The new year often begins with plenty of resolutions, dreams, hopes, wishes and hopefully a little excitement about your future plans. Setting your intentions at the beginning of the year is very worthwhile but making unrealistic resolutions is not. How many years in a row have you said, "this year I am going to get fit, I am defintely going to stress less and going to quit that Friday night wine habit."?
Goal setting should be SMART, meaning specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Don't set goals that are vague and drastic, they are too hard to follow and assess along the way. You are basically setting yourself up to fail, which cues negative self esteem and a tendency to fall back into old comforting habits.
If you want to get fit, set a goal of going to the gym twice a week and go for an hour walk three times a week. If you want to improve your eating habits, swap eating take away on Friday night to cooking at home creating your own pizzas on wholemeal pita breads. Another great goal to set for the new year is to have alcohol free nights at least three times a week.
To aid in your goal setting and planning for the new year, the health and wellness community have a few fantastic suggestions for making 2014 AWESOME. Read on for five fabulous tips to create a life you love.
1. Theme or Word for 2014
Jessica Ainscough (the wellness warrior) chooses a theme or word for the year. Jess set her 2014 theme word as Soul Medicine. Maybe yours could be Ease, Soar, Shine, or Awesome. Whatever your theme is make sure it’s evocative and powerful. Mine this year is simply Trust Myself (to be confident in what I believe in, backing myself and staying focussed to my own desires.)
2. Map Your Future in Words
Melissa Ambrosini (from the Path to Wellness) makes a map for her future year, writing words, feelings and desires on a piece of paper. Mel and her friends all agreed that in 2014 they want more fun, adventure, play, travel, and effortlessness, more delegating, less doing, less time behind the computer and more time outside, not so much hard pushing, doing, and go, go, going. I wrote words like peace, awareness, faith, courage, acceptance, balance, compassion, confidence, and joyful.
3. 2014 Vision Board and Journal
Lorna Jane is a big fan of vision boards, collecting a bunch of images, phrases and affirmations to describe her dreams for the new year. You can make yours in your room or office, or create one online using websites like Pinterest.
Miranda Kerr is an advocate of mantras and positive affirmations to create happiness. Miranda has a vision book, which takes the vision board one step further by writing a journal of her hopes, dreams and desires. "I have pictures of places I would love to go, people I hope to meet, things I would like to do and even pictures of friends and family that I pray will remain in my life for as long as possible,'' she says. "I find it really uplifting to look over the images and focus on them as being part of my future.''
4. Start Meditating
Medical professionals and wellness gurus both advocate meditation as an incredibly powerful tool in managing your physical and mental health. Meditation is about self-awareness not just achieving inner peace. Checking in on how your body and mind feel are crucial to assessing what troubles you and how you can move forward. Deepak Chopra believes pure/self awareness lies at the basis of everything, and the most powerful way to change your life is to begin with your awareness. When your consciousness changes, your situation will change.
A new review study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, finds that mindfulness meditation may rival antidepressants in easing the symptoms of depression. Mindfulness may enhance “attention regulation, body awareness, emotional regulation, and changes in self-perspective (e.g., decentering),” which may all play a role in depression. On a purely biological level, MRI studies have shown that meditation is linked to a reduction in activity in the amygdala, the brain area that governs the stress response, and to reduced activity in the default mode network, the brain network that’s “on” when your mind is wandering from thought to thought, which is often linked to feelings of unhappiness and stress.
Not sure how to start? Try downloading the Headspace App on your phone for simple 10-minute guided meditation tutorials. I also love Tara Bliss's Meditate with Me video.
5. Self-care Planner
Kris Carr (health and wellness coach) follows her self-care planner to ensure she is staying intuned to her needs and looking after herself. For Kris, it’s simple. It means being a kind friend to herself. Listening to her needs, tending to wounds, creating boundaries, fueling her body instead of draining it, and practicing the art of loving all parts of herself.
What self care is not:
- Forcing myself to stay awake to answer every single email, way past the point when my brain is capable of making cohesive sentences
- Saying yes to obligations I dread
- Hanging out with people who drain me
- Grudgingly slogging to the gym because women’s magazines tell me that my ass should be 3 inches higher
- Demolishing all of the cake when I’m sad (all of it)
- Having a harsher set of standards for myself than I have for others
- Drinking too much, too often
- Smoking. Period. Ever. End of story.
- Helping and serving others more than I help or serve myself
- Self-care is not selfish (it’s spiritual and loving)
What are your intentions for 2014? Tell me in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.