Getting the most out of 2014, effective reflection for resolutions that lead to reinvention!
The end of one year and the start of another is an interesting time for many of us. It’s a point in the year when we use reflection to formulate new year’s resolutions. We are simultaneously looking back whilst at the same time looking forward.
With New year’s resolutions comes the fear of that inevitable day when they all fall flat. So what goes wrong? Why is this road to failure paved with so many good intentions? The team at iRise embarked on a project in November to analyse some of the psychological processes involved in new year’s resolutions. We have come up with some ideas we think may help you keep the momentum and make your resolutions stick.
When you look back, make sure you acknowledge how far you have come. More often we tend to have our minds looking forward, focusing on what we want and still haven’t got. This can generate a certain amount of anxiety about the future. We question our ability to achieve what we want, the work that will have to go into achieving our goals, and the paralysing fear of failure. When you look back on the year that is ending you are being reflective. As psychologists we are all about being reflective. However this time, instead of looking back and then looking to the future, look at where you are now in the present. Very often we involve ourselves in what we don’t have and what we didn’t achieve, forming a narrative of failure in our heads. But if we take the time to really look at where we are now as suppose to where we were last year, you will begin to see the hidden progress you have actually made. This can be incredibly motivating and reassuring, and will go a long way to helping you push forward and stick to your resolutions in 2014!
Stay Present. We can’t stress how important this is. Contrary to what we have been told, we can only really do one thing at a time. That’s one of the reasons that the NTSB reports that texting while driving is the functional equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. You just can’t effectively attend to two things at once – even the superficially automatic ones. So whatever you are doing, do it wholeheartedly. Flow: The Psychology of Happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is now something of a classic work of popular psychology and perhaps more relevant now than ever before. The book’s protagonistic idea of “Flow” – mindful challenge – reinforces the idea that living more present is the key to optimum psychological well-being. It is a skill that is not easy to achieve, there are bills that will need paying, kids to collect from school, but with practice can really pay dividens and help keep you focused on goals and resolutions. Living in the past as we all now is hugely detrimental and all we can do is change our present relationship with it. Just as with the future, the best we can do is set our intention, but it is what we do in the present that leads us toward that destination. Mindfulness and meditation are a great way to learn to be in the present. Our mindfulness courses are an effective way of bearing witness to the present, reliveing stress, The mind must flow like the breath if we are to remain constantly and consistently present in the moment and not mired in the past or at the sufferance of anticipating the future.
Overcoming the fear of failure. The fear of failure is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for not committing to our resolutions or achieving our goals. We can’t recommend enough this fascinating TEDx talk by Jonathan Fields, a former private equity attorney turned lifestyle-entrepreneur. He gives an inspiring talk on how to “turn fear from a source of anxiety and paralysis into fuel for action and achievement.” You can view the talk from 2010 below.
Reinvention. In summary, if you bring the 2013 version of yourself into 2014 hoping things will change, you may be in for disappointment. To create a different outcome, you need to do, or be something different. Resolutions sometimes make us focus on superficial changes. You need to look at what blocks or baggage you are bringing with you into the new year, that will be slowing you down just as much as they did in previous years. This could include a scarcity mindset, the narrative that tells us we don’t have enough time, or enough money etc. Let this go by reinventing yourself from the inside out, focusing on how resourceful you can be. Maybe you have fallen into the blame game, where responsibility for failure always lies with someone or something else, creating an emotional impotence. Eradicate this mindset by taking more leadership over your life, asking yourself how can I make this better. Or are you like so many affected by the silent killer procrastination? Is your preparation really just a softer word for procrastination? Stop putting off until tomorrow what you can do now! Reinvent yourself to become a person of action! We hope you can take some of these ideas and apply them to your life in the new year. We are sure they can help you succeed in your new year’s resolutions and any other personal goals you wish to achieve. Let us know how you get on!