A Different Approach To Resolutions

 
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Most of us enter a New Year eager for changes, expectations, and improvements. A lot of us start hoping that this year is our year! This is the year I will have more time to read, be in the best shape of my life, skyrocket in my career, etc. There is an endless list of possibilities when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. With so much hope and aspirations, if you’re like me more often than not I arrive at the end of each year, for the most part, disappointed at my uncanny ability at falling short with my resolutions.

Now that 2017 is coming to a close, I reflect upon the goals and resolutions I had set for myself at the end of last year and realize something. I’ve miraculously dodged my almost routined disappointment and have surprised myself with my success rate this year. Although I didn’t 100% succeed in all my resolutions, I’ve done a lot better than in my previous years and here’s why:

Identifying & understanding my motivations.

Let me use a simple resolution and start by sharing how I used to approach it. I chose to focus my attention on the action and/or activity. For example, I always have a goal of reading at least four books a year. This may sound simple to an avid reader, but I am someone who I classify as a non-reader by nature. Reading a book isn’t something I do on a daily basis, nor is it something I gravitate to if an opportunity arises. Reading for me is something I consciously make an effort of doing because at the end of the day I love to learn and although audio books are an option, I still think there’s great value in reading books (well, my Kindle). Now, this may sound crazy to some of you bookworms out there, but this is the first year since my days in school where I’ve succeeded in this resolution. (Truthfully, I was a fan of SparkNotes!) Yes, that’s right I finally read four books in a year! MIRACLE.

The difference between this year from previous years is the question of why. I asked myself why I had set this as a resolution each year, why is this resolution important and what is my motivation and purpose behind this resolution. Let me share my answers with you:

Why is reading important? What is my motivation & purpose behind this resolution?

To learn. I value knowledge and continuous learning-- as Socrates had said “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” or in other words, the wisdom we possess is in knowing that there’s always room to learn more. The human brain has an insatiable capacity for knowledge and learning. Simply said by Dr. Seuss, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Simply said by Dr. Seuss, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Note: Worth noting that I pretty much only read non-fiction books

What was different about this year was that reading was my avenue towards satisfying my purpose to keep on learning. I was motivated simply by the fact that the reason I read was no longer just to read a book, but that I wanted to gain knowledge, continue to learn, and stimulate my brain.

There’s something powerful that happens when I attach a bigger intention and purpose to the goal I want to achieve. In previous years, it was hard to get myself to read because I viewed reading as a chore. Meaning, reading was a chore which took time away from doing other things I enjoyed. Instead, this year I focused my attention on the bigger picture and the motivation towards the action.

It sounds simple, but give this a go this coming New Year! Make sure to attach each resolution to a deeper motivation with a greater purpose in your life.

Here are some questions which might help:

  • Why is this resolution important to you?

  • What are the motivations behind this resolution?

  • What is the purpose of this resolution?

  • What are the positive impacts/changes that will result from completing this resolution?

  • What is driving you towards this resolution?

  • How will this resolution impact you and/or others around you?

  • Is this resolution for you or for someone else? If for someone else, who is this person(s) and why is this resolution important for them?

Cheers to a wonderful New Year’s Celebration! Here’s to a wonderful year ahead.

 

Intention Matters

 

Intentions are where actions and consequences (i.e. the ripples which actions create) are nested. Once an intention is set, a chain of thoughts, and sometimes also actions are propelled forward. The value of my actions rests in the intentions I possess because whether my action is good or bad if my action is led with poor intent, the action will, therefore, be flawed. The same action can begin from different intentions, but the significance of intentions becomes obvious through the ripples which follow. Actions are only as good as the intentions which drive them, which is why operating with the right intention is so critical.

Let’s think for a moment and compare this in real terms. If my intention to embark on a journey towards a “healthier self” is only driven by the intent to improve aesthetics and to lose weight, then the focus on health becomes secondary. The problem is, if my health journey is only driven by an intent towards aesthetic and weight loss, then I am not against actions which aren’t in the best interest of my health.

When I was younger I was so hung up on my weight that I did everything and anything I could to drop the weight. I didn’t think about whether my actions were healthy choices because the obsession over how I looked and the number on the scale inhibited me from placing health as my main concern. My focus was on the number on the scale and health became an afterthought. I fell into unhealthy methods for weight loss. I attempted week-long juice cleanses, and lemonade and cayenne pepper diets, only to find that I was only losing a few pounds of water weight. The moment I started to eat solid foods, my weight would climb back up. Mentally, I was also severe in my approach to myself. I got so angry at myself anytime I succumbed to my hunger and broke the liquid diet. I was even upset at myself when I felt nauseous and dizzy. I thought to myself why was I so weak-- “if others can, why can’t I complete a juice fast!” A big learning here is to listen to my body.

When my body was screaming in hunger, signaling itself through nausea and headaches, it should have been clear that what I was doing was not a journey towards a healthier self. My body was clearly alerting me to something else. How I felt should’ve been the best judgment, but what happened was that my faulty intention pushed me towards actions which prioritized not my health, but rather prioritizing on the aesthetic goal and weight loss. I, therefore, didn’t care to notice that my decisions were detrimental to my own well-being.

In my opinion, liquid diets, are what I classify as starvation diets. It’s a quick fix and does not prioritize the well-being or health of the individual. Yes, you may lose weight because losing weight is about a calorie deficit (i.e. you’re using more calories than you’re consuming) and if you’re only drinking lemonade for weeks you’ll certainly have a calorie deficit; but being healthy is so much more than just calories in and calories out. Health is also about the quality of the calories, amongst other things. Although I had lost a little bit of weight and may have achieved my immediate goal to lose a little bit of weight, the consequences on my well-being were much more fitting to judge the quality of my intention (I gained the weight back quickly too). From the nausea and headaches, it was clear that my health took a back seat!

My transformation began with a shift in intention. Once I defined my intention as a journey towards a “healthier self,” I now take actions which are in favor of my health. I try to eat healthier meals every day versus counting on temporary starvation diets. I am less fixated on the number on the scale and more focused on the quality of what I eat. I maintain and vary my fitness routine in order to promote my health; such as incorporating two to three high-intensity training sessions, yoga, and some steady-state cardio into my week. Even taking a step back sometimes. The liberation comes from the intention I operate from and how different the life I lead becomes. My decisions are no longer driven by temporary aesthetic or weight loss goals (although of course, these are still a bonus to my healthier lifestyle), my decisions are now driven by the long-term goal to be my healthiest self. This equates to a lifestyle change versus a temporary change and that’s where I have found success in achieving a healthier self.

The simple shift in mindset is what set me up for a different kind of process. With the right intention, the thoughts which come up and the actions which are catalyzed are consequently different because of the shift in my intention. It's a simple shift that's worth every effort!