'Tis the season to grab a pen and paper and make some New Year's resolutions. Sounds so simple, and yet, is there a craft to making your new year's goals more meaningful? Here are a few tips, some backed up by studies, that will help you make the most of this fresh new year.
1. Write them down! Studies show that writing down your goals increases the likelihood that you will meet them.
2. Get social. Sharing your goals with a friend and giving weekly updates on your progress increases your success rate by 33 percent.
3. Deepen yourself. How do your goals define you? Look at your list. Is it oriented toward success, the acquisition of things, the acquisition of people? Are you entering this new year from a needy place? Along with a list of resolutions, also make a gratitude list. A gratitude list has its own range of benefits, including better overall health, more optimism, and more frequent physical exercise, according to Dr. Emmons at UC Davis.
After you've made a list of at least 10 experiences, people, places, things that you're glad about, from this grateful perspective, take a look into your soul and ask yourself what you would like to give. Would you like to be able to give money, time, or advice to a charity? Is there a young or elderly person in your life who you could give some time and attention? Yes, receiving can be satisfying. But giving is satisfying in an even deeper way. Make room for giving in your list.
4. Access the wisdom of self inquiry meditation, or Atma Vichara, as it's known in Sanskrit. If, like most humans, you're dealing with impulse control in the arena of eating, exercising, disciplined saving/spending, self inquiry can be a great help. When you notice the thought, "I need that brownie/dress/car/person/video game" (fill in the blank, you get the idea), before you act, take a deep breath, slow down, and ask yourself, "Is that thought true?" Question your thinking. Don't believe everything you think. You might find that some of your own thoughts are not true, but instead self-destructive impulses. (If you enjoy this practice, you can take it deeper by asking yourself, "Who am I?")
5. Finally, I recommend starting now. As my favorite teacher, Eckhart Tolle, likes to remind me, there really is no future. The future is a far away idea. Your reality is in this moment, and this moment doesn't seem to end. So whatever resolutions you are carefully sculpting, don't put them off.
"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise."
"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe