As cliche as it may seem, a new year is a great opportunity to reboot, refocus, and reprioritize our lives. Most of us already have an idea of how we want to live our lives, and every year we resolve to make THIS the year that we achieve that ideal; unfortunately, few of us are still in step with that goal by January 5, and so we throw it out the window and resolve to try again next year.
Here are 14 things you can do to ensure that you stay on track moving into 2014:
1. Get Clear. How can you get where you want if you don’t know where you are going? Allow yourself to really slow down and envision the life you want for yourself in this coming year. Paint yourself a picture of the life you want to be living, and specifically focusing on how you want to be feeling in your life. From that vision, you can identify the areas in your life that need attention and possibly correction.
2. Remain Open to New Possibilities. Once you’ve gotten clear about the path you want to take, now comes the difficult part: not allowing yourself to become tunnel-visioned. Often times we get so fixated on one particular idea of how we think things should look, that we miss out on new ideas or opportunities. Set out clearly on the path that leads you to the life you want to be living, but remain open to the idea that there could be more possibilities available to you than your imagination can come up with.
3. Get Willing to Change. Really though, you need to get willing to do whatever you need to do to make the change happen.Let’s face it: change is hard. Long lasting change asks us to be disciplined, consistent, and persistent, so you really need to want that change and be willing to go to any length to get it, i.e. sitting on your hands until the craving for Oreo’s passes.
4. Use the Buddy System. When you make a commitment to yourself and another person, you are more likely to stick with it. Find a like-minded person, or better yet, a group of people, to surround yourself with. You can encourage one another and hold each other accountable as you set forth on your new path.
5. Recommit Yourself to Your Goal, EVERYDAY. Very few of us can rely on what we did yesterday to get us through today. Additionally, it can be overwhelming and intimidating to think about having to do something for an entire year. However, goals become much more manageable and attainable when we’re only looking at the next 24 hours ahead of us. Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.” Get clear with your goal and ask yourself, “what do I need to do today, to be in alignment with this goal?”
6. Create a Morning Routine. The best way to recommit yourself to your goals is to create a morning routine that asks you to get clear about your day ahead. This doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Even just a few minutes, first thing when you wake up, before your feet hit the floor, remind yourself of the goals you’ve identified and set your intention for the day. If you have a bit more time, and willingness, create a more formal practice and use the time for meditation, inspirational readings, and journaling.
7. Become Aware of How You Talk to Yourself. Most of us are our own worst critics and very few us actually grow in toxic environments. Your thoughts can be vital nutrients to emotional health and overall success, or they can be poisonous toxins. If you want to be successful in creating a fulfilling life, you need to have a positive outlook toward life. Life will test you, again and again. If you give in to internal negativity, it is highly unlikely that you will reach the goals you have set for yourself.
8. Acknowledge the Baby Steps. Most of us want change and we want it yesterday. Change doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like and so we give up. However, if you want to ensure success in achieving your goals you need to regularly track your progress. Invite yourself to create a daily practice in which you acknowledge the ways you’ve changed since starting your journey, and recognize the steps you took today that are helping you get to where you want to go.
9. Just Do It. How much time have you wasted in your life waiting for the mood to strike you or until you felt readyto do something? We often think we need more knowledge, or motivation, or for the insecurities to leave us before we can move forward but this type of thinking just stifles our personal growth. We can’t think our way into good action, we have to act our way into good thinking. If you want to create positive changes in your life, you need to take action and embrace moments of opportunity, even though you probably won’t ever feel 100% ready for them.
10. Embrace Meditation. When we strengthen our inner awareness, amazing things happen to our external experiences. Meditation isn’t just for new age hippies anymore. Science has begun to show us what he wisdom traditions have been teaching for years: meditation can significantly improve the quality of our life on all levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
11. Focus on What is Important. We often confuse urgency for importance and very rarely are the things that we think are so urgent, really all that important. Slow down and prioritize what is really important to you, rather than focusing on all the busy stuff that you have to do. Put first things first. And go from there.
12. Move Your Body. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours a day torturing yourself at the gym. Please don’t do that. But recognize that our bodies are not meant to sit for hours at a time in front of a computer or TV screen. Additionally, our physical health can directly impact our emotional and mental health; we have to care for ourselves on all levels. Find something you enjoy and allow yourself to fall in love with that, even if it’s just strolling through a park, or playing fetch with your dog. Do something besides sitting.
13. Find Gratitude. We head down the path that our attention is focused on, and unfortunately, as human beings, we seem to have a knack for focusing on everything that’s going wrong and all that we don’t have. When we accept and appreciate things now, we’re able to live happier lives and see more success and accomplishments. Take time out of your day to intentionally focus on all that is going right and be thankful for all the troubles you don’t have.
14. Have fun. Your life is not meant to simply be endured, or as Jack London said, “The proper function of man is to live, not simply exist.” There is absolute joy and happiness to be had in even the simplest of moments. Sometimes we need to take a step back because we have allowed our lives to become so filled with work obligations, worry, and past hurts and fears that there is no room left to simply have fun. Allow yourself to simply enjoy the little things in life, because one day we may look back and realize that those were the big things!