If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. Redemption: New Year, Still You?

by Rea Frey

You know the drill. Make a New Year’s Resolution (or 50), gain some momentum, lose even more ground, and then spin into an abyss of self-loathing and shame. Sound familiar?

This year, skip all the usual make-them-and-break-them fanfare and dig a little deeper into what you really want—from goals, from life, from your job, from relationships and especially from yourself. Think about the common goals we often set around health and wellness: Some of us want to get stronger, complete a race, fit into our skinny jeans or see a certain number on the scale. But let’s look beyond the “typical” goals and get a little more personal. It’s very easy to set goals. It’s a lot harder to achieve them without bumps, hiccups or our desires and determination being tested along the way. How we think has so much to do with how we succeed. If it’s important, we find a way; if not, we find an excuse. It’s all about the approach.

1. Don’t Recycle Old Goals. 
Sure, if there’s something you’re dying to complete from last year, last month or last week, then do it. But if you tend to make the same goals (I want to lose weight! I want to feel good! I want to be healthy!), shake it up a little. This year, don’t make your goals have anything to do with how you look. We have the rare opportunity to make each day vastly different from the day before. Most of us will fall into the same daily routines, thinking the same handful of thoughts as yesterday. We all know doing the same things over and over again yields the same results.

Instead of that limited way of thinking, expand. What haven’t you tried that you really want to do? What is something that calls to you? What changes do you need to make in order to get there. Take steps to answer these questions and practice them daily.

2. Shape up your mind.
So many of us focus on our bodies first, then the mind. But talk to any athlete or high achiever, and you know the keys to most success stem from that gooey thing between your ears. So many of us send out negative thoughts without even thinking about it: from looking in the mirror to eating foods that are deemed “good” or “bad,” we construct thoughts and opinions around everything (hello, social media bashing). When you look in the mirror, appreciate what your body can do, not just how it looks. When you are eating, tell yourself that you are eating the best thing for you.

When you wake up, think about how you get to go to work, not how you have to. Focusing on feeling good takes practice and consistency. It can be one of the hardest patterns to develop, but it is definitely the most rewarding.

3. Recognize it’s going to be hard.
Change isn’t easy. If it were, we’d all be capable of changing bad habits in favor of better ones. Do you ever notice how some habits, like brushing your teeth, are intrinsic, but others, like getting the spoon out of the damn peanut butter jar, are not? We spend so much time focusing on what we don’t want, that we often resist what we do want. If you believe it’s impossible to change, then you are right. But if you lay the groundwork to make change a daily priority—not a weekly or monthly one—then you will pave the way to a more sustainable way of living. Ask yourself: What can I do today? How can I be positive today? How can I eat slightly better or take care of my body/job/partner/child today? There’s no quick fix for change. Health happens over the long-term. It can be hard to undo habits and patterns, so prepare to put in the work now and then watch as your health, goals and life shift into something new.

4. Stop comparing.
So, comparison has pretty much become the normal way of life. We compare our lives against those online, in the media, in magazines and even next door. We get wrapped up in our friends’ stories, our families’, and often times, we don’t align with who we really are or what we really want from life. As Byron Katie wrote: It’s not your job to like me; it’s mine. It starts here, with you.

You as an infant, a wobbly toddler, a gangly child, a teen, a twenty-something, an adult, a senior. Are you there for yourself? Do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and tell yourself it’s okay every time you fall? Or do you need friends, family or partners to give you constant guidance? At some point, you have to do what is best for you. You have to decide that what you think about yourself matters more than what anyone else thinks. Strip the job away, the physical appearance, the materials, the family and the outside influences and realize you’re not in a race against anyone or anything except yourself. How do you want to finish?

However you approach the New Year, remember to give back to your body and your mind. Weed out the junk, the negative environments, the same tired thoughts as last year, last month or even last week. Get clear about who it is you are and what you really want to become. Visualize what your best life looks like. And then go live the sh*t out of it.