Don’t make resolutions, make habits – turning vision into real actions
With the new year we are apprehensive and hopeful of what 2022 will bring for all of us. For the last two years Melbourne residents have been coping with unexpected circumstances brought about by the pandemic. It has indeed been a challenge on striking a balance between isolating ourselves and maintaining a positive attitude. Like a new opportunity or new relationship, a new year brings unlimited possibilities to do something positive and genuinely adding quality to our lives.
Resolutions Vs. Habits
Have you frantically tried to make resolutions to improve and discipline your lifestyle and failed miserably after a few days? The easiest way to make this work is to convert your resolution into a regular habit. Resolutions are like short-term investments and creating habits is like a long-term stable investment.
Habits are defined as the usual way of behaving. It is only one focused action that creates a good habit and opens the gate to subsequent future good actions. To inculcate new habits such that they become our default responses we need to practice the desired behavior regularly and frequently.
Replace old habits
Ever tried developing good habits without giving up old habits? It’s hard to stop something without replacing that activity with another. One of the best ways to develop a new habit is to combine it with an existing action. For example, if you want to get into the habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, try adding more raw foods to your breakfast or lunch.
Past memories create strong impressions which make changing habits or sticking to resolutions even more difficult. For example, you may decide to decrease the use of electronic media after 9 pm but the only way you know to relax before bed is watching television. Looking at other possible ways to wind down before bed time such as reading an interesting book, listening to music will help avoiding social media.
Build a support system
Proximity to a suitable environment and like-minded people are other important factors to be able to maintain our resolutions. For example, if you resolve to exercise everyday then you will be able to create the habit of an active lifestyle if you:
- Find a place close to home
- Create a music playlist for exercise
- Find an exercise buddy
- Schedule exercise in your routine.
With important lifestyle changes it is necessary to communicate with our friends and family about what and why we are doing it. Self-confidence is very important where you suspect some push back from your loved ones for the new habit you are trying to cultivate. The reason why you chose to make a particular change is because you felt the need for it. To always remember the perspective in which you are making this change will give you more will power to stick to your goals and not give up due to initial criticism.
Create a plan of action
Setting achievable targets for developing good habits is the way to success in changing our lifestyle. A positive attitude plays a very important role in the shaping of our coming days and achieving our goals. Gratitude for all the wonderful things we have received, acceptance of unpleasant circumstances, optimism even in difficult situations, all help us to develop a positive attitude.
Failure is a part of learning. If you fail to keep up with your new habit for any reason, or simply feel lethargic or demotivated, focus on the positive results of persevering the new habit. Remind yourself of what you are missing out on if you don’t carry out that particular action. Understanding the triggers that keep us away or demotivate us from sticking to our new habits will prove more useful in the long run.
Find inspiration for ongoing motivation
Actions speak louder than words. A person’s good qualities make an impact on another’s heart. Observing other positive people makes us want to emulate their qualities. One powerful way to do this is to write the name of the quality that we desire to cultivate and keep them close to our personal space where we can read them, meditate on them and think of practical ways in which we can imbibe them in our personalities.
This year a healthier diet, regular exercise, regular meditation, spending time close to nature, working on my relationships, and cultivating gratefulness are on my list of habits to cultivate. If you are thinking of cultivating any of these good habits the Hare Krishna temple in Melbourne offers support through programs like weekly mantra meditation classes and many spiritual retreats throughout the year.