This year’s habits create next year’s milestones

I don’t know about you, but I tend to roll my eyes at New Year’s resolutions. They can seem all noble and attractive, but like that shallow, pompous but attractive guy from high school, they can be pretty vacuous, and even make you feel bad about yourself. They’re also not going anywhere. A resolution without a plan isn’t worth your time.

But I have nothing but respect for charting a new course to do things differently.

This time of year, between the winter solstice, my birthday (39!), and the New Year, I like to follow that inward pull of the season and take time to reflect, to assess whether my actions line up with my values, and to figure out what I need to do differently to be in alignment.

Here’s how my 2015 went down: my goals, and what I did to achieve them, and why I wasn’t successful with others.

Goal: Treat myself with greater compassion

Strategies:

  • Stopped going to yoga classes because I was aggravating my lower back (I had been going 4-6 days/ week)
  • Racked up over 160 barre3 fitness classes (think Pilates, free weights, and an emphasis on working muscles until they shake) to alter the balance of strength and flexibility in my body
  • Practiced a slow, unimpressive-looking yoga / qi gong hybrid at home
  • Made strides in altering life-long patterns of self-recrimination with my bodymind self-compassion practice
  • Continued to add more humanely-raised meat to my diet after nearly 30 years of vegetarianism, in response to clues from my body
  • Stopped weighing myself, as that number only inflamed my inner critic and isn’t really a metric I care about anymore
  • Came into greater integrity with my body’s energy by getting to bed earlier
  • Increased my average meditation practice time by ten minutes
  • Made this list so I could actually see what I’ve accomplished

Goal: Spend quality time with those I love

Strategies:

  • For the first time in years, made most of my travel family and friend-oriented, rather than trips to go study or teach
  • Helped my sister with the birth of her first baby (2 days after she’d moved into her new house)
  • Weekly date-night with my amazing husband
  • Weekly date-night with a close friend
  • Stopped going back to work after dinner so I could be available for my step-kids (except when necessary for my sanity)
  • Gigs (and the occasional practice!) with the Hunks, the guys I play music with

Goal: help more people feel better by sharing what I know

Strategies:

Goal: Become a better teacher

Strategies:

  • Enrolled in a 3-month class on how to teach and develop classes
  • Continued teaching classes and listening to feedback (see above)

Goal: Show up authentically and strategically in my online business

Strategies:

  • Enrolled in a 4-month course on how to do that
  • Attended a conference of hundreds of heart-centered entrepreneurs
  • Started to share more videos and more personal emails with you

Goal: Deepen my knowledge of Chinese Medicine

Strategies:

  • Earned a certification in AromaAcupoint Therapy (Levels 1 & 2)
  • Spent at least an hour each week reading medical texts

Habits I didn’t succeed in changing include:

  • Looking at my phone first thing in the morning, before I have a chance to connect with myself
  • Checking work email from home
  • Wasting too much of my most productive hours on social media

I also didn’t start my podcast. I still have much more work to do around not identifying with how much I accomplish. I could be doing more to support my body and its ongoing challenges like back pain (by doing less overall). I didn’t email you as often as I had planned, out of fear of your judgments – that you’ll think I’m too self-promotional, too preachy, too out there, or too whatever.

I didn’t succeed in changing these things because I didn’t have a clear plan as to how to execute them. I didn’t commit to these new behaviors, figure out how to hold myself accountable, and how to motivate myself to do them.

Changing the way you’ve been living is hard. Our habits have the force of all the past momentum behind them. It takes a solid intention, a new strategy, support, and substitution strategies to overcome the force of habit.

So how about you? Who do you want to be in 2016? And what changes in your daily life do you need to make in order to bring your actions into alignment with your deepest values? How will you know when you’ve achieved your goals? How will you remind yourself of your goal, and how will you reward yourself? Who will support you along the way? Remember, a goal without a plan isn’t worth making.

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