Another year has passed in a blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday you were getting ready for a fresh start, writing down your new year’s resolutions — sticking to a healthy diet, exercising more, saving money, and so on. And where did these plans go? Did you abandon them midway through? It’s said that 92% of people give up their new year’s resolutions altogether. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Give your resolutions a mindful approach in 2021. Understand why the most common goals fail and what you can do to change the script and finally succeed.
New year resolutions are fun to make, but hard to stick to. A study found that 29% of resolvers had abandoned their plans just two weeks into the new year. This figure increased to 36% during the first month and hit 54% six months into the year. Why is it so hard? For starters, resolutions are the act of determining upon an action, a firmness of purpose. Determination and firmness are challenging to achieve in the first place.
Most of us approach our resolutions with either laziness or a militaristic attitude. Perhaps, you promised yourself to start taking action once you “had more time” or found the “the right moment”. Or, it could be that you treated a marathon like a sprint, focusing too much on getting quick results, neglecting all those important steps you needed to take along the journey. In addition, some resolutions are simply not good enough or are not in-line with what you truly need. This inevitably leads to disappointment. To ensure positive results, a change of mindset is needed.
Rethinking the 5 most common new year resolutions
Below you will 5 new year’s resolutions that tend to pop up in our list more often than not. Most of these goals are destined to fail unless you change your approach by tweaking them a bit and adopting a mindful strategy, you will boost your chances of achieving positive and long-lasting change.
1. Lose X kilos by the end of the year
One of the ever-popular new year resolutions and it’s totally understandable — our culture is obsessed with weight loss. We’re constantly targeted by weight loss ads and workout routines promising us “the perfect body”. If this one has popped in your resolutions list every other year, you already know that it’s a tough one. And because it’s so tough, many people opt for extreme measures such as crash diets, expensive gym memberships, and killer workout routines. While this might work at first, many people give up mid-way or end up re-gaining the weight they lost. So, is losing weight impossible? Not in the slightest! But there are a few issues to address.
The first thing to bear in mind is that every single person is different. Some people have slower metabolisms or health conditions that make weight loss a difficult challenge. Get to know yourself better first. And, once you know your limits, ask for professional advice on the best way to achieve a healthy weight.
The second thing to bear in mind is that nothing happens overnight and turning to drastic methods only leads to burnout. Start slowly by making small lifestyle changes. Swap junk food with healthy snacks like nuts or fruit, for example. And, instead of exhausting yourself with HIIT workouts, try to jog for at least 20 minutes every day. Then, add as many minutes as you feel comfortable with.
2. A healthier lifestyle
Improve your health, eat healthily, quit smoking, quick junk food. . . We make ourselves these vague promises that we end up forgetting eventually. The issue lies in the vagueness of these statements. You want to eat healthier, but how exactly are you planning to do that? By adding more greens to your meals? Or by cutting junk food altogether? Ambiguous goals like these don’t hold you accountable in actional terms. Ultimately, this makes it easy for you to deviate from the right track.
Instead of simply resolving to eat healthily or quit smoking, make specific action plans. Start small and then go big. Promise yourself to have just one cup of coffee instead of two every Monday, or go for a run for three or four consecutive days.
3. Spend less, save more
Money is important and that can’t be denied. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), money is the main source of stress for around 64% of people. The past year has put many people in difficult financial situations, leading to poor mental health. As such, wanting to save as much money as possible and keep spending to a minimum is understandable.
While saving money and spending less is never a bad thing, you need the right mindset to make it work. An excellent way to begin is by understanding exactly where your money is going every month. This will help you plan your financial strategy and prioritize which expenses are essential.
4. Settle down
With age comes the pressure to “settle down” — finding a significant other, getting married, and having kids. Sometimes, this pressure is self-imposed, and settling down finds a spot in our new year’s resolution list. This goal might be even harder to achieve than the others as it doesn’t depend on you only. Making resolutions that go beyond your control often end up in disappointment. What you could do is rethink it a bit. Focus on the things you can do to find an ideal partner. Perhaps spending more time socializing with others, or noticing positive qualities in people — their personalities and ideas instead of physical traits.
5. Get a new hobby
Hobbies are an excellent way to keep your brain active and “young” as you age. The prospect of learning a language or trying out a new sport become attractive at the beginning of a new year. But something happens along the way, preventing you from trying out this new and exciting project. It goes back to the vagueness of the resolution. Instead of saying, ”I will learn French”, try out, “I will enroll in French lessons” or “I will engage in a language app 30 minutes per day.” This will help you stay consistent and increase your motivation as you will be able to track your progress.
Real Change starts within the mind
After reading the points above, it’s safe to say that new year’s resolutions should be about more than getting stuff, doing stuff, or arriving at the finish line quickly. They should be about understanding your needs, being true to yourself, and enjoying the journey — the now. This is what mindfulness is, the state of being aware of the present moment, something you can achieve through meditation.
While meditation won’t materialize your wishes immediately, it can help you stay on track with your resolutions. Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, involves focusing the mind on a feeling, a sound, or an image. Then, as thoughts begin flowing, you take notice of them from a neutral stand, without reacting, simply re-directing your attention to your focus object.
In this way, meditators stop focusing on stressful thoughts about the future or past. Their internal, negative dialogue is silenced. This allows them to focus on the present moment and be with themselves without fear. And it is this moment of self-awareness and inner peace that allows them to focus on their goals and build the motivation to fulfill them.
If you are determined to make good New Year’s resolutions and stick to them, meditation can help. Discover soothing melodies and nature sounds to take your meditation practice to the next level.