Imagine you are walking in the dark along a foggy path using a flashlight. The path ahead is lit up, so you don’t stray off course. The fog represents your past and future and the challenges of your everyday world. They have no importance in this moment. The flashlight is your conscious presence. The lit path represents being in the present moment. When you learn how to step into the timeless world of Being, you are better able to navigate the storms of your outer world.
We all start each new year off with good intentions, yet studies show that while 50% of people are initially optimistic about their goals, only 12% actually fulfill them. If you’re part of the other 88% there is still time to transform those resolutions into reality. I’d like to share 10 steps based on current brain research to get you on the pathway to achieving what you truly want.
The root of the word resolution, or resolve, originates with the Latin “resolvere,” which means to unfasten, loosen, release. In order to hold our goals firm and steadfast to their ultimate resolution, we also must remove the obstacles that prevent them from manifesting. Beyond the specific intention or goal is our “heartfelt desire,” which motivates and fuels us to keep us moving toward the goal.
1. Prepare your mind:
If you haven’t already done so, quickly write down the first 10 goals that pop into your mind. Once you’ve completed this process – tear it up. Really! This clears your mind of old ideas or beliefs tied to old behaviors. Then get up and stretch, shake your body and walk around the room. Finally, sit down and
YAWN…..several times! This helps you to create a beginners mind allowing you to tune into your insight and intuition. Studies show these techniques provide the best way to calm an over active mind and heighten consciousness.
2. What is your heart’s deepest desire?
Take time to open your heart to find what you truly care about and what matters to you. Continue questioning and see what words or phrases bubble up from the heart. Repeat them silently and aloud. Continue to do this for a week until you have it fully formulated with a heart-felt sense of what matters to you.
3. Select goals
Based on your deepest heart’s desire, ask yourself, “What are three deepest desires or goals that I can realistically achieve by the end of the year?” Not just what you desire, but what you know you have the wherewithal to fulfill. This is one of the most important questions you can ask as it changes the nature of your resolutions or goals based on a deeper purpose aligned with the real you.
4. Make a commitment
For each goal ask, “Am I 100 percent willing to commit to achieving this goal?” If there any doubts, simplify or modify it.
5. Envision your resolutions or goals
With your Heartfelt Desire in mind, examine each goal addressing:
* Good things that will happen as a result of the goal
– vision of a clear and positive outcome
* One or two obstacles that could get in the way.
* Counter strategies to address the obstacles to resolve them and release them.
Record this on small cards as a visual commitment. Also, create a vision board filling a poster board with words and pictures representing the outcomes you envision. Display this strategically along with your vision cards. Allow yourself to really feel this outcome from a visceral sense. Keep your vision in its feeling alive in your consciousness by reflecting on it regularly.
“We become what we think about all day long.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
6. Share your vision or goal
Tell many people about your goal – those you trust who have your best interests in mind. Then find an accountability partner who can help you stay the course and offer encouragement when you might falter.
7. Write a detailed plan
Include step-by-step tactics you will undertake with specific dates to reach each stage of the plan. Then share it with others and accountability partner and brainstorm to make it better.
8. Keep a journal
Begin each day recording three things you are grateful for. This sets up a positive attitude for the day. At the end of the day record three things you did well, and explain why. Make this your Gratitude and Accomplishment Journal – a great reflection tool to help you stay in harmony with the outcome you seek.
9. Increase your Positivity Ratio
Research has shown that when you are able to counter each negative expression you have been using in your life with three positive ones, your life will change for the better. Five or ten positives will transform your life.
10. Reward Yourself
Plan a small “prize” for accomplishing any part of a goal at the end of each week. Don’t beat yourself up even if you did nothing. Crush pessimism and self-doubt quickly with positive words. Be kind to yourself. There’s always another week ahead. We often take steps backwards as we are moving forwards.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter how long it takes to reach your goal.
Keep your focus on your Heartfelt Desire.
Our New Year’s resolutions of starting over and embarking on a healthier, wiser path often tend to fade when we discover how difficult it is to change our behaviors. Yet we do have the ability to rewire our circuitry—our patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors—by engaging IRS’s positive change agents (Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion) and linking them to the powering force of OM (One-pointed Mind). Let’s explore this.
We are born with powerful patterns in our brain circuitry—mental, emotional, neural, physical, and behavioral. From those patterns, along with our early conditioning, habits are formed. Once negative habits or misperceived patterns of anger or mistrust are firmly established, we have almost no choice but to continually repeat them.
The good news is that science has discovered that the brain is malleable and can be rewired through neuroplasticity. It has the ability to regenerate and change and is capable of creating both flexible and rigid behaviors, good and bad. We can release outmoded beliefs and behaviors, change the way we think, respond and act in our lives to help us manifest goals, and thrive with more joy and fulfillment.
OM: One-pointed Mind
Our minds by nature are many-pointed. Our senses, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are working constantly, pulling our attention in many directions. A focused mind helps us connect to our True Self or Higher Power to regenerate and create new neural pathways. This process of rewiring enables us to move beyond a perpetual treadmill existence. Meditation and yoga (including chanting OM) are systems that help us train the mind, allowing us to make this deep connection.
I: Intention paves the way
A powerful first step in the rewiring process of our neural pathways is in creating and holding intentions. You may have the desire to lose weight, find a new job or a new relationship, or grow your business. However, for long-lasting change, it’s important not only to put a specific target on each intention—such as ten pounds or increasing sales by 30%—but to delve inside for a deeper desire and motivation for your life to support your intentions.
Sit quietly and inquire into your True Self for your deepest desire – what you truly value, care about and love. Feel your desire as though it’s already happening. The mind knows no past or future, only the present.
Keep your mind one-pointed by starting each day or each endeavor aimed at achieving your goal tuned in to your heartfelt intention. Self-discipline then becomes a natural outpouring of this process as the desire to achieve your intention creates its own neural pathway.
R: Repetition creates the link
Repetition, such as with affirmations, is an important key for creating new patterns in the brain and furthering the intention process. Mohammed Ali constantly recited rhyming couplets as though they were mantras, and then topped it off with a self-affirming, “I am the greatest!”
Clinical psychologist and integrative yoga therapist Bo Forbes found that Repetition with only 15–30 minutes of twice-weekly breathing exercises and restorative yoga, her clients became more emotionally settled. In her book, Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practice to Relieve Anxiety and Depression Forbes writes that the nervous system, the body, and the practicing of patterns are primary agents of neuroplasticity. Calming the body through a body-centered practice, such as yoga, chi, or meditation creates a foundation for the creation of new patterns.
S: Self-compassion fortifies
Achieving long-lasting change requires more than self-discipline. It’s important not to beat yourself up after a few unsuccessful tries at changing habits or behaviors. You need to repeat and repeat and repeat a thought or act in order for the pathways to coalesce, allowing for the positive change to begin.
When self-criticism, self-judgment, or self-doubt does surface, understand that being hard on yourself makes you less resilient after setbacks and more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Practicing self-compassion helps to strengthen and fortify your desire. It’s about caring and wanting the best for yourself, wanting to heal, be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Using your one-pointed mind along with consistent repetition of your deepest desire helps your brain to create new pathways for positive, long-lasting change.
Let the awaking energy of spring’s new life invigorate you as you practice Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion with a One-pointed Mind to help produce positive change.
~ Read full article from this adaptation in March/April 2011 Yoga Chicago
Every January we talk about abolishing old habits, starting new healthier ones and moving in a direction of greater success and fulfillment. We can’t recreate a new past. The past is over and must be laid to rest. Yet we do have the ability to chart a course along a different path than the one we may be currently traveling along – resulting in a new and better destination.
I believe that we are most fulfilled and successful in life when we are living in sync with our true self – that heartfelt part of us that longs to express our deepest passions and desires.
I’m not referring to what we want to attract materially. People, opportunities and material things that match our true nature are all attracted to us with greater ease when we are deeply in tune with and expressing from our authentic self. Yet, often that true self is buried under debris represented by physical, emotional and mental clutter related to the past.
I’m mostly concerned with what you really care about in life, what creates meaning and what can sustain, inspire and motivate you for the rest of your life.
Currently I’m helping a friend shovel out her home that has borderline “hoarder” signs hanging throughout. In our first session I was amazed, yet proud of her own inspired desire to donate about two-thirds of her clothes, most which represented the past, particularly an old career from which she had been downsized. This is an enormous step for her toward letting go of plenty of emotional and mental debris as well – and thus reclaiming her life and welcoming all the blessings it will bring to her.
Take a moment to reflect on where you want to be 20 years from now. Dream a new dream, create an intention for where you want to be at the end of the year. Even better, how you want to live the rest of your life. Begin this process by inquiring into your heart:
Close your eyes and feel into your body.Open all your senses …..your mouth, ears, nose, eyes……. Feel a radiance in the palms of your hands and feet and throughout the body….. Now go to your heart. Dive in and inquire into your heart’s deepest longing or yearning. Bring it to the forefront and see, feel and taste what that is……Create a phrase that expresses this desire, as though it is already happening….. Use this to formulate your intention for the coming year….and for your life in general.
“Let yourself be silently drawn
by what you really love” – Rumi
Once an intention is established, it’s much easier to chart your course with all the stops along the way. Yet the intention and the charted course must be mindfully part of your daily experience in order to keep you on track.
We need more people living in sync with their true nature – mindful, authentic, compassionate and joyful. We need YOU to express the best of your self in the world.
Won’t you join me and others in playing your role in making the world a better place?
Join me also for two powerful opportunities in February and March to help you live more in sync – let go of the past, overcome blocks, chart your intentions and journey down more harmonious pathways:
I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Drop me a line and share what you most care about, what inspires as well as challenges you.
May your pathways be filled with harmony and delight!