I’ve never been very good at keeping New Year’s Resolutions, and I have a feeling I am not alone in this regard. Many a January first has gone by with me having the best of intentions. I will eat more fruits and vegetables…I will gain 10 lbs of muscle…I will play the piano every day…I will be better about calling my family…I will stop yelling at my kids, and, a favorite and recurrent theme, I will begin a daily meditation practice and stick with it.
Though I have often done well for a few weeks, I didn’t often have great success. I know why, of course. As any good wellness coach knows, lasting change comes only when proper motivation, preparation and support has been put in place. If I look at the things I have accomplished in life, they have all been because I have been motivated by fear of failure (i.e. academics), or a true passion for and interest in doing something (i.e. fitness goals). Just FYI: passion and interest and much better motivators than fear.
This year, I have decided that I’m going to try a new tactic. Instead of declaring, “From this day forward, I will (fill in the blank),” I’m going to work backwards. Somebody smarter than I am once said, “Start with the end in mind.” So here is the plan:
Decide what will be the state of your life (the goal) as of December 31, 2009. Ask yourself “why” this is important. Then ask “why” the answer to “why this is important,” and so on, until the real reason you want this is clear. You’ll know it is the real reason when you have no more answers to “why.”
For instance, I want to have a daily meditation practice of 1 hour/ day, and be well into Holosync Awakening Level 3 (currently in level 1) by the end of the year. Each level of the Awakening Series is about 6 months long. I have had success with this program before, and I really want to get back into it. I’ll write another time about it. For now, I want to be doing my meditation every morning at 5:30 am, followed by 30 minutes of yoga before the kids wake up and chaos ensues. If I had set this all up as my New Year’s Resolution, to start at 100% full throttle on Jan 1, I would have quit already.
First, the why’s. Just for brevity, the following includes short answers as they occur to me with each subsequent “why.” Why do I want to meditate every day? It’s good for me. Why? Relaxation and stress relief are important. Why? Life with CF is stressful and I need to deal with it. Why? Because eventually I will be pretty sick, and I want to be able to find a sense of peace and calm within me when that happens. Why? Because I want to die the way I try to live, with courage and a sense of humor.
When your motivators are clear, break the final goal (what you will be doing in one year) into 12 smaller “chunks.” Then, break the first chunk into 30 very small pieces. Do one piece/day for January. Do the same for the rest of the “chunks” and the rest of the months. Easy, right?
With regard to my meditation goal, the one-hour per day is intense, but it isn’t the biggest obstacle. I’ve been able to sit for 30 minutes daily for a few weeks now, and it seems to be getting easier. It’s the 5:30 am part that is killer. However, I know myself pretty well after these 49 years, and I simply won’t do it if I put it off until later into the day. Life just always seems to get in the way when this happens. I need to establish a morning practice…and it has to be that early because of those wonderful kids of mine…they need to be asleep. Now, 5:30 am is easily 90 minutes earlier than I now wake up. That is way too much to tackle at once. I made the mistake just this morning of forgetting the “small bite” piece. “I can do 6:00,” I thought…”no problem. I’ll start slow…just one day a week.”
I ended up hitting the snooze exactly 6 times, and got up at the usual 7:00 am.
Recently, I discovered a great blog, Zen Habits, where I read a post entitled, “10 Benefits of Rising Early, and How to Do It.” ( Link ) It made great sense to me, especially after my experience this morning.
“ Don’t make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.”
Now there is a concept. I can certainly wake up 15 minutes early! Of course, that doesn’t give me much extra time…but, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. If I can wake 15 minutes earlier each week, I’ll be up by 6:00 at the end of January, and hit my goal of 5:30 by mid-February.
So here is how this one particular goal comes to pass:
Jan: Work on waking up by 6 am by end of month. Spend extra time in morning enjoying coffee, alone time, yoga…things I like. Continue with 1 hr Holosync ( Level 1) in early am (after kids are in school). Concurrently adjust bedtime to 10 pm (from 11 pm).
Febr: By end of month, established routine of being in bed by 9:30 pm, up at 5:30 am (gulp). Continue Level 1. By Mid- February, begin early am meditation.
March—May: finish Level 1
June—Nov: Level II
Dec—Begin Level III
Now when I look forward to tomorrow, I don’t say OMG I have to get up at an ungodly hour and do an entire HOUR of meditation and THEN yoga! I simply have to get up at 6:45 and reward myself with a cup of hot Joe. If every resolution is set with the end in mind, a good reason “why,” and small steps to get there, I think RQ (resolution quotient—I just made that up) would be much closer to 1.