January 10, 2011

How to make New Year resolutions stick

HOW many of us start the new year with resolutions—go on a diet, exercise more often, read a book once a month, etc.—only to drop them midway out of neglect, difficulty, or because we were overrun with other responsibilities?

We can make up a lot of excuses to justify why we weren’t able to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, but all it is really is—admit it—plain laziness and a lack of determination. I am a believer in willpower and that being able to accomplish a task we’ve set out for ourselves is just a function of how serious we are in our goals in the first place.

Of course, I’ve quit on a number of resolutions a few times before, and I have no one to blame but myself. (So now I don’t make any, hehehe.) But I understand why people continue to make them. We just want to improve ourselves—to drop a bad habit, or embark on a good one maybe for health purposes. Our long-term goal, of course, being the best of who we can be.

So for those who still believe in making New Year’s resolutions, here are a few tips from The Source Asia on how to create powerful New Year’s intentions, which I quote from liberally:

"Tip 1: Set believable intentions. Make sure you set intentions, which you can honestly see becoming your reality in 2011. It’s not possible to create something unless you truly believe—not just wish—it can happen. Therefore, don’t focus on those impossible to reach intentions, which might just leave you feeling disappointed in the end. If you do have a ' way out there' desire but you don’t believe it can happen in a year, break it down and see what you do believe you can create in 2011.

Tip 2: Clarity=Power. When you are clear about what you want and you set an intention, everything will move to support you in its manifestation. Being clear doesn’t mean getting into the specifics, though (See #3, Let go of the 'How').

Be clear in your own heart, mind and being that 'You want This' and 'It is Time'. That’s the kind of clarity that moves mountains.

Choose intentions that are more like a choice, even if it seems like quite a stretch, a choice that you are making for yourself, fully expecting the universe to back you up and help bring to you as your reality.

Tip 3: Let go of the How. If you really want intentions that have a better chance of becoming your reality, forget about the how'. Leave the 'how' up to the universe. Even if you can see a lot of the 'how' or yourself, allow space for the mystery, the wonder and synchronicity to bring you what you want in a way you couldn’t even dream of. Choose your intentions to focus on what you really want and hand the “how” over to the Universe.

Tip 4: Write down your 2011 intentions. Take some time to write down your 2011 intentions, and post them somewhere around you, so you can focus on them throughout the year.

Tip 5: Write out your 2011 intentions in the present tense. Write out your intentions as if they are your reality today, if you see it as something happening one day' it will forever be in the future.

You can even go a step further and act as if you’re intention has already manifested itself in your reality. You will be attracting the vibration that you need to be in for the intention to become reality.”

* * * *

As we can see, it takes a clear sense of purpose and a hard focus on the resolution, as if you’ve already done it.

When we understand perfectly why we are resolving to do something—like say, quit smoking—it makes it easier for us to attain the goal. If we quit smoking just because someone else asks us to do it, we won’t be successful in dropping the nasty habit.

But if we truly understand deep in our heart that the habit will make us sick and die, and, even worse, affect the health of our loved ones, the thought of quitting smoking becomes more embraceable. It first has to be clear in our mind the importance of respecting one’s body and the health of others.

We also must overcome the fear of failure. Not trying to stop a bad habit just because it’s difficult or we think we will botch it, means we have already lost even before we started. It helps to have a positive attitude about ourselves and visualize our success.

We shouldn’t even say, for instance, “I am going to quit smoking in the New Year.” Say, “I’ve quit smoking.” Words are very powerful; just saying your resolution in such a manner, where there is explicit determination, is already the first step in making it happen.

They say it takes 21 days to form a good habit (or drop a bad one), so we have to make sure to remind ourselves of what we’re trying to accomplish. It may sound childish but it does help to write down little note cards using permanent markers with the statement, “I’ve quit smoking” and post them in conspicuous places in your home and at the office.

Once we’ve quit smoking, try to not hang around friends who do. (I quit smoking sometime in the mid-’90s. I just did so cold turkey, and have never looked back.) Now when when I go out and chill with my Mama and her best friend at a café, for instance, they sit outside the establishment drinking their coffee al fresco, while I have my coffee and dessert inside. They don’t mind because they know I’m allergic to smoke, and I don’t mind either. Besides, I’m the one sitting with the air conditioning, while they’re out there sweating it out and reeking of cigarette smoke. Eeek. Gross. So why should I complain?

Besides a real friend would always respect one’s boundaries. If a friend continues to light up in front of us when he knows we’ve already quit smoking, then he is no friend at all. A person who doesn’t care about our well-being and continues to tempt us into taking up our horrible habit again should be avoided at all cost.

Ask help from others if needed. If we are having some difficulty in sticking to our resolution, ask our friends and family members to give us positive encouragement. Or maybe, we can also seek professional help, as in the case of those who need to go on a diet or quit something more potent than cigarettes.

Needless to say, no one can force us to make good on our New Year’s resolutions. In trying to improve ourselves in the new year, we are the only ones who can determine whether we are, first of all, ready to make the change, and second, if we have the tenacity to stick to it.

Here’s wishing everyone the best of 2011. May we all have the best of health, peace and prosperity in the new year and beyond!

(Originally published in the BusinessMirror, Jan. 7, 2011. My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life Section of the paper. Photo from www.files32.com.)


Ninoy said...

hi ma'am,

happy new year!
it's been a while.
missed a lot of your posts.

hmmm..., new site design!

your articles still never fail me to chuckle.
enjoyed reading them.

Stella Arnaldo said...

Thanks for the kind words, Ninoy. All the best for 2011! ;p