Raise your hand if you’ve made at least one of these resolutions before:
I will be more organized.
I will eat better.
I will lose ___ pounds.
I will exercise every day.
I will do ____ more.
I will do ____ less.
(I’m raising my hand, by the way.)

So, who here has failed at keeping these resolutions and then felt bad about yourself? (Again, raising my hand.)

Let’s not do that to ourselves anymore!

My New Year’s Resolution is to not set myself up for failure and inevitably end up feeling even worse about myself than I did when I made those resolutions! Who’s with me?

When faced with the prospect of New Year’s Resolutions, we tend to look at ourselves a little too critically and decide that we’re not good enough and need to change ourselves. We focus on the stuff that we feel is “wrong” with ourselves and pledge to “fix” ourselves. What if we simply change our approach and focus on our strengths instead? We shouldn’t seek perfection, because there’s no such thing. We should seek to continuously be our best – to take the gifts we have been blessed with, foster their growth, and realize their fullest potential.

I love the idea of a fresh start with the New Year. The Winter Solstice has just passed and the days are getting longer. There’s an all-around feeling of newness and hope – time to move forward and shake off the old stuff that wasn’t quite working. I think it’s important to look back at the year that’s just ended and reflect on all the good and not so good things that happened. Ask yourself, “Where can I place my energy to ensure that the good stuff continues? What have I learned from the bad stuff?”

Next, think about what makes you feel happy. For me, I would have to say I am truly happy when I am being creative and sharing my creative efforts with others. I feel great when I have been exercising and not eating my weight in cookies. I am happy and full of love when my friends and family are happy and full of love. Therefore, my goals or hopes for 2015 revolve around creativity, health, and love and compassion. This is my focus and what drives me each day of the year.

It may be helpful to make an inspiration or vision board for 2015. Find pictures and words that inspire you in some way- even if they just make you feel something. Cut or print them out and glue them to a large piece of paper or cardboard. Remember, there’s no pressure to have everything on your board become a reality by 12/31/15… just use it as a guide to start (or continue) in the direction that’s right for you. Think big – there are no limitations in this exercise. A vision board is a start – a place to focus your energy to help your vision become reality.

There are little things we can do each day to keep that positive energy flowing: start a gratitude journal, listen to that little voice, be in the moment, and just breathe. Create a daily mantra, set intentions each day. Ask yourself from time to time: what’s standing in my way/holding me back from moving forward?
Self-awareness and a little courage will take you far.

Remember – the idea is not to beat yourself up for not doing the right things all the time. In meditation, we are taught to congratulate ourselves when we find our minds wandering, as opposed to berating ourselves. Do the same with your vision for yourself – if you notice that you have fallen off your track, pat yourself on the back for realizing it and refocus your mind. Visit your vision board, meditate, practice yoga – whatever you need to do to re-energize yourself.

Instead of making a list of specific and possibly unrealistic goals that a) you have made before and not kept, and b) focus on your perceived flaws, gently guide yourself in a direction where the focus is on creating positive energy throughout each day. I find that when you are focusing on what makes you happy, you become… happier. And when you’re happier, you make better decisions for yourself (e.g. less sugar). And when you make better decisions for yourself, you are likely finding yourself eating better, exercising more, cluttering up your life less, and moving forward.

The good news is that January 1st is not the only start date for improving your life. We are given the gift of a fresh start in every new moment. Go at your own pace, don’t set an end date, and recognize each little achievement as an important piece of the bigger picture of your life.

Happy New Year!

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