Before Tai Chi and its philosophy of finding balance in everything you do entered my life and took me from the path of self-destruction to the one of inner peace, I would always set ridiculously difficult goals for me to reach. The more extreme the challenge, the more exciting, because the more chances to fail, of course. As an addict to extreme sensations, I used to enjoy the risk of falling hard.
So when the time to make New Year’s resolutions arrived, I’d welcome this new opportunity to challenge myself and to fail.
The following are typical examples of goals I would set for myself:
– Finish the first draft of the book I’m working on
– Start the first draft of my next book
– Read at least one book per week
– Learn something new
– Pick one of my mental patterns (like the self-destruction one) and solve it
– Exercise daily, a minimum of one hour each time
– Say “no” more often
– Put my needs first, instead of the others’ (except under the circumstances of a loved one having special needs)
– Call my family every Sunday night
– Fix my sleeping problems once and for all
– Be a better colleague and friend by showering those around me with positivity
– Give a “free smile” to three different people each day
– Etc. etc.
And of course, I used to want all of the above at the same time.
Believe me, this is the best guarantee for failing.
But if you’re not into self-destruction (or you’re actually trying to heal from it) and your goal is to change for the better, here is a good way to make resolutions and keep them:
- Be honest with yourself: if you’ve never liked exercising, chances are you’re not going to turn into a big fan of jogging, swimming, lifting weights, punching bags and any activity that makes you sweat on January 1st.
- Be realistic: if you have a demanding daytime job and you have two young kids that require your full attention as soon as you’ve reached home, you probably won’t have one full hour (or the energy) to spend on working out every evening.
- Be committed to yourself: you want to change because you know it’s good for you. Wanting to change for others, or because you need to prove something, is usually not strong enough as a motivation to keep you going in the long run. Therefore, you want to start exercising regularly because you want to keep healthy. If you do it because of somebody else, you might give up if that person doesn’t encourage you in the effort or doesn’t notice the change.
- Be flexible: if after a while you realize your resolution is not compatible with your daily routine, or if a sudden turn of event forces you to reconsider your priorities, you may want to readjust your resolution too. A fifteen-minute walk instead of the one-hour daily workout is better than giving up completely on the exercising resolution.
- Be kind with yourself: If you’ve missed one week of your daily workout, don’t punish yourself with limiting belief such as “It’s useless, I won’t make it anyways, I never did before, why would I this year?” Things don’t have to be all black or white. If you’ve failed the ten previous years, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll fail again this year.
So the key is not in the discipline and willpower you’ll have to find throughout the year to stick to the plan you made on January 1st, but rather in defining and adjusting the resolution itself – this new habit you want to create and to integrate in your daily routine.
Here are my resolutions for 2015:
- I will put health first. This is obvious and should be unquestionable. However, in 2014, I did twice the same mistake: cutting on my sleeping, eating and exercising time to fit in more work. I’m lucky that I’ve built a strong body foundation in the past five years thanks to the practice of Tai Chi. But during these two periods in 2014 when I neglected my health to the profit of work, I almost lost my mental sanity. In 2015, I will be careful not to give it all to my jobs and will try my best to keep a good work-life balance.
- I will love my art. Writing is a second nature, it’s a calling. In 2014, spending three entire months being busy and doing all kinds of things, except writing, made me unhappy and incomplete. In 2015, I will try my best to be the most loyal companion to my writing. We will fill each other’s days, rainy, sunny, happy, busy or lazy days. “Love your art and it will love you back”, I forgot who said that, but I fully agree with the author of this quote.
- I will be more opened to receiving love. Giving love is something I seem to do well, a quality that gains me the most amazing people to surround me. But in 2014, I realized that accepting and receiving love was something difficult and scary for me. In 2015, I will face my fear and try my best not to run away when love shows up.
To wrap it up, it’s about finding your own unique recipe to create a better you. And just trying your best.
Happy New Year and all the best of luck with keeping your resolutions!