The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back as early as the Babylonian times. While the success rate of ancient resolutions is largely unknown, a large percentage of the resolutions of modern times tend to be unsuccessful. Taking on too many resolutions or setting unrealistic goals are common reasons why people do not achieve their goals.
The good news is, there are many ways to improve our lives and succeed with our New Year’s resolutions. Through my own experiences and those with patients, I have identified a few factors for successfully following through with our goals.
1. Cultivate self-appreciation
Most New Year's resolutions involve self-improvement. So why is it that we have difficulty following through with things that benefit our lives? As a doctor, I have observed a lack of self-appreciation to be the most common reason people are unsuccessful in achieving any goal at any time of the year. It’s impossible to prioritize ourselves without a foundation of self-worth. This lack of self-love is often subconscious and can sabotage our lives without us knowing it. Try to get in touch with a place deep within you in which you can feel total love for yourself. This is the place where you will find the limitless drive to improve your life.
2. Make a daily self-commitment
While it’s always exciting to start off the New Year with new goals, it’s just as easy to talk without follow-through. Whenever one of my patients tells me, “I’m waiting until after the holidays to <insert goal here>,” I always respond , “Why wait to do something that benefits your life?” Procrastination is another form of self-sabotage, and, in turn, a sign of not appreciating ourselves. We all deserve to prioritize ourselves everyday, and not just at the beginning of the year.
3. Identify your intentions
What are the reasons for your goals? Do you want to quit smoking because someone else wants you to? Are you trying to lose weight to impress someone else? Goals that involve changing for someone else never last. You may not elicit the response you had hoped from the other party, but most importantly you have neglected the most important person: you. It all goes back to self-appreciation. Set goals that involve your heartfelt decision, not someone else’s, and you will find that you will not only feel much happier but also be more successful in your endeavors.
“Life is not a list of check boxes.”
4. Intention vs. Resolutions
The word “resolution” has somewhat of a strict connotation, and often implies that there is something that needs to be fixed within a set time frame. This is why I like to set intentions. I write a list of things I intend to accomplish. I prioritize my list and try my best to achieve my goals. I’m not trying to fix anything, because in reality, I’m not broken. I’m an imperfectly perfect human who won’t be able to accomplish everything I set out to exactly when I want to, but in time I will in wonderful ways I had never imagined.
5. Enjoy the process
Life is not a list of check boxes. It’s easy to think ahead to the results without enjoying the present moment. How often have you reached your goal and either hurt yourself in the process or felt like what you achieved wasn’t good enough? Delayed gratification allows us to relish the process, which may lead us on a different but more fulfilling path. Life isn’t about how skinny, rich, or accomplished you are. It’s the journey that occurs in each moment that is most important.
You are the most important person of your life and the positive life changes you make benefit everyone around you. The time to start your All Year's Intentions is now.
Aunna Pourang, MD is a board-certified family physician who practices integrative medicine in Santa Monica, CA. She incorporates her knowledge of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and nutrition with conventional Western medicine to address the root causes of symptoms and to help heal the mind, body, and spirit. Dr. Pourang is also the author of Meditate don’t Medicate: A 14 Day Journey of Letting Go and Finding Yourself and blogs about health and happiness on her website www.draunna.com.
Lotus East-West Medical Center
2222 Santa Monica Blvd, Ste 105
Santa Monica, CA 90404
T: (310) 828-8258