By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
If you have been unable to complete your New Year’s resolutions in the past, there are some practical tips to change your behavior.
However, if your goal is to make tons of money, this will not be the column for you. If your dreams and hopes have been shattered because you don’t feel like doing it or lack self-motivation, you should read on.
Why New Year’s resolutions? What is gratifying is that, some of past my New Year’s resolutions have now become an essential part of my life.
Like many, I have a list of New Year’s resolutions every year. Not a long list, but every single one has rewarded me with new horizons. Like some of you, I was unable to achieve all of my 2017 goals. I did exceed a couple of them, though.
Before you create your list, ask yourself: Have you completed your goals in 2017? Were your goals realistic and measurable? How many of them are still incomplete? Why? Was it because you didn’t put in enough time and effort, or you didn’t have the right strategies? Did you enlist support from the people around you? Were you too stubborn and not open to suggestions? Was your list too long, and you failed to prioritize? Did you get distracted by other people or were there sudden surprises in your life? Were there opportunities and moments that you didn’t seize? Did your goals need to be extended to 2018 and possibly require longer planning?
New Year’s resolutions are just for young folks? I disagree. To make our life more colorful and fulfilling, we all should compile our new 2018 resolutions. It could be as simple as committing to meet with friends for coffee every month, learn a new language, or start a sugar-free diet.
Here are 10 steps to make your New Year’s resolutions successful.
Evaluate what you did last year. Be objective and honest with yourself when you reflect. Don’t give yourself excuses. Write down the ones you nailed last year. Understand what happened. Writing empowers you and strengthens your commitment. It will subconsciously put you into action, and push you when you least expect it. It influences you to work towards the goal, analyze what you did right, and how you can improve. You can turn it into an appreciation list of things you have accomplished. Be proud. Be blissful. Celebrate your success, even if you fulfilled only one out of five resolutions. This will psyche you up to tackle future resolutions you make.
2. Make the process enjoyable
When making the resolutions, ask what you can do to bring joy while implementing them. Don’t just work like a dog to achieve your dreams, have some fun along the way. For instance, if you would like to lose weight, don’t just go on a diet and obsess over exercising every minute. What kind of fitness program do you really enjoy? Lately, I have been practicing Bollywood Zumba with YouTube.
Every morning, I pick a new Bollywood piece. The uplifting music and beat encourages me to dance every morning, rain or shine. My aim is not to lose weight. Dancing is a means to boost my energy and spirit before I go to work. How about dancing with friends or teaming up with them to shop for food and cook together, and share delicious and healthy food? My philosophy is, don’t just look at the target, make the process fun for you. If you can make the process enjoyable, it would be easier for you to stick with it and reach the finish line.
3. 5-second rule
Author Mel Robbins wrote the book and discovered the technique. The 5-second rule can transform your thoughts and behavior.
What stops us from taking action to do positive things is our feelings. How often do we feel sorry for ourselves and don’t do what should be done? When we worry, we just sit there and let anxiety drown us. Robbins said feelings interrupt and replace our action with more negative thoughts and self-doubt. Once you realize you are doing it again — making a decision to do nothing, you should instantly countdown: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” then physically move. That 5 seconds is a wake-up call for you to rewire your brain from control, fear, and urges, and prompt you to take action. That action will wake up your prefrontal cortex and shift it momentarily. You make the decision to get up from the chair or bed, to do what is constructive. It’s a skill which requires practice. It has been working for me since I learned it a few days ago.
4. Modify your resolutions
Let’s say you are looking for a husband or wife. Instead of giving yourself a deadline to find a spouse in 2018, why not give yourself some leeway? Seek friends first, instead of a spouse. Make your wishes known to friends. Prince Harry met his fiancee Meghan Markle through friends. Join community organizations for volunteering opportunities to increase your chances of meeting your potential partner.
5. Extend your deadline
When you make the resolutions, ask yourself if this is achievable in one year’s time. Should you extend it to a longer time frame? Achieve your wish gradually. Or if the resolution is not doable, have the courage to quit. It’s a mistake to push yourself to continue pursuing an unsuitable resolution.
6. Feedback is essential
Get feedback every few months to make sure you are on the right track to shoot for the prize. Are you using the right strategies? You can evaluate yourself or consult with your loved ones or close friends.
7. Keep it simple
My health went downhill in the late 2000s, with high blood pressure, pain, and insomnia. Insomnia led to depression. To get my health back, I needed a holistic approach. It’s easier said than done. It’s not just watching what you eat. Exercising was not good enough. One of my resolutions is, going to bed early and to rise early. This includes not staying for dinner events or watching late-night television. I didn’t even stay up for the 2016 presidential election results! Yes, I went to bed not knowing that Hillary Clinton lost her presidential bid. It is challenging when my job is to cover many community events and dinners. What I did was, to leave right after I took the photos and gathered information, and skipped the dinner most of the time. I am sorry that this has annoyed some hosts. But I am determined to have my health back. It took me five years later to fall asleep early on my own, and it took me a long time to get up before sunrise. It practically took me more than seven years to learn to wake up 5, 6 or 7 a.m. depending on my schedule. Now, I can do it any day without an alarm clock. The only time I can’t follow my routine is when I travel.
8. Carry the list with you
Post it on your mirror or your cell phone so it reinforces your desire to get your resolutions fulfilled.
Whatever you do to achieve your resolutions, try something new. Studies have found that new and creative ways of solving problems, can enhance your brain. It’s a wonderful way to challenge your brain, while changing your life. Last year, I started a short daily jog after I read a New York Times article that said even a 5-minute run can improve my brain. For my whole life, I was known to be a walker. So run, run, run. Since then, I’ve discovered that running is amazing. The aches and pain on my right foot have long vanished. I don’t know if it has to do with jogging or my holistic approach to health. I assume it has to do with everything I employ to get my health back.
10. Be patient, but put a limit on it
You and I have had bad habits for years. It is silly to think that you can quit smoking in a short while. For one of my friends, it took four years to do so. My relative took four decades after she experienced shortness of breath and the doctor gave her a dire warning.
Another friend swore that he would quit gambling for years. The last straw was when he lost his house. It was too late. His wife left him. Always think of a good habit to replace a bad one. Take your time to develop good new habits. There’s no need to rush, but don’t wait too long. Exploring and creating a healthy lifestyle can be a fun and exciting process. Having awareness is already half the battle.
May your new year’s resolutions energize you, give you greater purpose, and reward you in an unforgettable path to life’s adventures.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.