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How do you make Resolutions so that they stick?

Do you feel like giving up on your resolutions or is there a way to salvage the ones you've made at the beginning of the year?

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‘I need to lose some few kilos in the coming year’ I thought to myself as we were nearing 2020. I am a pretty health-conscious person and regularly go for long walks. “But I have to take an extra effort this year’, I think to myself” because these pounds are not shedding themselves!”

At the beginning of January last year, I got a Fitbit to track my steps and keep me motivated. I also joined our local leisure center. “Maybe some vigorous run on the treadmill will help”, I thought.

I went to the gym three days a week and walked on the other two days. I did not want to brute force myself into losing weight, following fad diets and brutal exercise like I had done in the past. I’ve tried them before, and they seem very short-sighted. I would feel charged initially, and the excitement and determination either faded pretty quick or brute force myself by going through some stupid diet, losing some weight, and becoming unwell.

This time around, I wanted a sustainable plan- a plan that works, which was part of my lifestyle and one that I enjoyed. But with all the restrictions that we had this year, with gyms closing, and working from home with us all turning to master chefs, I probably gained a pound or two. But if I look at myself, I took my resolution pretty darn seriously in the larger scheme of things.

Despite gyms being closed and us being in a pandemic, I walked for an hour nearly every day of the week for a good chunk of the year. I only missed out when I was unwell for a few days. I also ate healthy home-cooked food for 85% of the year. In between, I did try a bit of weight training during the summer holidays. That fizzled out after a while because I didn’t quite have the time with life starting back to normal. I also started leading a slower and more intentioned life, not rushing at every minute, and relaxed quite a bit. Over the last few months, I even started drinking lime water every morning (apparently there are zillion benefits).

So in the larger scheme of things despite not losing any pounds, I did a lot of good for my health. So I realized that although I did not reach my short-sighted goal of losing a few pounds and getting to a particular weight on the weighing scale, I was on my road to leading a healthy life and if truth be told, that’s what my main objective was. I couldn’t articulate why I wanted to lose those kilos at the beginning of the year, but now I realized that my real goal was to lead a healthy and peaceful life.

That taught me a couple of things on how to make resolutions that stick.

  1. Should we make resolutions — Heck, Yes! They do a world of wonders. Every year or during different times of our lives, we should be making resolutions because they help us become disciplined and better versions of ourselves. It helps us have a new vision and allows us to evolve. When you have an intention to do something, it will materialize. As the famous Lao Tsu said, Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” .If you don’t even start with the intention to reset your life, everything stays the same and nothing changes.
  2. Do we have to wait only for New years to make resolutions- Heck no! you can resolve to change at any point in life. We don’t need permission slips from anyone. The day you’ve decided to make a change or transform your life is the day you change. So don’t limit yourself to New Year or Lent or any such day. Because your mind is the most powerful tool, you have. According to Teresa Garcia,’ If you learn how to harness its power, your life will be filled with great things ‘ So commit to making that change now!
  3. When you don’t feel motivated -If you don’t feel motivated to change, use days like New Years’ when the whole world wants to make changes. As humans, we love to copy one another. Zanna Clay, a primatologist and comparative psychologist at the Durham University in Britain, says, It seems to be a critical part of our cultural capacity that we’re willing to copy stuff even though we don’t know why we’re doing it,” So as humans, since we like to be in it together and do what others are doing, at least do it on these days allotted by society.
  1. Understand your WHY? It is essential to look at the bigger picture of what you want to change. A change like losing weight is too general and lacks clarity. When you dig deeper, you can find out the real reason for you wanting the change. A friend of mine wanted to lose 3 kilos because she wanted to look pretty to find Mr Right. So her real goal was to meet someone to spend her life with. Would it not be helpful to take the required steps to meet potential suitors in such a situation?
  2. Know that transformation or change – does not have to be quick, instantaneous or measurable for it to mean something. We are not Ubereats or Uber or Click & Connect. Since we live in this technological world, everything happens at a click of a button; we expect our bodies and life and human experience to be like machines or technology. There is no magic switch or app, which will instantly turn our goals into reality. It takes hard work, perseverance, commitment and long-sightedness. Just because tech has evolved in such a way doesn’t mean that we can too. We cannot trivialise our human experience and compare ourselves to machines. 
  3. Patience is key-When we don’t see results after we’ve taken action, don’t get disillusioned and disappointed. Let’s not become like entitled toddlers and say,’ Hey I’ve taken action, but I haven’t seen the result’. Also, don’t moan that life’s not fair or start doubting yourselves and spiral into despair and give up. As Anthony Robbins said: “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we repeatedly do every day.” So be patient and have the grace to wait.
  4. Don’t make friends with ‘Excuses.’ It is normal and human to doubt ourselves when things don’t happen like we planned, especially in today’s fast-paced world. Instead of acknowledging it, don’t resort to blaming – ‘Oh the gyms are closed so I couldn’t’, or ‘I am too busy’! ( This year, COVID has become everyone’s favourite punching bag!) Instead, be creative and find ways to work around potential issues. Keep your plan B ready and great cracking!
  5. Look at your goals as an ongoing journey. Great things take time to build. So it is essential to do small little bits daily. Last year, I also decided to start a Gratitude Journal. I have written only five times during different parts of the year in it. It doesn’t mean that I have failed in it. It means it is an ongoing work in progress. Learn to look at your goals holistically.
  6. Have Periodic reviews -It is helpful to have periodic inspections to check if you haven’t been too unrealistic. Maybe after a month, you realise that in excitement you planned more than what was possible. Refine it and keep moving forward. Remember, it is the journey that counts not the destination.
  7. Make it fun– Resolutions don’t have to be tedious or laborious. There are fun ways of doing things. If you don’t like the gym, try walking, running, cycling, playing outdoor sports, gardening. Getting creative helps keep the game move forward.
  8. Perspective is King – You’ve probably heard of the saying ‘ looking at the glass half full or half empty ‘, haven’t you? I can always say, my last year’s resolution was a failure because I didn’t lose weight, which is right in a way. But it is also true that I did gain a healthy lifestyle and had many other wins. So focussing on the positive brings its benefits.

So this new year remember that resolutions are essential because they can focus your mind on where you want to be, who you want to become, and what you want to accomplish. It gives you focus and stability. But when you make them, ponder the long-term vision/purpose and how you can realistically honor it. Remember that it is not a rat race, a machine, or a competition, but your life. So take the time to know why you want to make it, how it will help you and what small actionable steps you can take. Every month re-assess it and move forward. Here’s hoping 2021 brings out the best version of you!

Originally published at https://www.elephantjournal.com on December 30, 2020.Lana

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