07/21/2012 11:14 am ET Updated Sep 20, 2012

Baby-Stepping Your Way to a New Life

When was the last time you thought about those New Year's resolutions you made so long ago? All but forgotten, right? Traded for the "bathing suit shape-up in May," and soon to be entirely lost to the back-to-school/back-to-work rush of August and the holiday rush of the fall. Before you let go of those well intentioned resolutions, stop. There's still time to bring them to life if you just stop for a moment.

Yes, this year has been far busier than any of us imagined. But just because things may have slipped, it doesn't mean you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Lasting transformations don't happen overnight. They take time, and they come with plenty of setbacks. So relax, there's still plenty of time to steer your life in the direction you want it to go. Just stop trying to make it happen in one fell swoop. Forget the grandiose, Olympic-sized leaps of change that you thought were possible. Instead, take a different approach to becoming the person YOU want to be.

Think baby steps, and use the change of seasons that is fast approaching as a starting point. Think in terms of all the little choices you make every day without even giving them a second thought. That is where lasting transformations live, and you can turn those little choices to create a shift in your life that will turn "your" life into "YOUR" life.

The first step you should take is to stop thinking about a timeline. Real, lasting transformations don't happen in a flash. They develop over time. So think less about overnight change and think in terms of a personal evolution. Think gradual slope instead of insurmountable mountain. Relax. You're going to be on this blue marble for a while, so you might as well enjoy watching your own transformation as it happens.

Next, stop allowing yourself to love life on auto-pilot and start taking an active role in YOUR life. Stop regretting the fact that you did something without thinking at work last week. If you want to transform YOUR life you need to be aware of yourself and the world around you. You need to wake up to the way you respond to the events in your life. If you are aware of what you're doing, you can learn to stop yourself from doing the wrong things and move YOUR life in the right direction.

Third, and most important, realize that it's not the big decisions that move your life, but the little choices you make every day that move you in one direction or the other. It's also the little choices you make that often prevent you moving in the direction you want to go. You see, it's not the New Year's Eve declarations that change your life. It's the little things that you do between those declarations that really matter, because those little choices are where you live. Those are the things that actually drive your life where you want it to go.

So here are some tips to help you get back on track, and to help you stay there well into the future.

Balance YOUR Day From the Start
There is no better time to set the pace of your day than when you first wake up. Remind yourself that this is YOUR day, no one else's. Before you get out of bed in the morning take a few minutes to just float on your breathing. Lie on your back. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Take a few deep breaths in to your belly. Smile as you feel your stomach rise and fall with each breath. Think about just one thing you want to do today that will move your life in the direction you want it to go. Just one. Don't just jump into your day, give yourself the two minutes you deserve to balance your morning, steady your thoughts and guide your day in the direction you want it to go.

Swim on Your Breath for Midday Balance
When your life starts to get blown off track, stop yourself from following along. Take a moment to calm down by learning to swim on your breath. It's a great way to reduce your stress and stay on top of the distractions that can derail even the best laid plans. To do this, don't try to change your breath, don't even try to control it. Simply follow your breath in and out as you breathe slowly and deeply down into your lungs. Feel the air enter your nostrils and flow down into your lungs. Feel it settle for a second or two, before it rises up to leave your body. Don't dwell on the thoughts that come into your mind. Simply acknowledge them and return to your breath and your count. Take a few minutes to breathe every day. It will pay you back with hours to spare.

Be Aware of Your Emotions
Emotions are not good or bad, they are simply your brain trying to tell you that something in the world around you is about to affect you. Pain is your body telling you that something is harming your body. Fear is your brain trying to tell you something bad could happen if you keep on the path you're on. Anger is your brain trying to tell you somebody is treating you unfairly. Love is your brain trying to tell you something wonderful is about to happen. The next time you feel an emotion, stop yourself and hit the "pause" button. Step back from whatever it is you were about to do and think for a moment. Think of the choices you have available to you and choose the direction YOU actually want to move in. Stop letting your habits and auto-responses lead your life. Take a second to be aware of what you're doing and why. Learn to make good choices.

Start With Mindful Eating
Food is huge part of our lives. It's more than just sustenance, it is, in so many ways, who we are. So take the time to take control of your food and your life. Both are areas that you can manage, if you slow down and allow yourself to do so. First, stop trying to finish your meal before you've even started. Take a moment for yourself to actually enjoy what you're eating. Next, be aware of the food before you. Notice the shape, color and texture of it. Attune yourself to your body, the way your body responds to different foods, as well as what you're feeling as you anticipate your meal. Notice the taste, the texture and the different emotions you feel when you eat. Take the time to really see the service around you. Notice the place setting, the staff and the décor. Appreciate and enjoy what you have before you rush back into your day. It's a wonderful way to teach your mind and body what's important in YOUR life.

Pace Yourself
You are going to be here for a while. Not where you are right this instant, but on this planet and in this life. There are more people to meet, more events to attend and more things to do than anyone has time for. So pace yourself and know that you can't do everything. Try to set aside different days for shopping, cooking and visiting friends. Give yourself extra time to just sit for a few minutes and enjoy life. Teach yourself to avoid last-minute scrambles by setting aside a few minutes more than you may plan to spend on something, to rebalance yourself and create a foundation to return to. It will help to keep you balanced no matter what goes on around you.

Remember, stop thinking of change. Change implies you've done something wrong, change also hints that it will happen overnight. Think instead of transforming your life, of evolving from the person you are into the person YOU want to be. Its in YOUR power to be whoever YOU want to be. Just relax and take a few little baby steps in the right direction. Before you know it, you'll be looking back, amazed at who you were.

For more by Jeff Cannon, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.