As we get ready to enter into 2018, it is time to think about what our hopes are for the next year. This hope may take the form of a resolution or promise to yourself. Creating individualized, inspired, and realistic resolutions is a worthy endeavor and can help provide a format for your whole person wellness for the upcoming year. Here are a few pointers to help create a New Year's resolution you can live and thrive with.
1. Individualize your resolution that is specific to YOU. Remember that wellness is not one dimensional, and your resolution doesn't need to be either. Your integrated wellness picture is made up of more than just your physical body. Whole person, integrated resolutions can come from any one of the Five Aspects of Whole Person Health™*: Physical, Nutritional, Emotional, Environmental, or Spiritual. Think creatively about what aspect of your health calls to you the most. Spend some time thinking about how you can manifest change in this aspect of your health. What is your ideal picture of this aspect of your health? What is missing? What goals do you want to set, and why? Do you need to reach out for help to clarify or set goals to reach your resolution? Don't be afraid to explore all aspects of your integrated health. Because these different aspects interact with each other, working toward healthy goals in one aspect positively impacts all other aspects as well. Go ahead, think outside the box and create a resolution that is individualized and meaningful to you!
2. Be inspired! Setting resolutions that we feel are necessary, but that we dread, makes for a very long and potentially disappointing year. Instead inspire your resolution with a sense of working toward your life purpose. Having a sense of life purpose is a powerful indicator of positive health outcomes. Purpose can be described as "...a sense of calling, of something in you that quietly demands expression. It is a feeling of what you are supposed to become... but it doesn't have to be grand or even recognized by others" (Schaub and Schaub, p. 33). Often, living without purpose means living a life in which something seems to be missing, while living a life of purpose helps us feel connected, fully alive, and inspired. To some, this may be an unfamiliar concept. Others of us may have inklings of what our life purpose is, and some may be fully living out their life purpose. Wherever you are on this spectrum, exploring your life purpose helps to set resolutions that are individually meaningful and that can help you engage in health promoting behaviors which are inspirational rather than dreadful. In fact, "numerous findings show that purposeful engagement extends life and reduces risk for multiple disease outcomes, including cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. Purpose in life also promotes preventive health behaviors" (Ryff et.al.) How can you inspire your resolution with life purpose? Creative activities which allow for greater self-awareness, such as meditation, imagery, artwork, journaling, or music, are a good place to start. These activities allow different parts of your brain and body (emotions, memories, thoughts, imagination, body sensations, etc.) to talk to, inform, and inspire each other in ways that may not otherwise be accessible. Use the fruit of these self-awareness exercises to inform your resolution with the purpose you are being called toward.
3. Structure your resolution with realistic goals. A resolution is a statement, a promise to yourself. But to get there you need smaller goals to guide your way. How can you formulate reasonable goals? Stick to the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented. For example, if your resolution is to learn to meditate, start with a specific objective/reason to guide and structure your practice ( e.g. to feel less stressed), begin with realistic practice times (e.g. 10 minutes), and set a goal to gradually increase your abilities in a realistic time frame (e.g. in one month I will be able to practice for 20 minutes). Look for ways you can work in "structures," or reminders, of your resolution, such as keeping meditation beads on your wrist, setting a gentle timer on your phone to remind you to practice, or asking a friend to practice with you to provide support. When you find obstacles in your path, try looking at them as opportunities for further growth and inner insight, rather than opportunities to give up. Ask for support and guidance to work through obstacles and learn from them.
Take a few minutes now, close your eyes, take a few soft breaths, and ask yourself, "What is my hope for the next year?" Just breathe and allow what needs to come to you to come, in whatever form it needs to. Now take that hope and manifest it in the form of a resolution. If helpful, ask for help or spend some time in self-reflective activities to gain clarity. Then set a small, realistic goal, and get started! Let your growing confidence, inspiration, and sense of purpose guide you into the New Year.
1. Carol D. Ryff & Aaron S. Heller & Stacey M. Schaefer & Carien van Reekum & Richard J. Davidson. Purposeful Engagement, Healthy Aging, and the Brain. Curr Behav Neurosci Rep DOI 10.1007/s40473-016-0096-z
2. Schaub, Richard and Gulino-Schaub, Bonney. 2015. Transpersonal Development: Cultivating the Human Resources of Peace, Wisdom, Purpose, and Oneness. Florence Press, Huntington, New York.
*Whole Person Health™ is a Registered Trademark of the National Institute of Whole Health. Used with permission. All rights reserved.