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  • Cheree McCallon

MINDFUL RESOLUTIONS TO RING IN THE NEW YEAR

New Year’s Day naturally offers a sense of renewal by providing a space to reflect on the past year and provides a clean slate for continued personal growth. When the slate is wiped clean, you tend to feel reenergized to work towards your goals and aspirations.

However, according to studies by the University of Scranton, the most common New Year’s resolutions tend to be unattainable. Approximately 40% of people will resolve to make big changes this year. 92% of the resolutions made will be abandoned, many within the first 30 days of the year. There are a few of reasons for this:

  • First, it takes longer than expected to kick a bad habit or adopt a good one. I am sure that you have heard the saying, “it takes 21 days to create a habit.” However, recent studies show it takes 66 days on average before a new habit becomes automatic.

  • Second, people tend to make a long list of big habits they want to change, such as losing weight, saving more money, not smoking, or finding a better job. Each of these resolutions requires considerable effort and it is easy to become overwhelmed when attempting them all at once.

  • Third, there is an underlying societal pressure to make New Year’s resolutions, even if the motivation to make the changes necessary to achieve them is not present. Resolving to make lifestyle changes requires mental, physical, and emotional energy that does not magically appear because it is a new year. Being unsuccessful in accomplishing the resolution can then lead to feelings of failure.

While the new year can be a great reminder to recommit to your best self and reflect on a better future, why not approach this year’s resolutions in a less-pressured, mindful way.


Mindfulness is a Practice of Being Present.


The practice of mindfulness is best summarized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD as “An awareness arising from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.” Within the concept of mindfulness, there are three main components:

  • Intention – choosing to cultivate your awareness.

  • Attention – to the present moment, sensations, and thoughts.

  • Attitude – being kind, curious, and non-judgmental.

Although mindfulness is rooted in the present, it provides you the skills to handle what the future holds. When you practice mindfulness, you become more self-aware. As you become more attuned to your feelings and what is important to you, it empowers you to embody these values as you step forward into the future. This year, by incorporating these three components of mindfulness into your New Year’s resolution, you allow yourself to create resolutions that will have lasting change from a place of compassion, growth, and grace. Below is a simple guide to help you on your way.


7 Steps to Mindfulness Based Resolutions

1. Set aside some time to explore your intentions and resolutions for the upcoming year.

2. Pause for a moment, practice mindful breathing, and bring your awareness to the here and now.

3. Reflect on what is truly important to you. For example, maybe your resolution is to lose weight this year. Now, think about what the intention is behind the resolution. Is it to nourish your body? No matter what the surface resolution is, there is a deeper core value that is speaking. Take time to listen and honor to what your authentic self is saying.

4. Solidify your intentions and resolutions. Return to your mindful breathing, hold your intentions and resolutions in your mind’s eye, and repeat it to yourself a handful of times.

5. Check in with thoughts. In a non-judgmental way, observe any conflicting thoughts that may arise. Maybe you notice a thought that says living your intention or sticking with your resolution will be too difficult. Bring your awareness back to your core value and ground yourself through mindful breathing, recognizing that these thoughts will ebb and flow, and let them go.

6. Reaffirm your intentions and resolutions through words. Write it down daily as a reminder to stay focused. Journal your experiences, exploring your practice of intention, attention, and attitude. Create a short mantra that resonates with your intentions, such as “self-love” or “courage” to carry with you throughout the year. Connect and share your experiences with loved ones.

7. Cultivate Self-Compassion and Patience. As you maneuver through this year with your mindful intentions and resolutions, allow space for stumbling along the way. Honor where you are on the journey and remember to be kind to yourself.

As you head into 2023, remember that self-transformation begins with self-awareness. The practice of mindfulness allows for you to focus on being present for yourself and your loved ones, cherishing the journey and not stressing over the destination. Psychologist, Barbara DeAngelis sums it up best by saying, “The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place”.


By: Cheree McCallon

LCSW, CRAADC


References:

1. Norcross JC, Vangarelli DJ. The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts. J Subst Abuse. 1988-1989;1(2):127-34. doi: 10.1016/s0899-3289(88)80016-6. PMID: 2980864.[1]

2. Kabat-Zinn J. Bringing mindfulness to medicine: an interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. Interview by Karolyn Gazella. Adv Mind Body Med. 2005 Summer;21(2):22-7. PMID: 16170903.[2]

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