Staying Committed to Your New Year’s Goals Long After the Energy You Set Them With Has Passed

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For many, a new year feels like a fresh start & a clean slate. And although you can make a change on any of the 365 days of the year, it’s still important to take advantage of any new energy and enthusiasm you may be feeling right now. What’s most important, though, is to accept & acknowledge that you likely won’t feel that same energy or enthusiasm every day, week or month this year and that you have a plan in place to bounce back from that.

Here are just a few ways you can make the most of your positive mindset right now and use it to build momentum & keep yourself inspired all year long:

  1. Set intentions – Intentions leave a little wiggle room for you to not be perfect, which is important. They require acceptance of where you already are while also requiring you to get crystal clear about the type of life you want to live, the type of person you want to be and how you can manifest that in your daily routine. Intentions are different from resolutions in the sense that they don’t set out to ‘resolve’ anything and instead help us gain clarity about what specific qualities or behaviors we want to possess that will help us live the life we want to. Instead of making resolutions & giving up at the first misstep, set intentions that are aligned with your goals and values and forgive yourself when your behavior isn’t aligned, knowing the intention is still true.
  2. Anticipate challenges – Every year will have some bumps in the road, both big and small, both expected and unexpected. Make a game plan for how you’ll respond to those. For example, if you know you have a trip coming up, are there ways you can start saving for it now? If you have an event later in the year, are there ways you can spread out the planning so it’s less overwhelming down the road? If you know your company is laying people off in the summer, can you start updating your resume or networking to prepare for that? Of course there are some things you can’t prepare or plan for, but doing an overview of big, upcoming events can help us feel less stressed when they approach. You should also put a plan in place for what you’ll do about unexpected challenges or any periods of depression, anxiety, disappointment, or failure this year. Who are your supports and what action steps will you take if those things should come up for you?
  3. Make 90-day goals – While it’s great to set long-term, yearly goals, it also leaves the space for us to put things off until much later in the year, possibly never getting around to something on our list or not leaving a realistic amount of time to accomplish it. If you want to ensure you make progress toward your goals early on, setting quarterly goals might be a better approach.
  4. Schedule weekly and monthly reflection – Checking in with yourself to reflect on how your year is going, whether or not you’re behavior is aligning with your intentions and how your progress toward your goals is going is an important step that people often overlook. It’s great to have intentions and to set goals, but you need to be checking in with yourself on them, too, so you can make shifts and adjustments where needed. I recommend a Sunday and end-of-month check in to review what went well and what struggles you had the week or month prior, decide what changes need to be made for the week or month ahead, and create a plan to put those changes into action.
  5. Find accountability and support – You shouldn’t have to feel alone in your approach to the new year and having consistent accountability & support toward your intentions and goals will help you stay focused long after the new energy from the beginning of the year has passed. Find a reliable accountability partner or support group that has similar goals to yours and schedule time to check in with them weekly or monthly, no matter what. Sometimes just sharing our goals and knowing someone is going to be checking in with us about them at a specific time is enough to help us overcome the lack of energy or motivation we may experience otherwise.

How are you feeling about the new year? Have you set some intentions or goals for yourself? If you’re lacking clarity about what you want to achieve or manifest in the new year, that’s okay. Try journaling or talking with a friend or therapist to get in touch with your inner values. As you speak it out loud or write it on paper, your inner dialogue and internalized desires become apparent.

Wishing you all a healthy & fulfilling 2018!

 

 

Managing the Stress of City Living

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Living in a city can be harshly stressful. Everyone around you is rushing to get from point A to point B, living a fast-paced lifestyle, and working extremely hard. The pressure to keep up with that can be overwhelming and exhausting. If we do keep up, we might experience burnout. If we don’t keep up, we might feel anxious. So how do we make sure to manage our own personal expectations for ourselves and avoid getting consumed by the energy of the people around us?
1. Book end your days with stress-relieving activities. Implement a routine in both the morning & the evening that will allow you to begin your day on a calm and focused note and end it in a way that helps you de-compress and relax. Some examples of activities that can be done during this time are reading, meditating, writing positive affirmations, journaling, drinking tea, or exercising.
2. Make positive associations with your commute. Let’s face, commuting is often one of the most stressful parts of the day, especially in a city. Finding a route that is less crowded or more scenic or listening to a motivational podcast or audio book, for example, can ease some of the tension caused by traffic and other commuters. You may also consider listening to some relaxing music, enjoying a healthy snack or drink, or doing a guided meditation if you’re on a train or bus.
3. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Goal-setting helps us feel productive, organized, and in control over our progress. Setting weekly & monthly goals and making a daily to-do list that involves steps to attaining them is the most effective strategy to avoid feelings of overwhelm from disorganization or lack of focus. It also keeps us aligned with our own goals and minimizes our likelihood to compare ourselves to others. Make sure your goals are specific and realistic otherwise this step will backfire.
4. Make time to escape. Getting out of the city once in awhile can be extremely positive for our mental well-being, but we often feel like we don’t have the time or resources to do so. Plan time, at least once a month, to get out of the city for even just a few hours. It could be to a neighboring town or, at the very least, your city’s park. Being in nature and/or stepping outside of our daily environment helps us to slow down, ground ourselves and be more present which in turn helps us feel relaxed, calm and de-stressed.
5. Find and use your supports. Sometimes our strategies and systems to avoid and manage the stress of the city fail and we need someone we can vent to and share our frustration with. Identify the people in your life that you can turn to during particularly overwhelming times and make sure you communicate to them what you need from them when you do, whether it’s someone to listen, someone to help you problem-solve, or someone to give you tough love. Letting others know what we need from them avoids additional frustration and helps us to relieve our stress quicker.
Keep in mind that our strategies will need constant re-adjusting, so don’t be afraid to switch up your routine or to try new techniques for managing your stress. We are ever-changing, our lives are ever-changing, and our environments are ever-changing, so it only makes sense that our routines & coping mechanisms need to be ever-changing, too.

Using Anxiety to Better Understand Ourselves

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Let’s face it: the symptoms of anxiety are uncomfortable. Tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, shaky hands, sweaty palms, obsessive thoughts, and sometimes even worse. Those symptoms don’t appeal to most of us. But what if I told you that anxiety plays an important and even crucial role in our lives? What if I told you that accepting our anxiety as a helpful part of ourselves would, in some cases, be more useful than trying to find ways to cope with or avoid it?

When we understand the ways that our anxiety can benefit us and when we accept it as a helpful part of ourselves, we in turn have a healthier relationship with it and are better able to manage it and, eventually, experience less of it. On the contrary, when we do everything in our power to avoid, eliminate or disengage with our anxiety symptoms and what’s at the root of them, it is often counter-productive to our emotional growth.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t use techniques and strategies to cope with our anxiety in the moment. These tools can be helpful and sometimes even critical, especially for those with anxiety or panic disorders. But once our anxiety symptoms subside, we should fully acknowledge and explore our triggers and patterns through talk therapy, movement therapy, journaling or cognitive challenging.

I personally believe that underlying most of our anxiety is fear. For example, those of us that get anxiety when running late may have an underlying fear of being perceived as irresponsible or a fear of being judged. While we may be able to practice breathing exercises or other mindfulness strategies to minimize our anxiety symptoms in the moment, we are likely to experience this anxiety again in other situations unless we acknowledge and address our underlying fear of judgement. In some cases, our anxiety may also be the result of some internalized, past trauma and, similarly, it is only after working through and repairing that experience that we can fully begin to heal.

Anxiety, while uncomfortable, alerts us that something is off. It gives us the opportunity to learn something new about ourselves and it is through that learning that we grow, develop, and improve our quality of life.