Every year it’s much the same – we say this year will be different, that we will ease ourselves into the new year, leave stress behind, turn a new page. But before we know it, we are sucked straight back into the same thought patterns and beguiled into the same old habits as before. This year, instead of making big promises which are hard to keep and falling back into old ways, we wanted to share with you how you can use mindfulness to start this new year differently.
After a year of disappointment, it can be easy to make grand plans about what this year will or won’t be. Instead of thinking about all the things you want to change this year – start this new year differently, smart small, and simply change one thing at a time. Rather than looking to shake up your whole life, carefully choose one thing you’d really like to change and promise that you’ll dedicate yourself 100% to making that happen. Not only does that give you a better chance of success, but your self-esteem will also thank you for not setting yourself up for a fall.
The reality is, none of really know what this year will bring…the best way to handle that? Be curious. When you are curious, this opens up a whole world of possibilities – whether it be about your work or life situations. While life might still feel quite micro at the moment, there are still plenty of opportunities to try new things if you’re open and curious. Maybe this is the year you finally take time to learn a new skill or try a new hobby. Or perhaps you can try to be more curious at work by seeking out what you can learn from others, broadening your network or setting goals for personal development. Which brings us nicely on to…
Share your goals
Whether in business or life, this year the key to being more mindful in setting and keeping your goals, is to share them. The key here is to share your goals with a friend, colleague or even a mentor who will help you stay accountable to sticking to them, and also applaud you when you do. When finding your goal-sharing tribe, you may find that you have to look outside of your normal circle who may already have set views about who you are and what you do. This also presents a great opportunity to develop new and exciting connections that will enrich your life in different ways.
If you do fall off the wagon
The new year is a time when many of us tend to over-analyse and reflect. With that said, if you do fall off the wagon with any of the above, then it is imperative to address this mindfully. Rather than being critical with yourself about anything that doesn’t go as planned, instead, be mindful of the story you let your mind create around these events. In other words – you create the story, not your mind!
Be sure to create a positive reality around why things may not have started or worked out the way you intended, and accept – then learn – from your mistakes. Mindfulness is the perfect way to banish negative self-talk. Here is a quick exercise you can do to reset any negative thoughts that may try to take over:
A new way of relating to those negative thoughts is from cultivating mindfulness: being curious, non-judgmental, and gentle with yourself, no matter what thoughts arise.
You need to notice and observe without entering the struggle.
Here are the basic steps of this process:
ACKNOWLEDGE the troubling or intrusive thought, as a gentle, non- judgmental observer. (“I’m noticing some worry about this appointment.” “I’m having the thought that I’ll screw up this presentation.”)
LABEL the thought. (“Hello, Mr. Anxiety.” “There you are, Nervous Itch!”)
REMIND yourself that you have enough space for this thought, and yet it will eventually pass on its own. (“This thought isn’t part of me, but I’m big enough to let it pass through me. I can watch it as it goes.”)
GROUND your physical self in the moment, focusing on your breath, as you try to relax your body. (“I am here, sitting at my desk, and I am going to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, slowly.” “Let me roll my neck to help ease the tension I always get there.”)
VISUALIZE the thought passing. (“There you go, thought. You were a dark cloud, but now you’re breaking up.” “I’m watching that worry float by, like a leaf on a stream.”)
You may now be wondering “But what about when the thoughts are true, or worth worrying about?” Right now we’re focused on the negative and anxious thoughts that objectively don’t deserve to retain any mental space. But in the case of those times when the thoughts can’t be dismissed as in- valid or dysfunctional, you need help in drawing the line between what to listen to and what to allow yourself to let go of.
- Give you clarity on what you really want to achieve in 2021
- Motivate you to achieve your goals
- Make you accountable on your path to success