As the New Year fast approaches, many people contemplate those things they would like to change. The instinct to commit to growth and self-improvement is an important one. Here are some key tips from the yoga tradition to take into consideration as you look at what you would like to focus on in the New Year:
1. Get to the Heart of It: Instead of stopping at surface goals, try to get to the core of what you are aiming for. For example, instead of saying "I want to lose weight," ask yourself why. Answers such as "I want to feel good about myself" or "I want to be healthy" will start to surface. Keep asking the why question several times until you get to the bottom of what it is you truly desire. These answers will give you root resolutions that can really affect and inspire change.
2. Cover Multiple Areas of Life: The yoga tradition suggests that we look at four key areas when forming goals: 1. health (kama), 2. prosperity (artha), 3. relationships/meaningful service (dharma), and 4. spiritual/mental growth and freedom (moksha). Let these four areas of life guide you when thinking about what you might want to focus on in the New Year.
3. State Your Goals in the Present Tense: Once you have several goals (don't overwhelm yourself with too many), remove the "I want" or "I will" from any statements. Instead, state them in the present tense. "I want to feel good about myself" becomes "I feel good about who I am"; "I will exercise more" becomes "I exercise on a consistent basis."
4. Make Them Fun!: Now that your goals are in the present tense, add some additional energy and emotion to them so you smile and feel some excitement every time you say them. "I eat healthfully" could become "I eat foods that nourish my body and make me feel vibrantly alive!"; "I exercise three times a week" could become "I exercise consistently to look and feel fabulous!"
5. Repeat them Daily: Find a time each day when you can read and review your goals. Instead of just speeding through them, try to feel what the statement is saying, and imagine what it would feel like to have already reached your goal. Imagination is a powerful tool, and positive feelings motivate!
6. Celebrate Forward Steps: It's easy to place too much focus on when we miss our target. Doing so can be deflating and can have us throwing our hands up in surrender before we barely begin. Turn this around by celebrating even small moments of moving forward toward your goals. Create a positive system of rewards to celebrate what you are doing right!
7. Start Again and Again: If you do find yourself off target, just simply start again. Use the beginning of every month (or week) to evaluate, adjust, and get going again. If you find yourself consistently missing the mark, you may need to set smaller or fewer goals or work in smaller time frames. Having a monthly (or weekly) check-in time for yourself can go a long way in working toward your goals.
8. Find a Support System: Goals are much easier to work on when we have someone who can support us along the way. Find a cheerleader or someone who will help keep you accountable as you work toward what you want.
Every person is different and approaches goals in different ways. The key is to begin and take at least one step toward living the life you want! Go for it!
Happy New Year!