Happy new year, take 2

So one week in, and how are you fairing? Are those new years resolutions rockin and rollin or would you like to hit re-start already? Committing to new habits is never easy, and it takes a whole lotta stamina, commitment and discipline to stick to them. If you are like  me, I kinda crawled over the line of 2014. I hauled my arse to the finish and fell in a pre-Chirstmas heap. So why would I think that I would go from tired/depleted/over-it to bright and shiny and new in the blink of an eye?

Wishful thinking I believe they call it. A sense that a simple change in the calendar will bring about fresh and bright and new. Granted we have had a full moon in there somewhere, and there is a lot to be said about the mental element of closing one chapter and starting a new, but to expect that on January 1 we will miraculously bounce out of bed, meditate for 30 minutes, go for a 5km run all before breakfast 5 days a week is perhaps not so realistic. So after a week of hitting snooze, making excuses and one lame attempt to run, we throw our hands up in the air and declare we may as well enjoy the summer and start another day. We end up with the feeling of disappointment and dejection at failing, yet again, instead of starting off the new year the way we wished it would be.

So what can we do to start different habits, to let go of the old and bring in the new. To release the things that no longer serve us and to fill up on the things we know are good for us. Starting new habits is never easy. Lets face it, if it was, we would be doing it all the time. The key to any new pattern we are trying to establish is to be realistic – you’ve heard it before, the old SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) – but yet we can still get caught up in the ideal of the habit rather than to honestly assess where we are now. I will give you an example –  I had planned to get up 6am each work day to meditate and do some asana – something I have done for years, so not such a huge stretch to be honest. What I had failed to do in my planning, is to acknowledge that the first week of the new year we were inundated with house guests. Not so conducive for my 6am early morning sessions. You could argue I should commit and act anyway, but in reality, I know I don’t practice comfortably when I feel I might be interrupted by a house guest stumbling to find the loo. I had failed to assess where I am at right now and what is going on in my environment that will support, or hinder my goals.

So I shift the goal a bit, I give myself some slack, and try not to beat myself up, and most importantly, I commit to starting Monday. So lets see how that goes. I had also read something interesting recently about why we don’t commit to our new year’s resolutions. Say for example you decide you want to lose weight, so you start on a diet, watching what you eat, then Tuesday night you find yourself searching in the back of the fridge for the left over chocolates from your Christmas stocking you know you have somewhere. And right there, you have broken your new “habit”. The reason we don’t commit, or we fail at following through on our declarations for the new year, is the goals or habits we set, we don’t value. Or actually we value them, but we value the feeling that the chocolate gives us even more than the goal of losing weight. It makes sense right? Unless you have super hero powers of will power and resistance, most of us mere mortals have failed at following through at some point. So what can we do to break the cycle and actually achieve some of our goals?

There are many things you can do to set the right goals in the first place, to being accepting of the falls and fails along the way, but ultimately, connecting into the feeling you want to get by achieving your goal is perhaps the most important. Say you want to lose weight, think about how that will feel when you are at your goal weight, maybe it is confidence, perhaps it is sexy, maybe powerful. Ask yourself, what is it that I want (from this goal, think feeling states)…..then pause, and ask yourself, what is that I really want? This may seem a bit odd, you’ just answered that right? But under the first feeling we want, there is something behind that, the truth or core of the feeling. So if you are stuck, as yourself, what will that then give me? You may have to do this a few times until you get to a word that you just know is right. So in the example of losing weight, you might say I want to feel confident….what will that give me? It will give me a sense of ease. And what will that give me? I will have a feeling of grace. Bam. There’s your word. Then you visualise what it will be like when you have that feeling of grace, picture it, all the lovely beautiful details. It is a great meditation to do. By connecting to that feeling so you can start to value it. Valuing grace is much easier than valuing a diet right? Do this every day, connecting to the feeling of grace, then this becomes your habit rather than the diet. The diet is a part of the process, but ultimately cultivating a feeling of grace is so much more than a bunch of carrot sticks.  Then next time you reach for the chocolate at the back of the fridge, connect to the feeling of grace, if you still chose to take the chocolate, at least you will be doing it gracefully. 🙂

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