Happy 2017! Here’s to a new year and a new you!
January marks a perfect time to examine our last year, and to review what went well and where we can improve. We often make resolutions in the New Year, drawing a line in the sand and setting out to do our best from this point forward.
Have you ever met someone attempting a huge life change? Perhaps they’re starting a drastic diet, quitting cigarettes cold turkey, or moving across the country. Maybe you’ve been that person. Just one life-changing journey like that can be pretty intense. So what happens when, each January, we put multiple challenges like this on our immediate to-do list?
New Year’s resolutions are big goals we set for ourselves for all the right reasons. However, trying to revamp multiple habits and routines at the same time can be overwhelming and stressful to our minds and bodies. Within a few weeks of January 1st, we’re burned out and slipping back into familiar ways.
So how can we make our resolutions stick? Purposeful, positive change is always a good thing, but it is only sustainable when we give ourselves time to settle into the new ways of being. When we look at the patterns in nature, we see that life grows and changes in a consistent, steady manner. First the seed gets planted, then it takes time to grow with the support of water, soil, and the sun. What if, instead of drastic all-or-nothing changes, we developed our ideas with more patience. What if we first planted that seed a few months in advance and then celebrated small successes during the slow, steady progress of growth?
Typical New Year’s resolutions tend to set out to climb a mountain, often with no training and with punishing deadlines. However, if we take that same mountainous intention and break it into manageable pieces with milestones along the way, the whole endeavor becomes a lot more manageable.
Look at what you want to accomplish, replace, or abandon in your daily life and habits. Find the steps between where you are now and where you want to be. For example, take a common goal: achieving better health. Start by walking a bit more frequently and for incrementally longer distances. Add an extra glass of water every day, and replace some sweets you’d normally have with fruit. These are gradual changes our bodies and minds can keep up without the overload of doing everything at once.
When making any positive changes, it’s important to give yourself credit for having the insight and the courage to improve. This feeling of strength and confidence is the perfect place to start. Many of us try to punish ourselves into change, which makes for a miserable experience, and doesn’t actually support lasting growth. When you shift your perspective to focus on the benefit of change, and when you take pride in the discipline that change requires, the goal is often reached faster than expected. Whatever our choices are, our daily decisions and intentions determine our experience and quality of life.
Set your intentions and find small ways to grow in that direction. Build upon your progress by adding new practices and habits over time. Surround yourself with people who support your goals. There are practices and services that can help you achieve what you want, like meditation, acupuncture, massage, and nutritional guidance. Even a simple walk or hot bath to honor yourself and clear your mind can support you on your journey. Be nice to yourself (you deserve it!) and give yourself a reasonable time frame to make the changes permanent.
Owner and Acupuncturist at Health Discovery Acupuncture
I battled chronic migraines starting at age 17. After college, they took over my life. I had given up hope until my first acupuncture treatment. It changed my life. I wanted to learn everything about the nature of health. Thus began a lifelong study. Now I have the pleasure of utilizing what I have learned, while continuously gaining new insights, to help others optimize their health.