It's almost the new year, and we’re all looking to work on ourselves somehow. Whether it’s by kicking a bad habit or dedicating ourselves to a new workout routine, there’s always more we can do in the process of self-development.
Unfortunately, if we stumble through a point in our improvement journey, we often start to think of ourselves as failures. So how can we restore some honor in our lives and stay motivated to go after all of our resolutions?
Here are 10 simple things we can do to start:
1. Learn to say no.
The word no is a very powerful tool. We’re accustomed to saying yes to too many things — a tendency that can overwhelm us energetically and rob us of precious time.
Saying yes to one thing could mean saying no to something even more important, and it could ultimately steer you away from your goals. Though tempting, saying yes to a night out drinking means saying no to that workout, that family time, or that sleep you’ve been craving.
2. Don’t overdo it.
Steer clear of unreasonable, lofty resolutions. Telling yourself you're going to go to the gym seven days a week every week is probably a bit overly ambitious. It would be more productive to start off with three days and get some wins under your belt before you move onto next steps.
Look at your current schedule and take stock of all you’ve already got going on, then make a reasonable addition or consciously take something else away to make room for a new, attainable goal.
3. Leave some gas in the tank.
Most of us give up when we’re tapped out, so you’ll need energy in order to make real change. Take small steps to manage your energy so you’re not wiped out by the end of the day — eat plenty of protein in the morning, take breaks throughout the day, and leave a good 15 minutes to relax and digest after lunch.
4. Talk is cheap.
Stop yapping about what you plan to do and just get to work. Don't let other people deter you — you can inspire your friends with your results, and then use your momentum to support their journeys too.
5. Take control of your calendar.
We’re terrible at building time for ourselves into our busy schedules, and great at filling them with the desires of others. If your resolution isn’t booked into your calendar, then when were you planning on doing it? If you really want to achieve your resolutions, set aside the time you'll need to work on them. Pen yourself in.
6. Keep your appointments with yourself.
It's one thing to slap something onto your calendar, and a whole other to honor it as a commitment. Time is precious — use it as an asset and invest it towards your goals. Create a habit of completing a task during the time period you've allotted for it. Get good with time and you’ll get better with life.
7. Keep moving all day.
Contrary to what you might think, sitting around all day can decrease our energy levels. In fact, some studies show that a sedentary lifestyle leads to chronic disease and premature death.
Get up and do something active (10 reps of some low-intensity exercise) every 25 minutes. Within a week, you’ll likely notice some newfound energy that you can re-invest into achieving the promises you've made to yourself.
8. Try a vow of silence.
Try and block out one day (Sundays are great) and do not speak. This vow of silence can be really difficult, but I promise the results are incredible. Going through this exercise will show you how much energy you've been wasting talking all day long.
Our thoughts are haphazard enough — by the time they become words, we’ve dangled a lot of chaos out into the world. Try to complete this exercise in restraint at least once a month (you can limit it to the morning if you can’t block out the whole day). Once you return to speaking, you’ll be better at measuring your words and aligning them with your intent.
9. Make a "life garden."
If you only had room for five plants in your garden, what would they be? How much water would they require? Apply the same level of selectivity to your dreams. Think about what’s really important to you and what you need to do to water those things and bring them to life over the next few years. This way, when new things pop up, we can identify them as weeds and pluck them.
10. Remember: change happens daily.
If you want to see big things happen, start with single steps. What can you do each day to move towards your goal? What practice can you commit to on a regular basis? Start small. Once you nail an easy item everyday for a week, pick another one (or stick with the same one) for 30 days and then 100 days. Build the discipline like you would a muscle.
In my tradition, the key to manifestation is the understanding that, in order to make great things happen, our intent needs to be coupled with our focus. Assemble your life around small acts of self-improvement until they become habits. Once you nail this, positive change will become a way of life.
For more advice on how to achieve your dreams, check out my new book, The Urban Monk – Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace, available for preorder now.
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