As January wraps up and February begins, it is time to check in on those New Year's resolutions. It is reasonable to think that if we have not begun working towards the goals that we set by now it is likely there will not be any follow through the rest of the year. I am here to offer a different mindset and propose a perspective shift.
Think back to a few weeks ago when those goals were initially established. At this time your mind was full with thoughts of accomplishing something, feelings of possibility, hopes of change. What I have seen happen with my clients is that they may set their goals a little too aggressively in the beginning of the year. It is good to set aggressive goals, but it is important to think about what needs to happen before you can get off the ground.
The key to successful change is to set realistic goals and expectations. I did this myself recently when I aimed to begin a meditation practice with the goal of meditating daily.
In starting with an unrealistic goal and overzealous expectations I got easily discouraged and started to procrastinate. Maybe I would meditate twice in a week and then get down on myself for not being more consistent. So, like any good New Year's resolution, I kicked it to the curb. Sound familiar?
I am happy to tell you that here is hope yet for my meditation practice and there is hope for you to revive your goals as well!
I decided that rather than being so rigid and setting myself up for failure that I would take a more progressive approach. As a newbie meditator, I soon realized this was unrealistic and it did not allow me to ease into a practice that I hoped would be long term. For me, my meditation practice is designed to be a marathon not a sprint.
Gradually beginning a change is much easier and will lend itself to longer lasting results. Think lifestyle change versus the quick cleanse, fad trend, crash diet mentality. Those things do not work for a reason. They often yield quick but unsustainable results.
If you are in it for the long haul, it is smart to start slow and plan for roadblocks. This means recognizing and acknowledging your own imperfection which can be challenging. We are likely making these goals for a larger purpose, right? Something is not working in our lives, unfulfilling or broken. Big goals aim at change. Change, in its very nature, does not come easily.
Knowing this will help you to maintain the change and work towards your goals in a way that allows for real-life, human error. I fully recognize that meditating when I am stressed is arguably when I need it the most, but if I am not in the habit of engaging in that behavior it is hard to expect my mind to naturally do that.
We can learn from our roadblocks in ways that are more productive than giving up. Taking on the eye of the curious observer can help turn a frustrating "why did you do that again?!" into "hmm, why does this keep happening? what can I do to make it better?"
Keep in mind, while the goal is your end-game, the journey is what is most important. The journey is what sets up the foundation for the changes to become more permanent and, therefore, more meaningful.
Go on and take your goal out of the gutter and breathe some new life into it! Reassess the realities of what you are setting out to accomplish and be gentle with yourself along the way. Life should be about the journey!