Let’s face it, far more resolutions fail than succeed. Psychologist and mindfulness expert, Aisling Curtin , has tips on how to set realistic and achievable goals
1. Connect to why you want to make this resolution
If it’s just because you think you ‘should’, ‘have to’, or ‘must’, then these are not enough.
Put it to the test — imagine yourself doing something that you enjoy and now imagine that you have to do it.
Notice what happens in your body, and if you feel more or less inclined to do this same thing — something you previously enjoyed.
2. Acknowledge that it’s human to make mistakes
The majority of people who make resolutions will go off course. It is human to do so.
The key thing is how we relate to ourselves after we make these mistakes.
Do we berate ourselves? Do we use this lapse as a means of falling off the wagon?
Acknowledge that this happens to everyone, learn from the lapse, and get back on track.
3. Hold yourself accountable
If your resolution matters to you, tell it to someone you know and trust, who will keep your best interests at heart.
Be clear to the person what you want in terms of support.
We all need different levels of support — some people like an occasional text message; some would appreciate a regular, quick call.
Be clear what it is that you want from your ally and what you would like them to do, if and when you go off track.
4. Make a recording of why this is important to you
At this point, it is clear that you will go off track. We all will.
If this is something that is truly important to you, make a voice recording, of no more than three to five minutes in duration, explaining why this resolution is important to you.
The more you can feel this, the more likely you are to come back on track.
It is even better if you can foresee the obstacles that might get in your way and coach yourself through these.
Share this recording with your ally.
5. Take one to three minutes daily to reconnect to why this matters
Unfortunately, it is not enough to only once connect to why it’s important to make this resolution.
You need to often reconnect with why it’s important.
It is better to spend one to three minutes daily connecting to why this is important than to spend a day once a month.
Some people connect through a mindful meditation, some through a journal, and some through creativity.
How you reconnect is not as important as taking the time to make this a priority in your life.
6. Acknowledge that unwanted emotions will arise
If it was a piece of cake to make this change, chances are you would have made the change already.
It is tough to make changes, especially to well-established routines.
You will have all kinds of unwanted emotions and feelings.
It is important to remember that this is par for the course for everyone.
You do not need to like, love or want how you are feeling.
You simply require a willingness to have these feelings, if they are bringing you closer towards your resolution.
7. Acknowledge toward/away moves, rather than right/good and wrong/bad
It is all too common to label ourselves as ‘good/doing it right’ when we are acting in ways that represent how we want to be in the world.
Conversely, we label ourselves as ‘bad/doing it wrong’ when we are acting in ways that we are not proud of.
Instead, see if you can identify what it is that you want to move toward — for example, a healthier lifestyle — and then, whenever you engage in any action, no matter how small, toward that, you can acknowledge that as a ‘toward’ move.
Similarly, whenever you engage in any action that brings you further away from your goal, you can acknowledge this as an ‘away’ move, rather than a bad move, and rather than labelling yourself as having done it wrong.
This is a much healthier way of looking at things.
8. Check in with your older, wiser, more compassionate self
Before embarking on any meaningful change, it is useful to connect with your, older wiser self.
Have you ever looked back at your life, as it was 5 or 10 years ago, and very clearly seen what it is that you could have done differently?
Retrospective thinking really is 20:20 vision.
You can imagine connecting to your older, wiser, more compassionate self for some guidance — from their experienced perspective — and asking ‘what might they recommend that you do differently’?
The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) and Aisling Curtin will host a free workshop, entitled ‘Mindful New Year’s Resolutions Worth Keeping’.
The workshop will take place tomorrow, January 8, from 6pm – 7.30pm, at the PSI headquarters, Grantham House, Grantham Street, Dublin 2.
Pre-booking is essential, as there are 60 places.
To book, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01-4433307.
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