Have you ever wondered why New Year resolutions don’t seem to stick? Here’s an invitation to scrap the traditional resolution setting and do it a different way, one that involves mindfulness, creativity and wellbeing.
The dawning of a new year presents a precious moment to pause, reassess where you are in your life and prepare yourself for the 12 months to come.
Imagine your goals are like a cake. When you begin baking, it’s helpful to know what you’d like to make – that way, you can ensure you have the right ingredients, tools, time and even an idea of who might get to have a slice of the finished product. Here’s Teen Breathe’s recipe for a creative approach to New Year resolution setting.
1 Breathe. Pause before you begin.
Take a moment to reflect on the year just past. What were the key events, moments or experiences? What would you like to let go of or take forward?
A moment of mindfulness can help. Sit somewhere quiet, safe and comfortable and gently close your eyes. Take three long, slow, deep breaths and let go of any tension in your body with every out breath. Settle into the moment – mind and body.
Reflect on the year gone by. In your mind follow your journey over the past 12 months (it might seem like watching a movie) until you reach the present moment. Try not to pass judgement or be critical of any actions or decisions you or those around you made. After this quiet reflection, open your eyes and take another few deep, energising breaths.
2 Think. List your resolutions.
How many goals you set is entirely up to you, but try to find a balance between testing yourself and aiming for the impossible. Too many changes all at once will be difficult to sustain and make it harder to keep your resolutions.
3 Plan. What tools do you need?
Reflect for a moment on the tools you need to achieve your goals. Could it be a second alarm clock placed out of arm’s reach; setting aside time to research healthy recipes; or planning easy workouts you could do in your living room or garden with friends?
4 Act. Which activities will form part of your plan?
Whether or not resolutions become fixed largely depends on your daily actions. If, for instance, you set a goal to introduce more physical activity into your life, the daily action might be to take the stairs rather than the lift or to do 10 minutes of aerobic exercise or yoga when you wake up in the morning (perhaps set the alarm call on your new, strategically placed alarm clock a little earlier).
5 Time. Be realistic – there’s no rush.
For resolutions to come fully to life it takes time. Researchers at University College London estimate that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, so allow yourself at least two months of regular patient practice before evaluating any changes.
6 Trigger. What reminders could you set to make sure that goals become second nature?
These could be as simple as sticking a note of key words on your mirror; setting alerts on your phone so that each morning when you wake up you’re reminded of your goals; or jotting down an inspiring quote in a journal by your bedside. It will be there whenever you write down the day’s events and chart your progress, triumphs – big and small – and encounters that proved challenging.
7 Share. Ask how your mission will help others.
What is the fun in making positive resolutions if you can’t share them with others? Think about how your goals or resolutions could have a positive impact on your family, friends and, yes, even teachers. Let’s imagine one of your resolutions is to improve your time-keeping and stop being late for school. There are at least two positive results that could stem from this: you won’t get into trouble with your tutor as soon as you enter class and you’ll avoid the all-too-familiar awkward (and endlessly dull) nagging sessions with parents before 8am.
8 Learn. Mindfulness is a helpful tool.
Introducing an element of mindfulness into your daily life can help you be more aware of your progress as you work towards your goals. When you can, take a moment to sit and be quiet and try to be aware of the sights, sounds and smells around you without judging or questioning them. Afterwards, think about your goals. Give yourself a pat on the back for those that are going well and let go of any mishaps when things haven’t quite gone to plan.
9 Celebrate. No explanation required!
When you realise that a resolution has become a regular habit – perhaps getting to college on time is now second nature and no longer a big deal – reward yourself with a nice treat. But remember that part of the celebration is to enjoy and savour the experiences and journey that got you there, the positive and the not-so-great times. You might not reach all your goals, but your experience in striving for them will enrich you as a person. Good luck for everything you do and every achievement you reach – no matter how small it may seem – in 2019.