Did you make a New Year’s Resolution last year? How is your resolve, did you stick with it the entire year? How about prior years? Any resolutions that you made years ago that you are still practicing? Congratulations if you answered yes.
Regardless of our past today is a new day. Here are some simple tips to make resolutions we can stick with.
1. Clearly define what your resolution is and the details of exactly what you will be doing. What does success look like?
I made a resolution to Meditate – At least 4 days a week for 10 minutes I would sit with my eyes closed.
2. Is your resolution easy for you to do? Be honest with yourself about what you can and are likely to do.
I knew 10 minutes seemed relatively short, and 4 days a week gave me 3 days to play hooky and procrastinate and still stay with my commitment. I exceeded this goal and soon was meditating 6 days week for 20 minutes a day. Had I set a goal of meditating 7 days a week for an hour a day, I would have failed the first week. By starting small I was able to keep up my meditation practice for several years.
3. If your resolution is too hard or big, or seems out of reach, break it down.
For years I have wanted to be comfortable surfing big waves. With such a vague and lofty goal no wonder I haven’t done it yet. I made another resolution which is to surf at least once a week. This simple and clearly defined intention has been easy for me to stick with the past year, and I often surf twice a week.
One of the requirements to surf big waves is training, both physically and mentally. Setting a resolution to train or get in shape doesn’t work for me. We need to define what being in shape looks like and break it down into easily achievable steps. To feel comfortable in big waves I wanted to be able to hold my breath consistently for at least 3 minutes. I knew I needed a teacher and I started searching for one.
Wim Hof is famous for holding his breath in icy cold water. When he offered a workshop in San Francisco I signed up immediately. I also started doing his online training course, knowing an ice bath was in my near future I was highly motivated to stick with the course. I defined success as practicing 4 days a week, I gave myself permission to take 3 days off.
4. If you fail or fall behind for a week give yourself a do over. Be kind and encouraging.
After a couple weeks of the Wim Hof online course I started falling behind and only did 2 days that week. So I gave myself a mulligan and repeated that week.
5. If we fail for several weeks or abandoned our resolution altogether this is great! We learn more from failure than success.
For several years I have failed at my goal to surf big waves. Mostly because it wasn’t a goal, it was a fantasy pipe dream that had no chance for success. I succeeded when I broke my big wave dream down into bite size pieces. By week 8 of the Wim Hof course I was able to hold my breath for over 3 minutes.
My failure taught me about myself and how I learn and grow. I have noticed that I rarely stick with something when I am doing it on my own. I do well and stay committed when I have a teacher and a group to practice with. So rather than keep trying to stick it out on my own I instead look for a teacher and a practice group.
Attending the Wim Hof workshop and practicing with a hundred people brought the course to life for me. I connected with the folks there and am inspired. I earned a black belt in Kung Fu the same way. I spent months searching for the right teacher and group, once I found them the commitment was easy and resolute.
6. The past repeats itself until we learn the lesson.
I have had several surfing wipeouts where I felt terrified and thought I was going to drown. My block to surfing big waves is just as much mental as physical. Even if I was in shape I would psych myself out and find some reason why now isn’t the right time.
Feeling comfortable is a feeling – calm, content, ease, peaceful. Essentially believing and knowing and feeling that I am okay now and will be okay no matter what happens. Feeling safe. I needed a safe place to practice scary or dangerous things – learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
My martial arts teacher gave us several tools to be present and calm when in dangerous situations. Facing knife wielding attackers in a dark alley and wiping out on a 20 foot waves, these aren’t the times to begin practicing. In the safety of the studio or sitting on the beach, this is where I practice.
Almost every time I go to the beach I say hello and ask permission from the earth, sea, winds, winged ones, four leggeds, the fishes, the plants, and the minerals.. I forget every once in awhile and sometimes it’s really brief and quick. I have been doing this for years and it works. I feel so much more comfortable at the beach and in situations I used to feel anxious in.
What if our resolution is to lose weight and or get in shape?
Can we break this down to an easily achievable goal, a goal that exceeds our past efforts?
How about a resolution of going to the gym parking lot and being there for 2 minutes twice a week? We don’t have go in or even workout. During that 2 minutes ask the land that the gym sits on for permission. Ask the materials that came from the earth to build the gym for permission. Ask any plants or trees in the parking lot for permission. Ask any birds or animals you see for permission. At the end of the 2 minutes thank all these for their permission.
If going to the gym is to much or you don’t like gyms how about looking up fitness classes in your area. Every week pick one and call or contact them and ask about what they offer, or go there and look in the windows. We can write down a list of questions to ask, and a list of reasons to say no if they try to get us to signup now. Leave our credit cards and methods of payments somewhere else so we can’t be pressured to pay now.
The idea is to get comfortable with something we are clearly uncomfortable with. If we were comfortable going to the gym and working out we would already be in shape. If I was comfortable surfing big waves I would be doing it now.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Incrementally step by step I am moving towards my resolution of being comfortable in big waves. It doesn’t really matter if I get there, what does matter is that I enjoy the journey and feel good about my progress. The interesting part is that when I let go of the outcome I often achieve and exceed my original goal or resolution.