I used to cringe when making New Year’s resolutions, remembering earlier attempts at goal-setting that fell short. I often ended up feeling frustrated and disappointed with myself when my resolve faded and I slipped back into my old habits. Even worse, I gave up on myself and felt overwhelmed by thoughts like, I’m getting nowhere and I just can’t do this.
Something shifted for me two years ago, when, instead of setting myself up to fail again, I thought about different ways I could approach my goal-setting by incorporating some spiritual teachings to support my growth.
I started by uncovering negative beliefs that had been keeping me from reaching my weight and fitness goals. When beliefs like Exercise is difficult came to mind, I transformed them into new beliefs, such as It’s easy for me to find exercise that I enjoy and that I do regularly. Or I enjoy exercise that challenges my body.
Adding short periods of daily meditation each day helped me stay centered and focused. I carved out longer times during the week for visualizing reaching my fitness goals.
My “a-ha!” moment came soon after that. I no longer saw my goals as problems that had to be solved, choosing instead to reframe the desired changes as creative adventures. Keeping resolutions sounded like work and deprivation, but having a creative adventure sounded fun and exciting. That simple step changed everything for me.
A Game-Changer: Spiritual New Year’s Resolutions
The payoffs were immediate and startling. Instead of feeling apprehensive about the changes I wanted to make, I felt a growing sense of eagerness and confidence. As winter turned to spring, I began eating healthier, walked more in my neighborhood, and worked out at the gym, all in support of my goal of releasing extra weight. I also got started clearing out my closets, cooking healthier foods, and making new friends. It felt great to be making progress!
Progress isn't always linear. Setbacks can be part of the process of making lasting, positive change.
Best of all, I used my creative passions to further my progress. Writing in my journal and coloring with markers on sketch paper, making art, dancing, and being in nature inspired me when I grew tired and bored with my efforts and frustrated with my progress. I finally understood that progress isn’t always linear. Setbacks can be part of the process of making lasting, positive change.
Setting up daily and weekly routines of stretching, exercising, and doing household chores supported me in remaining focused and on track. I learned to celebrate both small goals and big victories along the way. Honoring my achievements gave me a sense of closure on past goals and propelled me toward new milestones. To support my positive changes, I reached out to friends who could relate to my journey. I also learned to deeply nurture myself by meditating, lighting a candle, or luxuriating in a warm bath.
Now when negative thoughts arise, I am able to remain centered and focused. As I live more fully from my spiritual nature, I draw upon my inner strength and do not let defeatist thinking pull me off my path. Goal-setting is no longer a struggle. It’s now a positive win that supports me in creating a more enriching life.
For more affirmative goal-setting tools, read Rev. Kelly Isola’s “A New Year To-Do List.”