Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the month of December has an undeniable vibe to it. At some point or other many of us may consciously reflect on the year just past and focus on our hopes and dreams for the year to come. For some of us, this simply translates into a list of New Year's resolutions that quickly get forgotten or dropped by mid-February. For others, it's make or break time - you've had enough of the same old same old every year and you're really serious about changing things for the better in 2015.
So how can you make sure you really do stick to your commitments to change things for the better for yourself come January 1st and beyond? Read on to find out what to do and what to avoid.
I don't know about you, but come Christmas or New Year's Eve I can almost guarantee I'll hear at least one friend, acquaintance or complete stranger say: "it's been a shit year. Boy am I glad to see the back of it!" In fact, how often have you said that yourself? Come on, be honest, we've all done it and the irony is we can find ourselves saying exactly the same thing the following December unless we make a conscious commitment to do otherwise. One of the problems is that as human beings a lot of us seem scarily wired to focus on the things that can go wrong or have gone wrong in our lives which is why, when we cast our minds back to the year just gone, many of us will find it easier to remember the bad stressful bits (of which there seem to have been many) rather than the good bits (which you can end up counting on one hand).
The scary thing is the more we focus our thoughts on something, the more our brain will look for evidence to back those thoughts up. Think back to a time when you made a big buying decision like a car, for example. You have a specific make, model and colour in mind. Now isn't it funny how suddenly you start seeing more of that particular car on the road? In the Hawaiian Huna tradition there's a principle that explains this 'coincidence' and that's: energy flows where attention goes.
So with this in mind, how effective do you think you'll be in creating a better year for yourself if you're too focused on what's been going wrong in your life so far? Yes, you may come up with a list of New Year's resolutions because you're keen to avoid another year like the one just gone but how easy do you think it'll be to keep those resolutions?
To really make the New Year count and create better outcomes for yourself, try changing the way you've been thinking and ask yourself the following questions:
First of all, if energy truly flows where attention goes, as well as noting what went wrong over the past year, be sure to make a good note of what went well. Yes, I know this may take longer to do but it's worth the time and effort and the more time you spend thinking about what went well, the more examples you'll uncover. Ask yourself questions like: what was I particularly grateful for this year? What or who really touched me? Who are the people I enjoyed spending time with this year? Who or what made me laugh? What made me feel good? What am I especially proud of?
Once you've got a list of what went well for you over the past year, give thanks. Gratitude is a much lighter energy than frustration and regret. Gratitude opens us up to other opportunities while frustration and regret close us down. Which do you think is the better state to be in when thinking about the year ahead?
Next, ask yourself:
What's important about your life now?
Although there may be lots of things we want to change in our lives, there are some things we're happy with and actually enjoy. So instead of saying everything has to change, ask yourself what's important and what you cherish right now. If you've spent time making a note of what went well over the past year, you'll have clues already. Now it's time to ask yourself why these experiences, achievements, people and things are important to you. By doing this, not only are you reconnecting with and reminding yourself of what's important to you so you feel happy and fulfilled, but you can also take note to try and make sure you continue having these things in your life as you move forward.
What would you rather be doing?
This is where you have free rein to dream and to explore what it is you'd rather be doing. So what are your hopes and dreams for the future? What are the changes you'd like to make in the year ahead? They could be big, they could be small or a mixture of both.
What's important about what you'd rather be doing?
Here's the million-dollar question. Why? Because it should give you a compelling enough reason to commit to the change you say you want to make. If it's important enough for you, you'll do it. You'll find a way. If it's not that important, it'll drop to the bottom of your to do list. Simple as. This is exactly the reason why many New Year's resolutions fail - because they're not important or compelling enough for us to want to stick to them: "Yeah, I know I said I need to lose a couple of pounds but hey, I can still get into my jeans, so who's really going to notice if I have another slice of cake?" Or: "I know I said I really need to change my job this year, but I really fancy that trip to Australia & New Zealand so maybe I'll wait a bit."
By exploring and stating what's important to you about the change you're planning to make, you're a) creating a compelling reason to reach your goal and b) giving yourself a stronger chance to stick with it because you're now aware of how important it is to you. Remember, there needs to be an important and compelling enough reason behind what you'd rather be doing for you to see it through.
So what are you waiting for? Find some time to work through the questions above and let me know how you get on. Either comment below or visit here. I'm curious to find out how this changes the way you go about your New Year's resolutions!