What You Think Affects What You Do
Good luck traditions are nothing new. Without them, we would trudge through life without an incentive to do anything out of the norm. The New Year, and the setting of resolutions, is a tradition that has been around for eons dating back all the way to 153 B.C despite cultural variants on when the actual New Year date really occurs.
No stranger to the making, breaking of New Year resolutions, and finding myself in the same predicament each year of making promises to get started doing things that I have otherwise been reticent to accomplish before. I needed a new individualized plan designed for the unique situations of my life.
Initially, I wanted to come up with an extensive plan on how I was going to finally do those amazing things I had never got around to actually doing. I even did some extensive reading such as this article in the New York Times, which I must say has some great ideas on how to set goals that you will actually achieve. I especially like the idea of appointing a referee who holds you accountable for the goals you set with penalties in place in the event that you don’t adhere to them. Now keep in mind that penalties don’t have to be monetary. In the past, I have penalized myself for not keeping a resolution by either adding miles to my runs or extra crunches or something that actually benefits you in the end.
The problem though is that all too often new resolutions are piled on top of old unaccomplished ones. A study by psychologists and later published in the Sunday Herald stated the futility of setting New Year Resolutions. The study showed that 78% of resolutions made are broken. Some of the reasons cited for the failures were suppressions of cravings, fantasies of success or those based on pure willpower. The few who succeeded were those who had broken down their goals into achievable components with rewards put in place.
So this year, I am looking back instead to see the things I would like to continue doing and those things I really ought to do away with. The way I see it, I have to have at least done a few things right in order to live this long, so why not see what those are and build up on them if possible.
I started with the list of things I have resolved to do, but never actually got around to doing. The list was long but they all had a common theme to them. I had not created time for them. The problem was my Time Management. I realized that the only new resolution I needed this year, in order to accomplish my goals was to manage my time wisely. Of course there is more to it than that. I am now writing down the ‘Must Do’ things of each day and the amount of time I have to do each. I found holes in the day where time was simply lost either, watching mindless TV, talking on the phone, or in social media (dare I say face book?) The plan here then is to look at my To do List of each day and verify whether I have kept to my schedule and what interruptions have entered my life to stop me from accomplishing these things. Rewards are of course in place for successful use of time such as, a movie at the end of the week, or a walk/run in the park.
When I looked back to evaluate the changes I had implemented in my life in the last year I found that they too had a common theme. The theme was more of a Mind Shift. The types of thinking I had to engage in to create different environments for myself. The list was something like this (and I am of course glad to share it since it’s more pleasing):
- Focus on what is important. Family, Health, Love. This was especially critical due to things masquerading as important priorities at first glance but which I realized were not always the most important things requiring my attention. I had to learn to recognize that there are others who are equally of not more qualified to take care of things.
- Create opportunities every day to eat healthy and work out. This started slowly but in time became part of my lifestyle. While, exercise was a tortuous experience in the past, it has now become a pleasurable part of my life and I intend to keep it that way.
- Nourish my mind with literature constantly. What you read or watch will eventually be reflected in the conversations and ideologies you hold. In the past I have made it a point to learn as much as possible about questions or topics that have interested me. I have found that almost anything you don’t know is explained away somewhere.
- Awareness of thinking patterns. It’s very easy to get caught up with unnecessary thoughts. Through practicing awareness I started noticing the kinds of thoughts I was having. It’s no wonder then, that just through merely noticing, my behavior was altered and eventually my emotions and thoughts.
- Awareness of conversation patterns…This one is especially important due to the mindless prattling I have engaged in before. What you talk about with people has a way of affecting how you feel afterwards as well as the kinds of relationships you have. Actively engaging in conversations that create value in my life helped me to learn who I was and what I believe in.
- Create environment for growth. Specifically engage in interactions that create room to grow and learn new things in the world. Intentionally engaging in groups that have the same interests with me, helped me grow.
- I don’t have to be part of everything that’s going on…. Scaling back on socializing has created opportunities for others to tell me what’s going on out there. I use this quote all the time with friends and they are now really sick of it. “For peace of mind, we need to resign as general manager of the universe.”Larry Eisenberg
By realistically looking back and affirming my past year (both the good and the bad) I felt that I was set on a more achievable course for the year in 2012.
May you have a realistic Year!