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Create a Mindful New Year

As the New Year approaches we may take time to go back over what our resolutions were for this year and decide if we want to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing them or beat ourselves up for not being able to follow through.

How about we take a different approach this year. Instead of thinking of “resolutions” (I’ve always thought of this word to be too negative instead of being positive) we see this upcoming year as a practice toward our intentions that we really want for ourselves and our lives.

That word “resolutions” tends to have the implied rule that we will stick to them and when we don’t or can’t we set ourselves up for that negative self-talk that always keeps us stuck and we cannot move positively forward toward our goals. We may fall into the thinking of “I’ve failed again, why even bother, what’s the point?”

I have a better idea! By practicing throughout the year different ways to accomplish your intention or goal you will set your self up to succeed. It is important to set goals for ourselves and thus to create a plan to reach those goals. This provides hope and hope is the best form of an antidepressant.

So, this year let’s follow these quick steps to make sure we stick to our intentions;

  1. Know that you will stray and love yourself anyway. It is a fact of life that when you start something new it will take a while to get into the groove of your new schedule. You may commit to exercise daily and then you get stuck in endless meetings or you start a daily meditation and then the kids get sick and days go by where you didn’t do a workout or meditate. Realize that this will happen, but also know that you are in control of pulling it back together. Don’t beat yourself up and shame yourself, instead take a deep breath and get back to your scheduled daily routine as quickly as possible.

  2. Don’t judge yourself when you stray. This isn’t a good or bad thing when you wander from your intention. It is what it is and it is very natural when you are making some life changes. Just acknowledge that you wandered so you can remember it the next time it may happen. If you start that negative self-talk; “I can never do this or what was I thinking?,simply note these judgments and move on to the next step. You do not need to fester in this negative thought or give it any of your energy.

  3. Refocus your intentions. When you find yourself wandering, gently bring yourself back to your original intention and see if it needs some revisions. Maybe it just isn’t possible to do a daily exercise routine. Maybe three days a week is all you have available right now. Maybe you can’t fit a 30-minute meditation into your day, maybe you only have time for 10 minutes. It is ok to come back and refocus your intentions to help you better manage and accomplish them.

Remember, this year is a practice, so keep an open mind and heart. It isn’t meant to be perfect, it’s meant to show you how you can be kind and compassionate to yourself so that you can accomplish your intentions for the New Year.

This blog was inspired by the work of Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion (Atria Books, 2015).

What are some of your intentions for 2019?

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