Monday, December 17, 2007

Making Stress-Free New Year's Resolutions

Your New Year's Resolution is supposed to help you help yourself in some way. You often use them to break a bad habit, or to promise to make some improvement in your life or lifestyle such as eating healthier or exercising more often.

The goals and ideas and promises are always good, so why do New Year's Resolutions often cause so much stress or fail after the first couple of weeks in January?

Here are few of the pitfalls and how you can avoid them. If you do these things between December 26 and December 31, you will be well prepared to follow through and successfully accomplish your resolution goals.

1. The goal is too vague.

Many people say they want to lose weight, find a better job, spend more time with their family. Here is one I am seeing quite a lot now: Resolve to reduce stress!

All of these are great goals for sure! You are on the right track for wanting to pursue them, but my first questions are how, where, when, what?

Lose how much weight? Where are you going to look for that better job? When are you going to spend more time with the family? What are you going to do to reduce stress?

Without specific details, numbers, directions, times and dates, plans of action, you are setting yourself up for failure (which, by the way, causes more stress!).

Sit down now and make a detailed plan. The act of writing it down actually helps to make you goals and plans real, too. Some people go so far as to make it look like a written contract. Words on a page solidify the ideas in black and white (or whatever colors of ink and paper you use), and makes them real. A written contract with yourself, or even just a list that you frequently review, will help keep you on track so that you may successfully fulfill your promise to yourself.

Another important point: Do review the list or contract, or your goals and efforts may be forgotten in the shuffle of everyday living!

2. The timeline is unrealistic.

Losing ten pounds in three days probably isn't going to happen. Spending more time with your family at the busy time of year for your business probably isn't going to happen.

Making resolutions that you know you can't keep is a big source of stress….huge source of stress….and though your heart is in the right place, your head has to be on board for the plan, too.

While I am completely in favor of following through with intuitive goals, those sparks of ideas that hit you like a bolt of enlightening lightening (which are often messages from your body telling you what you need to be healthy), you do need to follow some logic and reasoning in fulfilling the goal.

If you make a plan as outlined in #1 above, you will avoid the pitfall of trying to do much too fast or too soon, and avoid the disappointment of missing your goals.

3. You need help.

Sometimes the help you need is as simple as a reminder to keep you on track, so write that list or print that contract with yourself and post it where you will see it on a daily basis. Enhance it, make it pretty, frame it and hang it on a wall! The more it attracts your attention, the more energy you will put into it, the more likely you are to succeed at your goal!

If you need ideas on how to fulfill your goal, check it out online. The internet is an incredibly diverse research tool. You can find many practical suggestions not only on this blog, but other websites, message forums, and even discussion groups through Google and Yahoo, MSN and others.

If you like (or need!) to be around others, pursuing your goals with friends or other like-minded people could help keep you on track. Being part of a group is a very powerful motivator and energy enhancer that should not be underestimated or overlooked. See my previous article on the benefits of group practices: Qigong Group Practice: It Does A Body Good!

You might need the input of a professional if the "how to" of your goal is still elusive. See a nutritionist if you need to, contact a personal trainer, a life coach, or a stress management consultant like me! We are here to help you. We have many techniques available for all sorts of people and lifestyles. We want to help you overcome your challenges and reach your goals.

Happy Holidays!


Geraldine said...

Great minds think alike!!! I was just thinking about resolutions for the new year, as I did my 14K. of biking this a.m. That's one resolution I AM going to keep for sure, working out on a regular basis, I feel so much better.

Thanks again M and Happy Holidays to you!!!

Michelle said...

Good for you, Geraldine!! :-)

Resolutions can be a bit of a challenge to keep if you (and I am including myself in this, too!) haven't planned well for all the challenges that can crop up.

Preparation is certainly the key to success in this case!