“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
It’s that time of year again. We started with our New Year’s resolutions to balance our lives out just a short while ago. Some of us wanted to lose weight, while others wanted to make more money. Now we are getting to a critical point, where we may feel like giving up.
As a yoga instructor, I felt the sting of the holidays when my classes dropped to low numbers due to parties and traveling, but now I’m flooded with packed classes every night and bombarded with the question, “How can you help me keep my New Year’s Resolutions?” The frequency of this query inspired me to create a plan to help my clients with their own unique goals. And now I offer it to you. You simply need to change your perspective when approaching New Year’s resolutions. Instead of making a vague list of what you want to change, ask yourself these simple questions:
Start by specifically defining what it is you plan to accomplish this year. Be concise, keep it simple. For example, if you start with a goal like, “I plan to be healthier this year,” you may want to redefine that as, “I plan to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as cut out sodas and other added sugars.” If your resolution is to, “Lose weight this year,” you might guide yourself toward, “I plan on losing 15 pounds this year.”
Ask yourself, “Why would I like to accomplish this goal?” Often times, physical changes to our lives have an internal representation that we aren’t even aware we are striving for. This is the reason why some people vow to lose 15 pounds but once they do, they still feel defeated and depressed. If you really investigate why you want to accomplish this goal, you will find a bit more about what you really wish to accomplish.
Have a well-thought-out plan before you embark on this adventure this year. It’s important to realize that if you knew all there was to know about this particular life change, you would have already accomplished it. Come to this resolution like a student that needs to learn how.
1. Research: Make sure you find out the info on what you’re about to take on. If the resolution is to eat healthier, what is it you plan to eat? If you’re educated about the foods you should — and shouldn’t — be eating, you’ll be empowered even further. If your resolution is to lose weight than your job is to learn actual ways to go about doing that. What type of exercise works best for you? What do you plan on cutting out and putting in your life in order to accomplish this goal?
2. Tell everyone you know: Research suggests that people who are accountable are more likely to succeed in achieving resolution goals. Accountability is exactly why groups like AA and Weight Watchers are credible and effective. When you know that you’re going to hear it from 100 people when you start swearing like a sailor or if you fail to run 25 miles a week you promised, you are less likely to bail out on your resolutions.
3. Set up a reward system: Periodically use rewards for reaching small goals. Shed a couple pounds this week? Treat yourself to a movie or buy a new pair of pants that fit that ever shrinking body.
Accomplishing goals we set produces dopamine, the pleasure chemical in our brain. This chemical activates parts of the brain that makes you eager to pursue new challenges. By setting and achieving goals today you are heightening your ability to be a better person the rest of your life. Here’s to a fantastic new year. 2013 here we come!
Sarah Stevenson, a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes but also life affirming workshops. She also writes for Beachbody, which provides effective and popular workout videos, including the Insanity Workout, a high intensity cardio workout for total body conditioning.