5 Steps to Build New Habits and Achieve Your Goals
Throughout my life, I have learned that creating ‘resolutions’ does not work for me. The term and concept of making a firm decision to stick with a behavior change has not been effective for me.
Over the years I have developed a pattern of reflection and planning that helps me to build new habits and achieve goals any time of year, but especially in a new year.
This pattern has allowed me to grow into a version of myself that feels healthy and in alignment with my truest values.
Last year, meditation was the habit that I wanted to establish. I not only have a consistent meditation habit, I have achieved my goal of daily meditation. And as often happens in this process, I have excelled beyond my goal and often meditate more than once a day. If you are interested in building a meditation practice, here are 3 Tips for Meditating to get your started.
To support you in building a life of wellness and energy that you desire, I am giving you 5 steps to building new habits and using my established habit of meditation as a model.
1. Assess – where are you now?
I often refer to my healing and wellness as a journey. And just like a physical journey, you need to know where you are in order to figure out where you are going.
So where are you now?
For me, a year ago I was attending weekly addiction recovery meetings online through Refuge Recovery. (Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist based recovery program with meditation as a part of each meeting.)
My meditation practice consisted of meditating in the Refuge Recovery meeting along with another meditation or two sprinkled in from time to time.
As I was assessing where I was, I deeply reflected on multiple aspects of my current situation.
I realized that having the scheduled meeting with accountability and support of others was allowing my meditation practice to flow consistently each week.
As I reflected, I celebrated the progress that I had already made, and determined that I would continue my weekly meetings with meditation as I grew this habit.
Through this reflection, I noted that my success thus far was supported by a scheduled routine of practice. This would help inform how I would approach growing this habit.
2. Vision – where do you want to be?
To continue the journey analogy – you need to determine your destination.
But remember, that your final destination may mean that you need to take a rest along the way.
Another thing to consider is that after assessing where you are, you must accept whatever this is.
Turn your mind and heart over to the fact that where you are is just that – where you are now. It is not where you have to be forever.
All of this turning and shifting takes place for me over time through both reflection and contemplation.
Also remember that life will throw curveballs and challenges, so approach your visioning as a flexible process that meets the reality of where you are beginning.
For me, though many I admire have meditation practices that lasts almost an hour a day, as I contemplated what is best for me, I knew that to ever achieve that vision, I had to scale back.
My vision clicked in with the simple statement – I want to have a daily meditation practice.
3. Plan – what support can you give yourself?
Once my vision, or essentially my goal, became clear – it was time to go to the practicality of implementation.
Once you have your destination designed, you must determine how you are going to get there – the modes of transportation, the timeline, etc.
After going through deep reflection, I became aware that I am a person that thrives with a schedule and routine.
I am also naturally a night-owl (though that has shifted through this same process which I will share in another future post).
Though most visions of meditators have them sitting in easy seat, meditation can be done in virtually any position. I like laying down.
At the time of creating my goals, my mind was constantly darting from thought to thought and surging with anxiety. That led me to know that guided meditation would be the best tool to help me train my brain to get into a state of awareness.
All of this analysis came together to design a plan that supported my goal of daily meditation:
I would meditate at night, in bed, before going to sleep. I would use the app, Insight Timer with guided meditation and data tracking to see my progress.
4. Experiment – build success from accomplishment versus reaching for a defined goal.
SMART goals used to be my thing. I used them in my roles as a teacher and leader in public education. I used them as a Wellness Coach working for WW.
I still use the foundation of them as a guide, but I live my life in a much more gentle, fluid way that allows for adjustments and a focus on growth versus a specified outcome.
This means that I have shifted into a mindset around:
This looks like ‘I wonder how many days in a row I can meditate?’
Versus: ‘I will meditate every day.’ or ‘I will meditate every day for the month of January.’
I strongly recommend allowing yourself to be human. Life happens and strict goals can not always be attained.
Treating your goals as an experiment allows you to build success from what you already achieved. This is a growth mindset in action.
You are building UP instead of building TOWARDS.
Give it a try. Perhaps you will discover what I did – greater and longer sustained success.
5. Celebrate the journey versus waiting to get to the destination.
When I led Weight Watcher meetings, we would celebrate milestones.
Members had their individual goals around weight loss, but we didn’t wait until those goals were met to recognize individual progress. The celebrations of every 5 pound and percentage weight losses not only inspired the other members, it created momentum to continue the work.
The same happens when I sit in recovery meetings. We celebrate the journey.
People share how long they have been sober, and milestones are recognized and celebrated. The really amazing thing is that even when people have relapses – we celebrate that they came back. That the relapse was just a setback to set them up for future success.
Do the same for yourself.
Do what feels best for you – whether you want your celebrations to be public or not.
For me, in my daily meditation. Since I viewed it as an ‘experiment’ – I tracked my data.
I not only used the Insigt Timer App, I used a countdown/up timer app to log all sorts of trends in my habits.
I would celebrate internally and would occasionally share when it came up socially.
But as I approach my one-year anniversary of daily meditation – I plan to post on social media to not only celebrate, but inspire others and let them know I am here for support.
Remember that I am always here to support your journey.
Schedule a 20-minute, free call and I can help you shape your goals/visions for this new year – or any time you need a reset. Schedule here.
I appreciate you and look forward to hearing how your habits build and goals are achieved!
With love and light,
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