Are you down on yourself for having strayed from your new Year’s resolution?
Is the initial commitment and zeal fading with every passing day?
A question for you: how much of your headspace regarding your resolution, is taken up by self punishment and criticism?
Did you ever consider that every berating thought is the very thing grating away at that fervent enthusiasm?
It’s easy to see ourselves as facing this big, ambiguous, continuous flow of events called our life, with just a flicker of hope to change it’s tide called, our resolution.
Is This Your Autopilot Dance?
Many of us go through the movements of our days unconsciously tending to what is asked of us from those that depend on us in our work or otherwise. I know that was the case for me as I’d collapse to bed at night exhausted and baffled about where the hours went. My hopes in making changes in my life, would succumb to the feeling of powerlessness as another day of inaction towards my resolution would pass me by.
Are You Feeding Your Fire Every Day?
What I didn’t realize back then was that the initial sense of promise that the new year brought, was a fire that needed to be continually stoked. I wasn’t aware that, every resolution made needed a supplementary “ fire fueling” plan that greases the wheels and upheld the conviction to carry it out while in the midst of everyday life.
Through much trial and error I learned that having a plan customized to my actual schedule, resources and energy levels helped me hold onto that initial sense of empowerment, kept at bay the judgmental and victimized thoughts and made the difference in my successfully carrying out my resolutions
The Simple, Small Yet Powerful Step
So what was the key ingredient in creating that supplementary plan? Something deceptively simple: pen and paper.
Although resolutions can be overwhelming, especially when we have disappointing memories from past attempts, the act of regularly tracking the efforts made by writing them down makes us more objective and effective about the whole process.
Break It Down Through Writing
When I began to practice taking daily notes on my resolution efforts years ago, before I began the practice of annual life reviews, I quickly began to notice elements of my day that were changeable and fringe time that could be used more effectively. These observations became the material I used to make my resolution plans. With the means to carry out the resolution woven into my daily life, the task of changing my life for the better shrank into a more manageable size and my conviction grew.
Whats In Our Head Vs. Reality
Taking pen to paper with our observations helps us begin to see the discrepancy between the picture in our mind about where we get tripped up in our resolutions and the reality. The insights that reveal themselves once you piece the notes together after a week or so will tell you where your time actually went and which small choices you made that led to the bigger, more consequential choices, that influenced your resolutions.
One Small Change= Big End Results
Even just making one to two notes of observations a day during lunch and before you sleep will help you begin to grasp what exactly you need to change in the details of your life, to help you make the bigger changes you intend.
Simple Enough To Start Today
I suggest using a small journal and pen that is easy to carry around in a purse or pocket. Take notes in it every day and treat it as a home for all your thoughts regarding your resolution efforts. This I learned, is more effective then jotting things down in post its that leave trails throughout your home and work space.
Some Questions To Guide Your Focus :
What activities in my schedule are immovable?
Which ones are more flexible and can be changed?
Which activities are optional?
Which activities are unnecessary?
Which activities can be done in another way to save time and energy?
How do my energy level fluctuate throughout the day?
How do they fluctuate throughout the month?
What do I need more of during each wax and wane of those fluctuations ?
Pivot Your Approach, Change The Results
Reading your notes from an observer’s point of view gives you some distance with which to see yourself. Through this lens, the self badgering, self sabotage aspect is obsolete. You’re looking for windows of opportunity, not failures or signs of “missing the resolution mark”. Your looking for the elements in your day that can be altered to make carrying out your resolution a reality. Getting busy putting this approach into practice, replaced my loop of critical, weighty, dead-end thoughts with an attitude of openness and active curiosity.
Application Example #1:
Perhaps you cannot control having to be in a snail-paced carline when you have to pick up your child from school. It’s necessary and a total drag to do nothing but press your foot on the gas ever so slightly every 2 minutes for a good 20 minutes. In casual observance through your notes though, you may realize this is the perfect pocket of time to make headway on your resolution of reading one book a month by listening to the audio version while on commute to your child’s school and during the carline. In 30 minutes you could easily cover one chapter a day.
My Own Experience, Example #2:
While practicing this habit towards a resolution to eat healthier years ago, I realized through reading my notes that when I was scheduled for quarterly performance review meetings in my job, I’d slip into a grip-lock of anxiety and eat junk food leading up to the meeting and afterwards.
In reflecting on my notes gathered, I began to notice this pattern 3 months into having established this writing habit. It was not my intent to zero in on this, in fact I hadn’t noticed that I self medicated my anxiety with food at all or that I even had anxiety! I just wanted to eat healthier.
The parts of me at play underneath the surface were simply not on my radar. In having pieced together the comments I made around those meeting times, it was a natural observance that unfolded much like the sports MC’s that comment on every move of the game and then rewind and review in slower motion.
What before was a time span of a few hours that I experienced as a blurred, flurry of emotion that felt out of my control and ended in guilt and powerlessness, through writing, was broken down into play by play observations.
I could not avoid the meetings but I began to see options of putting a plan in place to ease my anxiety leading up to the meeting, during the meeting and afterwards with things like making sure I gave myself an extra dosage of self care the morning of, supplied myself with quality food options in advance and scheduled another dosage of self care afterwards through things that calmed me like long walks plugged into my headphones with favorite music, followed by a bath.
Regularly writing our observations on our resolution efforts, is a way to physically interact with the information our life is showing us that before we couldn’t see because it was such an enmeshed part of how we operated. Of course if pen and paper don’t work for you, there a plethora of apps to digitally take notes. The key is to have a home for those observations so you can later harness the treasure of insight they hold.
If you want to make your resolutions a reality this year I highly suggest you give this simple tool a try, after all, those condemning voices in your head are just fear. Fear will subside when you have the information you need to make the changes you intend.
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Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!