I’m sorry to be a Negative Nancy but that New Year’s Resolution you set? It will probably fail. A study published by the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that only 46% of people stick to their New Year’s Resolutions. This means that over half of you will be unsuccessful and according to research by Strava, most people will be give up on the 19 January. The news is not all bad, however, the success of your New Year’s resolution depends on how you approach it.
The new year signifies a new beginning. A chance to start again. A chance to leave all the unwanted habits in the past and create new ones. However, as good as your intentions are, there are many reasons people fail at achieving their goals.
The goal is too big.
There is no problem with dreaming big. However, when that dream or goal feels so overwhelming and unachievable, then you are more likely to give up and go back to your old ways. Success is built on a number of smaller habits. Recognise that it is possible to achieve your vision. However, it is better to start small and be consistent, then go all out for a few weeks and give up because it becomes too hard. Physiologically, we strengthen our neural pathways when we repeat a behaviour or a skill, which then becomes a habit. If we try to change all our behaviours at once, we are setting ourselves up for failure. It can take anywhere from 19 to 254 days to make or break a habit. If our goal is to create a regular yoga and meditation practice, start with one small habit first. Perhaps this is deep breathing, meditation or even sun salutations for a few minutes as soon as you wake up. If you can remain consistent and stick to this behaviour, after a period of time, it becomes so automatic that you don’t even have to convince yourself to do it. This is when you can celebrate your small win and build on your practice. So, if you become too overwhelmed with that big goal that you set on 1st January and feeling like giving up, don’t become disheartened. Break the new behaviour down into smaller parts and go from there.
You don’t know your WHY?
What is the real reason behind your goals? If you just focus on the superficial reasons, such as fitting into your skinny jeans, you will fail. What is the real motivation behind looking good? It is associated with your self-worth? Finding love? Feeling better in yourself? In yoga, we set intentions called a Sankalpa. Sankalpa is a heart-felt desire. Self-reflection and meditation can help you discover what you really desire. My Sankalpa is that ‘I am creating a life of passion and purpose.’ Every goal I set revolves around this intention. Set your Sankalpa on a personal quality you want to cultivate. For example, if you want to feel good in your body, your Sankalpa may be ‘I am healthy, fit and have a beautiful body.’ Every time you meditate, you can set this intention. Remember to set your intention in the present using ‘I am’ statements.
Your goal does not align with your values.
So you think you need to practice yoga for two hours a day to be a real yogi? This may be achievable if we do not have any other values or priorities in life. However, most of us have families, partners, hobbies, work, maintaining an organised household and so on. We need to get clear on our values and make sure the new behaviours we are trying to cultivate align with them or we will feel like we are constantly pushing and struggling. You can find a list of core values here. Choose only three or four values and when you set a goal, ask yourself, ‘is this in line with my core values?’ If your primary core value is family, then perhaps meditating for only 5-10 minutes in the morning is more achievable and you can focus other time you have on your priorities. Living life in accordance with our values allows us to flourish and flow through each day with a sense of ease.
How does meditation help us to achieve our goals?
Many of us live life in autopilot. Not really paying attention to our thoughts and behaviours. When we slow down and start to notice, then we have the awareness to make changes. When we create new behaviours, it often takes mental effort and mindfulness to stop ourselves from reverting to our old patterns. We can also use meditation to set our Sankalpa or intention and become more aware of values. If you would like to join our free meditation challenge, click here.