New Year! New You!
It’s the beginning of the year and we have made our new year’s resolutions. We are excited and motivated to make positive changes in our lives. It might be hard to believe now, but in a few weeks, you might not be feeling so excited about your resolution goals. Our initial enthusiasm starts to disappear and it is difficult to stay motivated. What was new and exciting is now a boring grind and a hassle. How can we keep that enthusiasm and motivation for weeks, months, and even years? By using mindfulness techniques to harness the power of our minds to reach our resolution goals. You might be wondering what mindfulness is and what it has to do with resolutions. Our minds are very powerful. Everything that exists and has been accomplished was once an idea that came from someone’s mind. We can use this power to help us reach our resolution goals and maintain them over time.
Harness the power of your mind by using mindfulness practices.
Mindfulness is calming the mind by focusing on the present moment. During mindfulness practice, you are using the power of your mind to set your resolution goals into motion and make them a reality. Successful athletes, performers, and business people, such as Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings all attribute mindfulness techniques to their success. If it worked for them, it will certainly work for you! Some mindfulness techniques, listed below with brief explanations, include:
- Visualization-The process of imagining yourself reaching your desired goal.
- Meditation-Involves being in stillness and silence, without distraction. While meditating, some people focus on a question they would like answered. Others focus on a sound, an image, or repeat a mantra or affirmation. Still others might use focused attention to still the mind. For example, a person might use their five senses to notice all the details of an apple, such as how the apple looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes while eating it.
- Journaling-Writing down affirmations and statements of gratitude. With mindful journaling, you are write down positive affirmations related to your goals, and give thanks for what you already have and your accomplishments.
- Guided Imagery-Focuses the mind and imagination on a desired goal, feeling, or state of mind.
- Hypnotherapy-Uses relaxation techniques to access the subconscious mind to focus on specific thoughts and tasks. It can be described as using your subconscious mind to reach conscious goals.
Use mindfulness techniques to train your mind to focus on opportunities for success in reaching your resolution goal.
Here are a few tips on how to use these mindfulness techniques in your daily life:
- Practice mindfulness every day. There is a myth that it takes a lot of time to be mindful. If you have the time, great. If you don’t, don’t scrap mindfulness practices altogether. Quickly imagine yourself reaching your goal. See yourself fitting into a new outfit. Imagine how good you will feel achieving your goal and/or once your goal has been achieved. It only takes a minute. I do, however, recommend finding some time during the week in which you can take your time with your mindfulness practice. This way you can focus on your goals and get maximum impact from your mindfulness practice.
- Get calm and relaxed for your mindfulness practice. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to relax. Even if you are in the middle of a busy day, taking a moment to take a few deep breaths and visualize your success can work wonders.
- Find a place that is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions. Even taking as little as 5 minutes of quiet time can be helpful.
- Schedule mindfulness into your life. Just as you would make time for any other meeting or appointment, you can make time to be mindful. Mindfulness, regardless of your practice, is important not only with achieving goals. These practices also improve your overall sense of wellbeing and calm in your life.
Want to learn more about using the power of your mind to keep your resolution?
Come to my Mindful H.A.B.I.T.S. Realistic Resolutions workshop on January 14th, 2017. In this workshop, you will learn break through techniques to finally make a change and keep your resolution or intention. Click here to register and learn more. You can also schedule a session by clicking here.
The holidays are in full swing! While we are making our holiday lists and checking them twice, we may also be making a list of what we want to change about ourselves for the new year. Maybe we want to lose weight, get organized, or get on a budget. You have tried before, though were not successful, which makes you wonder if you should try again this year. Why not avoid the embarrassment and disappointment of not reaching your goals once again? You are not alone. According to Statistic Brain, more than half of the people who make resolutions do not keep them past six months. Why? Because of a failure to set realistic resolution goals that prepare them for success.
Don’t be a statistic! Follow these easy Do’s and Don’ts for worry-free resolution goal setting!
A resolution is really a goal with a fancy name. So, techniques used for setting lasting goals apply to resolutions, too. Check out these Do’s and Don’ts for setting habit change resolution goals that will stand the test of time.
- make goals that are outcome focused. Have a good and enthusiastic “why” for your habit change. For example, if you want to lose weight, look beyond just being able to fit in your cute new outfit. How do you feel when you eat healthy foods and exercise? Do you have more energy? Do you feel more calm and able to deal with daily stresses? While looking good in your clothes is a great reason, you might find your enthusiasm fading over time if you don’t dig deeper into how great you feel about reaching your goal.
- choose goals that are in line with your values. For example, if you value spending time with your family, but you pick a goal that interferes with your family time, you will feel like something is missing and find it difficult to maintain your goal over time.
- create goals that are specific, measurable, realistic, and time-bound. Many people make resolutions to lose weight. That’s a great goal, though it is way too broad. You need to get specific about what exactly you are going to do to lose weight. A better goal would be to “eat 3-5 servings (specific and measurable) of fruits and vegetable every day.” The statement, “Three to five servings of fruits and vegetables” is both specific and measurable. This goal is time bound because you will measure your progress each day. You could also make the timing of your goal larger if that is appropriate, such as “going to the gym for one hour at least three days per week.” These goals are also realistic for most people, though the exercise goal might require a medical check-up before engaging in physical activity.
- give up if you get off track. It’s easy to get discouraged and scrap the whole resolution when things get difficult. Instead of ditching the whole thing and resolving not to resolve again, look at what wasn’t working and why. Perhaps your goal to wake up at 4:30am every morning to lift weights wasn’t as doable as you thought when you were making the resolution. Maybe you need to go to the gym at a different time and start with less days per week so you can be successful. You can always work up to going every day when you are ready.
- blame yourself if you are not successful. Usually, resolutions fail because the plan is not specific or realistic enough for your unique situation and lifestyle. This is your plan, so customize it as needed to achieve success. Change takes practice. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pep-talk (or find a supportive person to give you a pep-talk), and get back on track. Each moment is an opportunity to start new and make different choices.
- ignore possible barriers and obstacles to your success. Identify possible triggers and challenges to your success and find ways to overcome them. If there is going to be a potluck at your office where you know there will be a lot of tempting treats, bring a healthy dish you can enjoy so you won’t be as tempted. Also, don’t go to the potluck starving, as you will be more likely to eat unhealthy foods if you are ravenously hungry.
These easy to follow do’s and don’ts will have you on your way to making resolutions that will last for years to come! Want to learn more about making resolutions that last? Click here for more information about my Mindful H.A.B.I.T.S. Realistic Resolutions workshop on January 14th, 2017. In this workshop, you will learn break through techniques to finally make a change and keep your resolution. You can also click here to book a session.
Joy Carter, MSW
Mindfulness & Spiritual Coach
It is that time of year. After all the partying and celebrations, we take an inventory of our lives and think about making resolutions. During this reflection, you realize you have an unhealthy habit in your life that you want to change. Perhaps you want to lose some weight, save more money, or get organized. You know this change would make your life better, though you feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Maybe you have even tried to change before, though found yourself failing miserably, getting overwhelmed, and finally giving up.
Fear not, my friend! There is a remedy for your resolution woes! For your resolution habit change plan to work, we must first identify the reasons why you have held on to your old habit.
Here are some common reasons why we hold on to old habits:
- Our old ways are comfortable and familiar-Change can be challenging even when it is a good change. It is important to make sure you have the proper resources and support, such a support groups and accountability partners who will help you on your journey. In some cases, it is necessary to work with a coach familiar in habit and life change to support you in your goals.
- It is scary to do new things The unfamiliar can be uncomfortable even if it is something you know will be beneficial in the long run. You must decide that your desire to have a better life is bigger than your fear of the change.
- Fear of failure When making a habit change, or learning anything new for that matter, there is going to be a learning curve. In this learning curve, it is NORMAL and EXPECTED that we are going to make mistakes along the way. The key is to start over again DESPITE the setback. Don’t beat yourself up, take time to assess the situation, make corrections, and get back on track as soon as possible.
- Fear of success This might sound strange, though it is a real fear for many people making changes in their lives. This usually relates to your feelings of self-worth and if you think you are deserving and worthy of a better life. If you find yourself struggling in this area, contact a qualified coach for support.
- Reasons unique to you and your situation This list is not meant to be all inclusive. Take some time to identify other reasons you might have developed this habit. This might require some honest self-reflection about the needs you are getting met by your current behavior.
By addressing these issues, you can finally free yourself of ties to your old habits, keep your resolution, and enjoy lasting positive habit change.
Joy Carter, MSW
Mindfulness & Spiritual Coach
Making Resolutions that Last!
The New Year is approaching and filled with hope for new beginnings. We start off the year with great intentions and make resolutions to improve our lives. We purchase a gym membership, join a diet plan, or sign up for a class. Then the enthusiasm starts to fade. The resolution that seemed so great a few weeks ago is not fun. We are lucky if we even remember what our resolutions were by February. According to statisticbrain.com, while 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% achieve them. Why is this? Are resolutions inherently destined to fail?
New Year’s resolutions don’t work because of how they are made and kept. Resolutions are really goals and intentions for how we want to change to improve our lives. New Year’s Day is not the only time we have a new beginning. Each day is a new start and an opportunity to revisit our resolutions. I made a resolution to avoid fast food and have kept it for years. Here are my tips on how to make New Year’s resolutions that last.
- Be realistic. Notice my resolution was to “avoid fast food.” It does not say I will never eat fast food. For me, “avoid” means I will not eat fast food when I have other options. For example, I was on a road trip with family and they were stopping for lunch at a fast food drive-thru on the way out of town. I did not want to inconvenience everyone and demand we go somewhere else. So, I ordered healthy choices from the fast food menu and did not feel guilty. My resolution was not “black and white” and allowed for flexibility when needed.
- Get back on track if you didn’t meet your goal today. In the previous situation, I could have given up, thinking, “I messed up, so why even bother with this anymore. It’s too hard and I can’t do this.” Instead, I focused again on my goal. When you have setbacks, focus on your goal once more and use it as a learning experience. From this experience, I learned to either bring non-perishable foods with me, or go grocery shopping once I get to my destination when traveling so I have healthy food options.
- Be specific and create measurable goals. According to statisticbrain.com, the number one resolution for 2015 was to lose weight. While this is a great goal to have, it is much too broad. In order for a resolution, goal, or intention to work, you have to break it down into what you are specifically going to do to reach your goal. For the weight loss resolution, your resolution should provide you with a “road map” to guide you towards your goal. For example, your resolution could state that you are you going to work out 4 times a week for 30 minutes each session. Your resolution could state that you are you going to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These resolutions are also measurable; you clearly know when you have met your goal or if you need to make some adjustments. This brings us to the next tip.
- It is OK to update your resolution. Resolutions are not “written in stone.” Maybe your resolution was not specific or realistic. For example, if I resolved to never eat fast food, my resolution would have failed because of the one time I ate fast food in years. I probably would have quit. Instead, I could change my resolution to avoid fast food and get right back to my goals. Don’t give up, be creative and think of ways you can make the resolution work for you.
- Pay attention to “streaks.” One thing that has been helpful to me is to consider how long I have been able to continuously stay with my goal. How many times have you said, “Oh, I could never __________.”? Insert whatever habit you want to change in this sentence. If you have in fact maintained this change for weeks, months, or even years, you know you have really accomplished something. If I am ever tempted, I think to myself, “I have gone this long, I am not going to change today and ruin my “streak.”
- Revisit your resolution, intention, or goal every single day. This is the most important tip. Bring these intentions into your consciousness daily. Show gratitude for what you have and celebrate what you have achieved. I wake up early every day to write out affirmations and statements of gratitude. I am not a morning person and I was resistant to waking up early to take time to do this. However, writing out affirmations and statements of gratitude as part of my morning routine enables me to make better choices the rest of the day. It sets the tone for the day and gives clarity to what I hope to achieve. I highly recommend this practice.
These tips will help you achieve your wonderful resolutions, goals, and intentions for the New Year, or any other time you want to make positive changes in your life. If you would like personalized assistance with reaching your goals, contact me to schedule a session. Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2016!
Joy Carter, MSW
Mindfulness & Spiritual Coach
Easy Ways to have a Healthy Mind & Spirit during the Holidays
There are many blog posts and articles circulating this time of year telling us how to stay physically healthy during the holidays. While this is definitely important, having an healthy mind and spirit is also important. In this post, I have listed 5 easy ways to have a healthy mind and spirit during the holiday season.
- Remember the reason for the season. A lot of people think that they must have the perfect holiday by cooking extravagant meals and spending tons of money on gifts. The holidays are really about spending time with the people you love. Express thanks and gratitude for your blessings, and convey hope for the new year ahead.
- Practice healthy boundaries. We all have that one person (or people) that we don’t get along with who is going to be at an event or gathering we are attending for the holidays. If you know this, place limits on the time you will have to spend with this person. Don’t plan to stay overnight while traveling where this person will be. Have a time limit on when you are going to leave the party or event so as to not add strain to yourself and others. Remember, you are in control of the situation and can politely excuse yourself and/or decline to stay longer to avoid unnecessary tension.
- Take care of yourself. Alright, so I said that I wasn’t going to talk about physical health. However, it is important to address the importance of eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and drinking water when discussing emotional health. In 12-Step recovery, one of their slogans is HALT, don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. This is applies to many situations, and is a good idea to the holiday season. Notice these things and take action as soon as you realize you’re struggling. Hungry? Get a healthy snack before all those cookies become too tempting and easy to grab. Angry? Find ways to calm down. Walk away for a moment, talk to a trusted friend, and/or take deep breaths to calm down. Lonely? Even though you might not feel like it, reach out to friends and family. Go to the holiday party. Find ways to interact with people. Check places like meetup.com to make connections with people that have similar interests to you. Keep putting yourself out there, until you find a group that you feel comfortable with. Tired? Rest and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night if you can.
- Simplify and delegate. Even Santa has elves! Do you really need a 10-course meal? Can you do parties and events potluck style? Can your partner, kids, neighbor, or friend help you in some way? Can you trade or barter? For example, are you great at baking pies and you have a friend or family member who is crafty and awesome at decorating? Maybe you could bake an extra pie for him or her, and they could decorate your table for you? Be creative!
- Last but definitely not least, find quiet time every day. Holidays or not, I recommend writing gratitude statements and affirmations every morning. Make sure that you continue this practice during the holidays, even if you feel that you don’t have the time. Taking this time can help you with all of the steps above. This practice allows you to focus more on what you have as opposed to what you don’t. Connect with your breath. This will help to calm your mind and in turn be more focused and productive the rest of the day.
Follow these 5 easy tips for a healthy mind and spirit so can be calm and focused to really enjoy the festivities of the season. Happy Holidays!
Joy Carter, MSW
Mindfulness & Spiritual Coach
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