I’m a strong advocate for New Year’s resolutions. New year, new me. Or, at least..a better version of the old me.
But I’ve found that whenever I establish goals for myself, I naturally perceive them as a mission or a tangible ambition that eventually I can / will / should reach. This perception is motivating, but it’s also slightly terrifying. What if I can’t reach that goal? What if something stands in my way? Then motivation transforms in to self-doubt and I begin to resent the process of pursuing my goal before I’ve even started. Can you relate?
I think it’s the glorified “end-game” that impedes our journey towards fulfilling our aspirations. We place so much emphasis on losing “x pounds”, making “y dollars”, etc etc. and often times, that definitive goal is arbitrary and unsustainable. Maybe you lose 5 pounds and you feel sexy as hell. Do you continue on with an additional 5 pounds because “your goal was to lose 10″?. What if you already made your income goal before the end of the month? Do you become complacent and allow that to be sufficient because “that was your goal, so it’s enough”.
My point here is that we’re constantly evolving. Our mind-frame can change from week to week, day to day, hour to hour. Some days we feel too fat. Other days we feel too thin. Some days we want to make money and buy nice things. Other days we want to surrender it all and hop on a plane for a 30 day retreat in Thailand (k, maybe that’s just me). Regardless, I think expecting goals that we establish at the beginning of the year to be relevant to our lives for the remaining 12 months is slightly unrealistic and potentially overwhelming.
Rather than setting our sights on ambitions that may only be sustainable for several months at most, I think a more productive perception of approaching the New Year is to dedicate yourself towards a more broad goal that, if consciously pursued, really has the potential to change your life: Self-Improvement. Or, more specifically… being present and willing to reflect on what areas of your life need improvement at any given time.
Some common examples of areas that may need work:
- Your attitudes towards yourself.
- Your attitudes towards others.
- Your relationships
- Your work ethic / skill sets.
- Your sense of purpose
Sometimes, though, we don’t recognize that we’re struggling with a certain area of our life unless we make the effort to reflect on those various facets within ourselves. But how do we do this?
For me, it’s meditation. 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes before bed. It’s all the time you need, and it’s time that each of us has. You don’t need a sacred meditation pillow or essential oils to mist as you “om” and rub Buddha’s belly. All you need truly need for impactful meditation is a silent mind and an open heart.
Integrating meditation in to your day:
I choose the morning and evening to meditate because, for me, that’s when my mind is in the most optimal place for accepting change. Rather than laying in your bed thinking about how much you don’t want to wake up, or going through a laundry-list of things you should have done and still need to do tomorrow before you fall asleep, use this time and redirect your mental energies towards inward reflection.
During my morning meditation, I set an intention for myself that I can implement throughout my day. Often these intentions are either based on different tasks that I know I’ll need to get done that day, or a certain negative belief that I may be harboring from the previous day.
Some examples of intentions that you can set for yourself:
If you’re feeling anxious about something: Today I am willing to let go of my anxiety. I will surrender control to the universe and allow that my life to happen exactly as it’s supposed to.
If you feel a strain in your relationship with someone: Today I am willing to see love in everyone, and will recognize that we’re all on the same mission of discovering happiness and fulfillment. ( << I say this to myself a lot. It generates a really beautiful feeling of oneness with everyone you encounter and helps to become more compassionate for anyone who you may be holding resentment towards).
If you have a busy day ahead of you: I am willing to approach this day with enthusiasm and excitement for everything that I have to do. I trust that everything will get done exactly when and how it’s supposed to.
p.s. if you want help creating some intentions for yourself, feel free to e-mail me. I’d love to help! I’ve been daily intentions for a long time and it’s really helped to transform how I perceive the world.
The importance of expressing gratitude
As far as your 10 minute evening meditation, I use this as an opportunity to reflect on and express gratitude for all of the blessings of the day. On those “Monday morning, missed the train, spilled my coffee” kind of days, it’s more difficult to find something to be thankful for – but it’s these days that it’s most important for you to find something worth being thankful for. Some days acknowledging the things we take for granted – electricity, food, shelter – really help to reinforce how blessed we truly are.
If you want, you can keep a daily gratitude journal. I did this for awhile but then I started to feel like it become a homework assignment of trying to generate 5 things to be thankful for rather than an authentic expression of gratitude. Now, as soon as my head hits my pillow, I take a few seconds and say to myself: “Thank you, universe, for _____________________” I don’t set a numeric goal of how many things that I want to list, but I’ve found that typically once I start – other subtle blessings find their way in to my mind too.
So how does all of this lead to self-improvement?
Because when you’re so tuned in to your mental energies and attitudes, it’s impossible to become stagnate. When you’re proactive in identifying and working towards remedying a negative belief before it has the chance to manifest itself in your behavior, you’re already making yourself better by not allowing yourself to be worse. Over time these mini bites of daily intention and gratitude magnify and evoke radical shifts in your perception of everything. They make you more emotionally resilient, motivated, accepting, and appreciative. In turn, you’ll find that with your new perspective, all of your tangible goals seem to effortlessly fall in to place.
I challenge you all to reflect today and try to identify different areas of your life that you feel as though you can improve upon. Please feel free to share them here. I’d love to support you on your journey towards self-improvement in any way that I can!