In my last post I talked about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions and how to gradually introduce lasting change through small, consistent actions. After I posted the blog I got to thinking about the word ‘Resolution’ and how we understand it. I don’t know about you, but for me it has always meant doing something positive, but often involves ‘giving up’ something deemed to be unhealthy or unhelpful. I wonder then, if the way we perceive ‘Resolutions’ makes it harder for us to stick to them, on top of the way we often expect big changes overnight?
What if, this year, instead of resolutions, I choose to set ‘intentions’? Small, positive acts that I practice consistently. Now, I am the sort of person who, historically, has started things with great gusto and run out of steam quickly (the classic hare). I want results and I am often impatient about getting them. I get frustrated when returns don’t appear quickly and instead of sticking with my new behaviours, I ditch them for something else. What results is a kind of ‘scatter gun’ effect where some actions hit home and others fall short.
And so it has typically been in my past New Year’s efforts at positive change. The New Year rolls in, accompanied by a sense of, well ‘mlurrghhh’, not a great way to start a journey of positive change! I ‘try’ to stick to my ‘resolutions’ and quickly run out of steam (there’s that hare again!). I then berate myself for ‘failing’ and give up completely, reverting back to the way I’ve always done things. As a result, for the last few years I haven’t even tried to set resolutions, as the outcome (in my mind) was predetermined ‘failure’.
So, this year, I have instead opted to be more tortoise. I have set intentions – to meditate for just ten minutes each day, to read something educational for 30 minutes a day, to exercise for even just 15 minutes at least 4 days a week and to achieve my 10,000 steps daily. Even just using the term ‘intentions’ has changed my perspective. It feels more gentle, kinder and more achievable. It encourages me to do the healthy practices, but not to berate myself if I don’t achieve them all some days. Rather than aiming for 45 minutes exercise 5 days a week, the smaller, more manageable goals I have set are encouraging me to start, and once I start, I consistently do more than the 15 minutes.
Meditation is something my busy mind struggles with and most definitely would benefit from. So just ten minutes a day of guided meditation using an app is enough to start with. I slot it in after my morning walk and I am beginning to look forward to those precious minutes of my day. The stack of books I want to read but never get to feels more accessible as, instead of looking at the whole book and thinking how long it will take me to get through, I am setting my timer and allowing myself to become engrossed for those 30 minutes.
OK, so it is only 6th January and I have a way to go yet, but I am feeling good about my intentions. I am looking forward to achieving each of them each day and I plan to introduce more once I have these established. Already I feel more centred and in control and it is early days! So, here goes, I will keep you posted on how I get on putting the small, consistent changes into practice.
Perhaps you’d like to join me? Drop a comment below with your intentions for small, consistent, positive change and we can encourage each other!