Just as my favorite time of day is early in the morning, my favorite time of the year is the first few hours on New Year’s Day when the world is still asleep and the sun is yet again rising. There is so much hope in those first few strains of sunlight. Anything imaginable could happen in the next 365 days. This morning there are low clouds over the Holyoke range blocking the early light. I know that in about 10 minutes all those clouds will be streaked with color for a brilliant sunlight and I am ready.
A year can’t be decided in a day. In much the same way as my January and February 2013 seem almost outside of my memory’s reach, so too will this day be in a year. There are so many moments of significance in a year: so many turning points, moments of crisis, moments of action and moments of splendor. What we stand to do on this day is to look at the progress we have made in the last year and examine how we made that progress.
What tools did we use to put those new skill sets into action? What methods did we use to streamline some area of our life? How did we shift our perspective to make some part of our life easier?
Long before we look out at all the vast work we could potentially do for ourselves we must first look at what we are already doing and acknowledge that dedication. Maintaining this perspective of our strengths and our weaknesses helps to set reasonable and attainable goals for 2014.
The New Year is a time to begin again. It is a time to reset priorities and address weakness. But it is also a time to understand that a year is very long and that attempting to accomplish everything at once is a recipe for failure. There are other options.
- Continue Resolving All Year Long: Instead you could make a list of things you want to accomplish at some point this year in order of importance. Then pick one for January. When it starts to feel like habit and when you are quite certain the change is a good one return to the list and begin another. This continuation of goal setting and achieving that is not exclusively based upon the calendar year will give you a greater sense of accomplishment.
- Define Failure From The Beginning: What does failure look like? Is it forgetting one day? Is it maintaining a perfect balance day in and day out or is it allowed to slowly build up to your goal. Say you wanted to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Is it okay to start trying to drink 3 or 4 glasses a day for the first week and then add 2 more glasses in the next week. Isn’t it still a success if you are actually getting those 3-4 glasses a day on the days you get busy late in the month? If failure is harder to attain and you acknowledge all stages of progress you will be more encouraged.
- Make It Personal: Don’t pick someone else’s resolution. Weight loss, being happier they are everyone’s resolution. What is your resolution? A resolution should be something that drastically increases your quality of life. It should not make you more miserable. If walking on the treadmill three times a week sounds boring to you, don’t do it. Just because that has been your exercise routine in the past (and it didn’t work) doesn’t mean you have to go there again. Make it specific to your life and your actual desires. Get creative. Make enjoyment and satisfaction with life the underlying goal for each of your resolutions.
- Get Passionate: I am a passion person. I believe if it doesn’t look good, smell good, feel good, taste good or sound good don’t do it. New Year’s Resolutions should be so exciting and alluring that you wake up early on January 1st desperate to do them. The concept of resolutions is to better your life. If it doesn’t bring you more pleasure, don’t put it on your list. Any change made that is pleasurable and has a significant positive effect will become routine immediately. Get picky and allow yourself the opportunity for pleasure.
Monday in my two classes this week I asked my regular students to write down the ways in which they have progressed in their yoga practice in 2013. They are there more often than not every week of the year and have been coming for ages. They love the class and make it a priority not for getting in shape but for the enjoyment of coming each week and the understanding of the little ripples that it sends out into regular life. They don’t beat themselves up (too much) when they miss a couple of weeks over Thanksgiving. They just keep coming back and improving their practice.
Next week my blog post will be a list of their personal improvements and if my Friday class is not canceled due to the latest snowstorm I will ask for a list of yoga resolutions for 2014 from my Friday regulars. Check back here next week if you need some inspiration and encouragement.
Image credit: verastuchelova / 123RF Stock Photo