As New Year's day approaches, many of us turn our minds and thoughts to resolutions. We use this time of the year to reflect on the year gone by. Actually, I encourage all of us to spend time reflecting on this past year, as long as your reflections aren't focused solely on the negatives nor used as a time to chastise yourself.

Mindfulness is about living in the moment (more about mindfulness). The past no longer exists, but in our minds. Reflecting on the past, when done non-judgmentally, allows us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves from our past experiences and choices. We can celebrate those moments when life was wonderful, and we can look at those moments when life didn't go well to decide what we can do different now, and in our planning for the future. In this way our past isn't ignored, rather, it is honored for what it teaches us.

lifesjourneyMaking New Year's resolutions is a great way for us to set goals for ourselves based on our learnings from the past. Making these resolutions allows us the time to live in the moment as we take the time to figure out what it is we resolve to do in the new year. Making these resolutions at the beginning of a new year is definitely timely; new year, new resolutions. But, if you aren’t yet ready to make your list, or to make a commitment to your resolutions, there is no rush. Resolutions don’t need to be made only at the beginning of a new year.

One of the wonderful elements of living in the present moment is that we can “start over” whenever we need to. If my day is not going as planned and I find myself getting frustrated, I can stop, breathe, and start again. I don’t need to wait until the next morning, or the next year to start over. I can start over any time I feel the need. Therefore, if you find yourself needing more time to work on your resolutions, take the time rather than rushing through a list out of a self-imposed obligation.

Here are my tips for creating “successful” resolutions:

  1. Before creating your resolution list, take the time to reflect on this past year. On a piece of paper (or e-device), make two columns, one column for what events went well and why; another column for those events that did not go well and why.
  2. Consider what you have learned from living through the events of both columns. What you feel you need to continue to learn, or to work on, is the beginning of your resolutions list.
  3. Ensure that any resolution you create for yourself is doable and realistic. Yes, we do need to challenge ourselves, but we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure, either.
  4. For each resolution, write down a sketch of a “plan of action”, and list the resources you will need to accomplish your goal. Make sure that before you start your resolution you have the needed resources necessary for your resolution.
  5. Give each resolution a due date, to keep you on track. But, if you find that you are working the resolution and do need more time, be flexible.
  6. This is my favorite: be compassionate with yourself! Yes, push yourself and challenge yourself; but if you are honestly doing your best to accomplish your goal, be compassionate during those times which are the toughest.

And remember, you can always start anew when it’s necessary.

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