As 2022 approaches, perhaps your mind has been on certain lifestyle changes you plan to make or some goals you intend to achieve over the next year. It’s important to be able to see where you want to go or who you want to be, and to project yourself toward that evolution. Yet, it’s common to make a resolution, experience some initial excitement, and eventually revert to old habits. So let’s explore some common hurdles and strategies for success.
First, there’s the challenge of structure. Without a plan, most resolutions are doomed to fail. If you use our Dreambook, we lay out the steps clearly there. For those who don’t have it, I’ll share some key principles.
Before launching the plan, a goal should be dissected into all of the simplest, actionable tasks involved. These will go into your calendar with a specific date and time (and an end time). When it’s time to do one of these tasks, there should be no need to figure out what it entails. Then treat it like you would a meeting with a respected client or a medical appointment that has a no-show fee – i.e., non-negotiable.
Even if your resolution is a lifestyle change that’s the goal in itself – such as eating healthier, meditating daily, or exercising – it’s still useful to have a plan so that you know exactly how you’ll make it a reality. For instance, resolving “I’m going to meditate every day in 2022” is great. But as soon as the first busy day of the year comes, if you haven’t already determined when, where, and how that meditation will occur, before you know it you’ll realize you missed a day (or a month). Get the details worked out beforehand.
Second, it’s easy to make a resolution without putting much intention – i.e., personal power – behind it, and the result is usually disappointing. It’s beneficial, if you really want the resolution to take, to create some sort of ritual around launching it. (This, too, we cover in greater detail in the Dreambook.) I know it just seems like an extra step, but you won’t regret it.
Here are some ideas. First, write down the resolution as clearly as possible, in strong, positive language. Do something special (candles, music, dance, unique clothing, deep breathing, being in nature, etc.) to get yourself into a non-ordinary state. Focus your energy. Read the words you’ve chosen – out loud – so you can hear yourself stating what you are going to do. Visualize the resolution happening in your life, feeling how it will feel. You could even imagine looking back a year from now and feeling proud of yourself for having followed through and delighted by the results of your commitment. Consider all the ways in which this resolution will support your highest good and the highest good of others in your life. Choose to honor the power of your word.
Third, add ritual to the tasks or practices themselves. The more special you make it, the more likely you are to feel satisfied by it, which helps to heighten the benefit and reinforce its permanency. Make it easy to do it by having all the necessary resources at the ready. Make it something you look forward to by adding elements of sweetness to it (we go deeply into this concept in our audiobook The Well Life). Turning it into a ritual adds depth to it, so it’s not just a mechanical task but a meaningful anchor point.
Fourth, keep choosing the right attitude. Your aspirations deserve an appropriate measure of reverence. As much as we may try, it’s not really possible to fool ourselves when it comes to the spirit of our participation.
You’ve already chosen what you’re going to do. You can either follow through on your choice or not. If you don’t, you’ll notice you didn’t honor an agreement with yourself and this may hurt your self-trust. If you do follow through, you can do it enthusiastically – like you love yourself, like you want this, like your life is a gift – or you can do it grudgingly, like attending a party when you wish you were home watching Netflix. This, too, you’ll notice. It’s an unspoken communication from you to you. Remember to re-read your original intention on a regular basis – with feeling. It’s significant.
I hope these suggestions help you make positive changes that improve your life and the lives around you.