It’s a new year

The start of a new year brings opportunities for examination of our personal goals, aspirations, and hopes for the coming year.  It is a time for reflection, consideration, and implementation of actions that can bring us closer to our goals and ambitions in life, love, and work.  Let’s look at some food for thought.

New goals

I’ve heard it said that we can implement a new behavior by practicing an action for 21 consecutive days.  I have tried this in the past, and there is something to it.  The key is that we need to continue the behavior after the first 21 days!  Think about it… What are your goals for this year?  Want to lose weight?  Want to make more money? Want to spend more quality time with your family?

Start by writing down your specific goal, with smaller mini-goals that can be worked on daily or weekly.  Set a starting date for yourself and commit to taking an action (no matter how small) for the next 21 consecutive days.  Letting close friends or family members know of your goals can be helpful in terms of getting support from them. Try to take each day individually, without looking at the next day or week.  Give yourself a pat on the back for making it to the gym weekly, even if your goal was to get there four days a week.  Once a week is a start and eventually, you can increase your gym attendance to multiple days per week.

Maybe your goal is to increase quality time with your family or your spouse.  Examine factors that have impeded increased time with them during the previous year.  Are there changes that you can make or that you can implement?  Commit to making those changes.  What about your communication with your spouse or children?  Have you lost your temper with them lately or used harsh language toward them?  How can you work toward the goal of developing a more patient, loving disposition toward them?

Try to develop an internal compass that will help you gauge your communication by thinking about how this statement or thought will impact the other person.  Ask yourself if you need to walk away, take a brief time out, or use a visual cue of a stop sign to help yourself develop some self-control.  Sometimes, we say what is on our minds without thinking about how the other person may feel or react.  Speaking off the cuff is not always the best way to communicate with others.

New mindfulness

With our fast-paced society and instant access to information at the touch of a button, your goal for the year might be slowing down and becoming more mindful. Rather than being more focused on work and making more money you should concentrate on yourself. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the here and now, the texture of our foods, bodily sensations, cognitive awareness-all without judgment.  Become aware of your breathing, especially during times of stress.  Take a minute or even, five minutes and focus on only your breathing.  Close your eyes, focus on your breath going in and out of your nose.  If thoughts come to mind, be aware of them, but then, let them go and re-focus on your breathing again.

When you practice mindfulness, you don’t become depressed about the past or anxious about the future.  You only live in the here and now, being in the present moment. Mindfulness is a great practice to develop that has more benefits than one may realize.

Consider what your goals for the new year may be.  Even if you have continued with some negative behaviors from the previous year, it is never too late to start making changes.  Whether large or small, self-improvement at any level and in any area of your life is worth the time, effort, and commitment.  Begin by telling yourself that you CAN do it.  Then, like the Nike commercial says, “Just do it”!

I wish you good health, happiness, and peace in the new year.

Linda Cook