To be honest, I’ve long abandoned the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Being born with a brain that’s wired for a short attention span and lacking in organizational skills, I am challenged by simple tasks which I resolve to complete on a daily basis: being sure I arrive at appointments on time, having gas in my car, and did I remember to bring my iPad? Additionally, my brain is now deficit in attention and almost 50. The determination, willpower and stamina involved (or so I would imagine) in ‘sticking to’ resolutions made on January 1 come January 10th, or 20th or (wow! is it possible!) into February is mind boggling to me. Like space traveling; I know incredible human beings make it happen all the time; how they do so is a true wonderment to me.
For myself, and for some of the rest of us, I would like to propose a change in focus this year, and one that I have come to find very useful. Resolve to focus more on the present and live each day to the fullest. I could resolve , on January 5th, to exercise for 40 minutes every morning; but how can I know how I’ll be feeling on the morning of January 6th or January 12th? Resolve to live each day in the moment. Attempting to pre-determine your action/behavior on some future date can be limiting and is often a set-up for failure. I have come to learn that I don’t have to make grand statements or decisions about the future; I choose to focus on the present and live life as it occurring. Taking action based on the here and now, in the present, is empowering. It takes practice for sure and can be scary to think about, but that’s the beauty inherent in the approach. You don’t have to think about it!
Next, consider some of the values that are important to you and then ask yourself, if someone were to spy on me for a few days, would they be able to identify them? For example, some potential areas might be: having a job and money; loving and being loved; making my own decisions; self-respect; freedom; having no legal problems; good health; religion & spirituality; family; good friends. Let’s say my top two are ‘good health’ and ‘family.’ The spy follows me for 3 days. What he observes is: I eat junk food, I lay on my couch, my mom calls me repeatedly and I refuse to pick up the phone. In this case, clearly, while I am identifying good health and family as the two most important values in my life, my behavior clearly is NOT in line with what is most important to me.
So, why suggest this exercise?
When we act in ways that are contrary to our core beliefs or values, our emotional systems will often act up in one way or another. We may begin to feel like something is ‘just not right’ though we’re not exactly sure why or what’s wrong. At times. we lose sight of the things we truly value. Other demands, pressures, stress, or who knows what pulls us to act in ways contrary from the things that are truly important to us. This simple exercise is a great little tool to use as a reminder. Use it as a self-check in; am I using my time in ways that align with things that are truly important to me? If not, adjust accordingly.