Turning resolutions into lifelong habits
“New year, new me” – a mantra for so many people in the last days of every year, who look with inspiration and excitement to all the possibilities of a new and evolved me. Driven by a desire for change and the perceived opportunity of a new start we make inspired lists of promises and plans of how to improve ourselves and our lives: “I am going to exercise more often.”; “I am going to eat healthier.”; “I am going to shop less and travel more.”
Unfortunately, most of us have a hard time sticking with any of those resolutions past January. Have you already broken yours? Why does that happen every single year? Why do we struggle to keep up with a healthier lifestyle, to make daring career moves, to get a fit body, or have Instagram-worthy travel stories?
The issue is not a lack of a positive desire for change – after all most of us at least mentally make a list with resolutions on New Year’s Eve. The challenge is that we simply don’t set ourselves up for success. We have too many expectations, unrealistic goals, and often a long list of our own shortcomings, which are too overwhelming to tackle in the same year. What is missing is a mindful approach and a practical plan to ensure that you turn your list of resolutions into healthy habits that stick all throughout the year.
If you want to learn how to turn your New Year’s list of goals into a routine that would have a positive impact on your life, brew yourself a cup of Mindful Matcha tea and read on.
Just do less
Today we are all conditioned to “live fast”, to want more, to constantly be “on the go” and engaged in different activities. It is a true measure of success if you can shuffle a busy job with a lively social life and a satisfying time with family. But let’s not fool ourselves, very few people actually manage to do all that and enjoy it. So, instead of filling your calendar with activities and crowding your resolution list with countless goals, take a step back and think about what you really want to do with your time this year. Think about what you can say no to and how you can design a balanced plan so you have some time this year to simply reflect and enjoy your success.
Set monthly goals, not yearly resolutions
Turn a year-long commitment into a short term challenge. Doing something every day for 365 days in a row seems impossible and it certainly is for most people. However, we can more easily imagine committing to do something for just 30 days. So for the month of February choose only one thing to do – every single day. It doesn’t have to be a complex or time-consuming activity - you can decide to get up 10 minutes earlier to meditate and prepare your Mindful Matcha tea you can commit to making your bed every morning; walk 10k steps every day; drink 2 liters of water or read for 15 minutes before going to bed. Whatever it is, make it concrete, simple and measurable. The excitement of completing the 30 days will help keep you inspired and might turn this resolution into a lifelong habit.
One great way to get you started is to create a small ritual of mindfulness and care for yourself in the mornings. We truly believe that a consistent self-care habit in the morning such as brewing a cup of Mindful Matcha tea and enjoying it for ten minutes can help you start your day with a calm head and an energized mind. It will give you the time you need to reflect on your to-dos and plans before you head into the day with no stress and a good mood.
S, stands for specific – this means you should try to set clear and simple goals that are easy to define. Don’t pick general statements like – “I will spend less money.” Narrow it down to – “I will only go out for dinner twice a month”.
M, stands for measurable – if you can track your progress you are more likely to stick with a goal and be excited every time you hit a milestone.
A, stands for achievable – this means making resolutions that are realistic and can actually happen. Setting a goal such as becoming famous is much less likely to come true than something as simple as starting a blog or a YouTube channel.
R, stands for relevant or reasonable – goals that hold true meaning to you and match the rest of your lifestyle and choices. Make sure whatever new resolution you set for yourself it fits to you in that particular moment.
T, stands for time bound. What often motivates us to complete a project is not the satisfaction we will get at the end but rather a deadline we have, be that external or one we set ourselves. Just be sure to set yourself reasonable timeframes, to avoid unnecessary stress and pressure.
Setting SMART goals means that you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want.
Stay mindful and take time to reflect
Don’t just do something for the sake of ticking it off of a list - notice how you're feeling in the moment. If it feels good, soak up that feeling – it will give you the energy to keep going and turn a new activity into a healthy habit. If you are struggling to keep up with your plan, explore what gets in your way. Maybe you are doing too much and it is rather stressful to integrate this new thing into an already busy schedule. If it feels like you have taken too much on, adjust the plan with compassion and mindfulness to yourself. This is often the time when people simply give up instead of modifying their plan to fit better with their lifestyle. Real change can be hard and would require time to get used to and accept a new routine. So if you for example have a hard time getting up an hour earlier in the morning to go to the gym – start with just 15 minutes and some yoga or stretching at home. Build up your tolerance and strength and move closer to your final goal.
Be kind to yourself
No matter what intentions you set for yourself, there will be days and even weeks when you will not live up to your own expectations. Maybe you slip up and have that piece of cake at a company event, or you catch a cold and you miss a week at the gym. Don’t beat yourself up over it, don’t punish yourself with a strict diet or a military workout regimen. Remember that we are all just human and be kind to yourself. Whatever it is, be aware that it does not just put an end to your previous efforts and you can always start over.
After all, that is what it means to be mindful – the realization that you constantly begin anew and that whenever your mind wanders and your goals get out of sight, you have the power to refocus and pursue your resolutions with new energy.
Pictures: © Julia Unkrig