We all know the January plight far too well, we begin the month with bright eyes and hopeful hearts—convincing ourselves that we will remain true to our resolutions. This will be the year that we put ourselves first and focus on growing in the areas we’ve set out to conquer. Maybe for some of us, it’s being more intentionally grateful in everyday life, for others it’s the conscious effort to integrate more exercise into our routines. We might aim to focus on our personal relationships with others—vowing to call more, send birthday cards or schedule in time for date nights.
Whatever the resolution might be, too many of us lose sight of it by February. We become swept away in our lives again, convince ourselves that everything is okay just the way it is—at least for now. We set a goal that we will pick up our resolution again when things slow down (and they often never do).
The thing about resolutions is that deep down we know the continuation of our plans will benefit us (assuming they are realistic and positive focused), but we lack the self-discipline to see it through.
This is where Tapas comes in. Tapas is the Niyama of yoga that encourages us to practice self-discipline and do something that we might not want to do—but that will ultimately benefit our health. Reflecting on this Niyama encourages us to be mindful of our intentions, to recognize where we can grow to be more moral, healthy and enlightened and then to see those intentions through.
To that end, here are 3 ways that might assist in utilizing the self-discipline that exists within you to continue self-growth after the start of the New Year.
1. Clarify Your Priorities
Part of staying true to a goal is feeling so tied to it that the thought of stopping feels like you might lose a part of yourself in the process. The only way to tether yourself so tightly to your goal is to link it to your personal values, your priorities. Write a list of what you value most in your life. What really matters to you? Then, think about what self-growth areas might support these values, allowing you to become a better version of yourself. Doing this more in-depth exploratory work removes the shallow goal setting we sometimes do on December 28 and instead replaces it with meaningful, intentional, and deeply personal goals that you feel intimately attached to.
2. Work Your New Resolution List into Your Routine
Spend time turning your seemingly lofty resolutions into SMART goals. SMART stands for: Specific, Measureable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-Based. For each goal, run through these steps. If your growth-area is to connect more with your loved ones, your SMART version might look like this: Specific (Call friends and family more often), Measureable (Call each loved one once a week), Action-oriented (Use drive home from work to call one, two or three people every day), Realistic (Maybe only make calls 3 days a week instead of 5), Time-Based (starting January 1 and continuing indefinitely).
Doing this takes something more abstract and makes it concrete. You now have something in place that allows you to take your deeply personal resolution and turn it into an actionable plan.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
This can happen in any way. You might want to journal about how your resolution is impacting your life, which might make you less likely to abandon it without giving it second thoughts. You could talk about your progress with a friend or significant other—because sometimes sharing our goals and progress with others makes us more accountable and proud. Maybe you reward yourself in some way for every week that you maintain your goals—making this specific to you and that will serve as a reason to keep going. Whatever holds you accountable, build that into your plan. This will again help you maintain your resolutions much longer.
Self-discipline requires practice. But, it is not as difficult as we might think. Following these steps might allow you to make your New Year’s resolutions last all year long (or longer). While self-disiciple is hard, reaping the benefits is far reaching.