Every year approximately 45 percent of Americans resolve to lose weight, reduce debt, stop drinking or smoking, spend more time with family, or dedicate time and energy to a higher cause. Something about starting a new year beckons us to a clean slate, to seek our better, higher self. We long to be healthier and happier and our souls long for self-actualization. Abraham Maslow said, "What a man can be, he must be."
While resolutions demonstrate our desire to be a more evolved, better self, the sad truth is that most of us have no idea how to actually manifest change in our lives. Statistics show that of those who make resolutions, only one in five will still be pursuing those goals six months later.
Does that mean that we are hopeless or that we should not make resolutions? Absolutely not! To strive for perfection is one of the most beautiful dances of life.
We have the power to make almost anything happen if only we will believe and assume full responsibility for the outcome. Fear, uncertainty and disbelief are all obstacles to reaching our goals, but they are obstacles we control. Here are some ideas that might just help transform the words of your resolutions to reality.
• Change begins on the inside. Use affirmations that state your desired outcome as though they are already a reality. A good example of a positive affirmation would be: "I am slim and fit. I am in control of my eating and it feels good. I enjoy taking time to exercise for my mind and my body. I am healthy on all levels."
• Be conscious of negative or harmful mental chatter. Much of this is subconscious, and everyone does it to some extent, but when we mentally abuse ourselves with negativity, it is detrimental to our success. When you recognize this behavior, say out loud to yourself, "I cancel that thought!" Envision the harmful thought on a piece of paper and then burning to ashes. Replace it with a new, positive affirmation. You will be surprised how little effort it takes to banish discordant thought forms.
• Turn your affirmations into visualizations. Close your eyes and create a vivid mental picture of yourself at the successful completion of your goal. Hold the vision for as long as you can. How do you look? How do you feel? How do others respond to the new you? How is this new situation going to improve the rest of your life?
• Take responsibility for your goals and make a plan. All the intentions, meditation, visualizations or prayers are meaningless without effort. Roll up your sleeves and get to work!
• Keep a journal and write two or three pages each day. Most learning occurs slowly over time, and often it is difficult to see the small improvements unless we keep a record. Through journaling, we can learn much about our motivations and ourselves by reviewing our thoughts and feelings. Taking the time to write down these reflections provides time for introspection. No destination is easily found if you don't know from whence you come.
• Setbacks do not mean failure. Never quit! I once heard a wise martial-arts instructor tell a class of young white belts that a black-belt student was merely a white-belt student who did not quit. This principle applies to all goals.
We "know" many things in our lives, but until we modify our behavior as a result of that knowledge, we haven't learned. Will you be among the four out of five who abandon your ideals or will you be that one who chooses to dance the dance of self-actualization? Keep one thing in mind: If you always do what you have always done, you will always have the status quo.
Blessed Be and Happy New Year.