December/January is naturally a time of reflection and resetting. As you reflect on the year gone and the year ahead, I encourage you to do so with grace, gratitude and kindness – both for yourself and those around you.
Ask yourself: What did I do well? What did I learn? What am I grateful for?
When looking back we apply the benefits of hindsight to past events and experiences. Although this is a natural part of learning it’s also important that we don’t continuously beat ourselves (and others) up for things been and gone.
Sometimes we make mistakes, trip up or struggle to sustain desired changes. It’s ok. We’re all human. In the long run setbacks can help us generate greater clarity and determination around what’s important to us and a deeper appreciation for what we already have. They are part of what it means to learn, grow and live a meaningful life.
It’s also important to remember all the good stuff we’ve achieved and celebrate the positive elements in our lives. Our power is in the choices we make with what we’ve learnt.
Start where you’re at. To move forward you need to understand, acknowledge and accept where you’re at today. Be honest with yourself and establish your current reality.
Dream big, act small. We tend to underestimate what we can achieve in a year and overestimate what we can achieve in a day or a week. Break your dreams and goals down into manageable pieces and then focus on identifying small actions that move you towards them. If something feels overwhelming, then break it down further. Put your focus onto changing routines, habits and behaviours that are within your control to change.
Be kind and patient with your future self. Meaningful goals and real lifestyle change takes hard work, persistence and experimentation. Failing multiple times doesn’t mean you won’t eventually get there. Multifaceted lifestyle change often requires moving a combination of emotional, mental, physical and environmental elements in the right direction. This often feels like one step forward and two steps back.
Create identity change. Lifestyle change isn’t about ticking a box or achieving a specific outcome. It’s about changing part of who you are and committing to the long haul. For example, if you lose weight, improve your fitness, stop drinking or develop a new work skill you’re not actually “done” with these elements! They require our ongoing attention and focus in order to maintain them. Everyday we make choices (conscious and unconscious) to be this person and live this lifestyle.
Embrace your current awesomeness. It can be tempting to get lured into the “New Year, New Me” sentiment. Make the most of the fresh energy and motivation a New Year can bring, however remember you’re already doing a bunch of things well. You’re not starting from a blank canvas. Think about how you could use your current strengths in the year ahead.
Create time and space. If you’re committing to living differently in the year ahead then think about where the time, energy and focus will come from. How will you make time for what matters to you?
Celebrate consistency. Real lifestyle change is not sudden, easy or glamorous. It requires you to change/replace old behaviours with new ones and then repeat the same stuff day in and day out. Consistency is key and every small sustained change is worth celebrating!
Jade is a Lifestyle Coach and Organisational Development Consultant living in Auckland, New Zealand.