As I discussed in last week’s post, I don’t think it is always very helpful to create a list of New Year’s resolutions to hold over one’s head. Instead, I would like to suggest that it is much more helpful to focus on New Year’s solutions. Don’t come up with a list of negatives that you would like to change about yourself; rather, decide on some positive areas of focus for the New Year.
These areas of focus don’t have to be major. In fact, it may help you just to pick one small area, one aspiration you have. For me, the one area I wanted to pursue this year was gaining focus. In my busy schedule, I had neglected the basic exercise of reflection and meditation, and that left me feeling scattered and overwhelmed. So here’s what I decided to do about it.
1. Get up. By nature, I plunge deep into what I’m doing. That means I often stay up late working on a project that has captured my attention. The result has been that I don’t allow myself time for reflection. Simply changing my habits to go to bed earlier and read for a while allows my body and mind to wind down, while opening up my mind for reflection. I set my alarm for 4 AM, and I put a bottle of water and a Jet Alert pill by my alarm. I’ll turn my alarm off and go back to sleep, but half an hour later, I’m up and ready to go. Notice that I’m not resolving to “get up at 4:30 every morning.” Instead, I’m positively motivating myself by setting a goal and then building solutions that reward me and fuel further progress toward my goals.
2. Look up. I used to hate routine. I’m a creative, and the same-old-same-old is stifling to me. However, I eventually realized that my lack of setting aside time to focus, spiritually and mentally, was causing me to be scattered and distracted. One of the advantages of getting up early was to give me a chance to focus at the beginning of the day. There are fewer distractions, it’s quiet and dark (which helps me focus), and I find that it’s incredibly refreshing to go to my study and quiet my soul. I’ll read a passage of scripture and then close my eyes and eliminate everything from my focus except the spiritual. It’s not a routine, but a solution I’m becoming addicted to.
3. Shape up. Health is a delicate balance to maintain. I found that working late and snacking late to fuel it was ruining my metabolism. I felt lethargic. I was too tired to exercise. Now that I’m getting up early, one of the first things I’m doing is to drink a glass of water and eat an apple. That kickstarts my metabolism and makes me feel like exercising. I’ll go to the basement and do some exercises in my little fitness center. I wouldn’t say I’m on any kind of regimen or fitness program. I just do what feels good. And surprisingly once you start, it’s easy to keep going with other exercises. The result: I have way more energy and focus, and I’m having a blast!
Again, it was crucial for me to start with a positive vision of what I wanted to happen this year. Then it was easy to look for a linchpin, a small solution with big results that would trigger other solutions. These are the New Year’s solutions that are working for me. They may or may not work for you, but the process should still be the same.
So why don’t you join me in setting some New Year’s solutions. And let me know how you’re doing. We can motivate one another. Success breeds success, they say.