4 Steps For Thriving In The New Year

I know it is tradition to establish resolutions for the New Year right when the clock strikes twelve, and the first day of January begins. Yet there’s a reason why most of these self-determined resolutions eventually fail a month or two down the line.

It’s because people wait. They wait until the very last minute for self-improvement to take shape, and they set unrealistic goals for doing so.

you sleep in, you forget to hit the gym, you put off writing one more paragraph, you indulge in something unhealthy

Time to restructure this narrative.

Rather than view resolutions as rigid guidelines to militantly follow by, perceive them instead as intentions and practices.

If you seek to establish a new intention for personal development, whatever that may be, treat it as a practice. As with learning any new skill, nothing magically happens overnight. It takes time, effort, and patience. The more you practice, the more you improve.

Here are four ways to go about turning your resolutions into practices for optimum transformation in the New Year:

1. Start Now

Do not wait until the first day of January.

Personal improvement begins at any moment, and the sooner the better. You don’t need to begin the occasion with champagne and fireworks. In fact, treat your practice as a form of self-care. Much like brushing your teeth, or taking a hot bath before unwinding to bed, rarely will others witness these intentions for improvement firsthand.

And they’re not supposed to be witnessed.

You don’t need an audience. In fact, the more you brag to people about what you attempt to accomplish–especially on social media– the more pressure you put upon yourself to successfully follow through. This, in turn, leads to short-lived promises. The whole point of an intention is that it’s meant solely for you, without the permission and approval of your friends and family. Know your own value, and begin working on yourself even when others don’t.

By starting early, you get the opportunity to be ahead of the game, while everybody else is still basking in the holidays.

2. Take Baby Steps

As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Most individuals begin their resolutions with impractical, grandiose ideas. They envision waking up at 5 a.m. everyday to exercise for three hours straight, or write a novel in less than a year…without actually doing so.

Everything transformative takes time. In order to create lasting change you must start with the basics, and build your way from there.

For example, I’ve been an avid yoga practitioner for nearly a decade. Yet in those first few years I never had my own at-home morning routine. I wanted one, but didn’t know where to begin.

For what purpose did I want a morning practice? To cultivate a calmer, more focused mindset alongside a strengthened metabolism. At the time, I was pretty active at yoga studios, where external stimuli forced me to concentrate. In order to establish that same discipline by my bedside without getting distracted, I first experimented with getting up early each day of each week.

Once I had that part down, I began waking up and practicing for a few minutes two to three days out of the week. After two months or so, I increased the number of mornings I practiced to five, with at least 30 minutes of yoga at a time. When the four-month mark hit, I pretty much was practicing yoga every single morning for an hour straight, and have done so ever since.

This approach can be applied to anything else.

Desiring to eat healthier? Begin by making minor adjustments to your food intake. Replace butter in your dishes with olive oil. Swap out pasta for brown rice. Eat one more piece of fresh fruit; add another raw vegetable to your meal.

Seeking to write a book? Play around with ideas and put thought to paper. Once you’ve established what you want to write about, begin. Start by writing a couple paragraphs each day without worrying how everything sounds (you can always go back to edit later). From there, increase your word count. Write an extra paragraph. Repeat.

Overtime, the ratio of unwholesome to wholesome food will shift, so long as you practice consistently. Or, you may find that you can’t properly start your day without first writing for a couple hours, working closer and closer towards a complete novel.

Baby steps at the beginning will formulate to discipline and engrained habit in the long run.

3. If You Stumble, Press Onward

Save yourself the trouble now and know that nobody is perfect. Nobody.

When you set out to do something new, you might stumble along the way but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed. You only fail when you quit the growth process altogether.

Yes, discipline and practice are necessary for creating everlasting change, yet you must also allow yourself the wiggle room to learn and grow without fear of judgment.

If you indulge in dessert after a week of healthy eating, notice how your body feels in response. Is your indulgence based upon comfort or balance? There’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat; big difference from gorging sweets every single day. Be mindfully aware of the present moment with your intentions, brush yourself off if you fall, and move forward.

If you took the test once and the outcome was not what you were hoping for, view it as a necessary lesson (not a life sentence), reform your approach and try again. Do this, over and over, until you’ve found your desired balance. And this leads me to my final point.

4. Reflect, Realign, And Refocus

Know the difference between resting and quitting. Resting is necessary to carry out optimal performance for the long haul. Do not work yourself to the point of self-sabotage (remember, it’s about balance). During these periods of rest, take small moments to reflect on your progress.

How far along have you come in your New Year’s intention?

What have been your strengths, and which areas could use improvement? Write them down if you need to (I highly encourage it).

If your intention somehow starts to lose momentum, there is nothing wrong with realigning and refocusing it in a new direction. The most successful people–writers, scientists, chefs, entrepreneurs, you name it–are the ones willing to take risks by trial and error, in order to accomplish what they want. They do not stop after just one attempt. Instead, they experiment, observe what works and what doesn’t work, and add to the narrative.

That is the whole point of establishing a “resolution” as both a practice and intention. Rather than seek to resolve, seek to transform. The magic lies in the journey, the steps you take–it isn’t supposed to be easy, yet that’s what makes it so rewarding, and worth fighting for in the first place.

So, begin now. Set your individual ladder and climb.

Investigating the realms of self and life. IG: @cordycybinyogi