Starting 2021 with a mindful mind
Sometimes, we put so much pressure on ourselves to start the New Year with great intentions and big goals. This year instead of making New Year resolutions which you may stop doing before the end of January approach this year in a different manner.
The end of 2020 in the beginning of 2021 can be really meaningful to look back on the last year and appreciate both the good times and the challenges. And we have had a lot of challenges this past year and we have many things to be grateful for as well
You might like to record your favourite things you found helpful in guiding or motivating you this past year. Did you read any inspiring books? What helpful podcast did you listen to? Are there people you inspire to live a certain lifestyle? Where there events you attended that where meaningful to you? Think about what you read, listened to or events you attended that really inspired you and you connect with on an emotional or intellectual level. What are these messages and how were they helpful to you? Can you incorporate any lessons you learnt into your day to day life?
Identify the good things that happened to you like adventures and moments that made you laugh and create positive memories with your friends and family. I know we spent a significant amount of time last year social distancing from one another and are there adventures and moments that are meaningful to you? How do you want to continue making these connections with your friends and family?
Reflect on the challenges and the lessons you learned. Sometimes, the things we learn during the difficult times are really important and worth remembering! We can learn from our mistakes or from things that didn’t just work out the way . If we do not learn from our mistakes we can add unnecessary stress on ourselves. Reflecting on things that did not work out for ourselves is not about beating yourself up or calling yourself a failure. Learning from things that did not work out is about learning about yourself and your preferences, and it can guide you into making choices that are better for you and your personality.
If you’re not satisfied with how your 2020 goals turned out, now is the time to reflect. This is a great way to discover what is getting in your way or if you are making goals that do not match your core beliefs.
For example, if I want to get to exercise at early in the morning before work, I know I have to plan my sleep the night before. There is no way I will be up and ready to go if I stay up till midnight the night before. It’s just not possible. I have to be getting to bed with lights out by 10pm in order to get enough sleep and be productive the next day. I know staying up late too many nights in a row does not work for me.
Or if you’re finding yourself short of cash at the end of the week or the month, look back at your spending and saving habits. This is not about depriving yourself but choosing to put yourself and your goals first. It’s all about making conscious choices. too often its too easy to spend money without planning or account for your choices.
And in order to make conscious choices you need to know what your pitfalls are, what you need to change, and where you might need help or support.
You need to look at what works and does not work for you. I’m a morning exercise person. Working out first thing in the morning suits my personality and my lifestyle. My son knows big huge life changes do not work for him. He would soon commit to making smaller incremental changes then try a radically different fitness program.
Why January 1st?
Millions of people every year start January 1st off making New Year’s resolutions. While some people have never made New Year’s resolutions or refuse to make resolutions because they see January 1st as an arbitrary. Many people are motivated by what are natural or artificial times on the calendar to reset or restart. We call this the “fresh start approach”. A fresh start approach is any temporal landmark day such as your birthday, the beginning of the month or week, the beginning of the school year or a new season, and the calendar year. These landmark days help people to look at the big picture, motivate themselves to make changes, and evaluate their lives.
You do not have to wait until the next New Year rolls around to make changes and you do not have to feel trapped into making New Year’s resolutions. This year think about what works for you.
Setting Realistic Goals & Building Habits
A great way to set awesome goals is to create small and realistic goals in a different life areas. Distinguish between achievement goals (buy a new house) versus habit goals (exercise daily). Habit goals are the more powerful goals to set. These are goals that can will take you closer to the achievements. They are also life lasting. Choosing a goals to be more grateful is very different then I am going to be a kinder person this year. Or I want to train for a 5km run vs I want to run 3 times a week.
For example, you could set one small goal for each of the following areas: relationships, career, self-care, physical health, personal growth, hobbies, mental health, finances, and home.
Have very clear goals. A common goal many people have is “I want to be healthy this year”. What does that really mean? For someone it might mean drinking less alcohol. For somebody else being healthy means I need to reduce how much I smoke and my end goal is to not smoke at all. For someone else it might mean getting up for a walk. Going from a general goal of “I want to be healthier” to a more specific habit of “walking 30 minutes everyday” makes it much clearer in your mind of what habit you want to create.
Some people find it more helpful to set monthly or quarterly goals. Some examples are to eat vegetarian for 1 month, don’t buy any meat for a month.
Don’t just be a person who checks off boxes. Set goals for yourself that are based on the person you want to be and works solidly to hit them, instead of focusing on what you think society wants from you. This is your life and you don’t want to spend this year living your life for someone else’s dreams or opinions of how you should be.
If you want to improve yourself, you need to first accept yourself. Your goals should come from a place of acceptance and building yourself into the best version of you, not from trying to change yourself to meet someone else’s version of you.
As you set up goals in different life areas you may discover that you need some support, guidance, or advice to accomplish changes you want to incorporate into your life. There are many ways to get support. You could get a gym trainer, find a mentor at work, or find someone who is trained to support you in the area that you need help.
Are your everyday activities helping you to accomplish your short-term goals? This is where a coach or a mentor or someone who specializes in that area can be super helpful to you.
It is important to ensure that your daily activities help you to accomplish short-term goals, and that short-term goals lead to accomplishment of broader, larger goals and objectives
Reach out for support. For example if you want to change your spending and saving dynamics this year maybe you need help from a money coach or a financial planner to get you on track to save or how where’s the best to put those dollars to earn interest. Ask for recommendations from friends or social media but make sure you do your own homework to ensure this person really is qualified to provide you with sound and professional advice.
No one is an expert in every field or area in life so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Write down and Track your goals
Writing out your goals help you remember them. You want clear goals you can track and measure your outcomes. Place your written goals somewhere where you can see them daily.
Some people create a vision board. Vision boards identify your vision and using images or words. Creating a vision board gives you good visual reinforcement and reminds you of where you want to go. So even if you don’t achieve your goal every day, your vision board keeps your mind focused on your goal, your attention on your intentions, and your life headed in the direction you choose.
There are so many ways to track your success. You can use an apps. Or you can go low tech and check off your goals on the list. If you’re looking at tracking your exercise use ￼￼colouring pages that you colour as you move towards your goals. I also use a habit tracker document to track my goals.
It’s important to think about your small wins. Analyze your progress regularly and see how far you’ve come. And do celebrate your steps and wins towards your goals.
Find time every week to look back and see how you are moving towards your goals. Don’t wait till December 2021 to realize you haven’t realized a huge portion of your dreams.
This year choose to be kind and compassionate towards yourself. There is no need to completely reinvent yourself. Trying to make huge overwhelming changes that may deprive you are not helpful or healthy. Choose new habits or choices which are self compassionate and kind. Self compassionate chooses are more motivational then changes that are too drastic towards yourself. Make changes that will work for yourself.
We’re here to listen.