than failure
- Re-committing to the desired behavior NOW, rather than tomorrow, next Monday, next year….
Best wishes for your 2019 journey towards the person you want to become!