New Year, Same Me

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New Year, Same Me: Why our resolutions are not the solution  

By Julie Khanna with expert insights from Akai J. Jackson, America’s Favorite Mindfulness Expert 

I’m not Cinderella! Nothing at all was going to change when the clock struck midnight. I don’t need a new year to give me false reassurance that the changes I want to make will be waiting for me to wake up on New Year’s Day, nor do I need a new year to begin a new journey. And neither do you. 

Here’s what I am saying– change is hard. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. And even the most determined people on earth will tell you that hard work alone is rarely enough. Life-altering, tangible change begins with a shift in the mindset. Mindset shifts break the patterns that hold us in cycles of starting and stopping new behaviors.   

To find out where one could begin to shift their mindset successfully, I interviewed Akai Jackson–voted America’s Favorite Mindfulness Expert and owner of I Excel Today. Akai’s personal development agency curates mindset shift programs to transform clients from existing to excelling in their physical, mental, and financial health. Akai even gave us a journal that we could start using now, in addition to some powerful advice. (Just click on the “journal” link in the previous sentence to get your free mindfulness journal).

What is mindfulness, and how does it help? 

Mindfulness is intent awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and the environment surrounding them. In best practice, a person can “sense” how they feel and thus act upon those feelings with no judgment. This allows for presence or being in the moment, rather than mulling over past experiences or worrying about the future.

Why do people fail/exhaust their NY resolutions so quickly?

People fail or exhaust their New Year’s resolutions quickly because the goals aren’t specific enough, and they usually have a negative connotation. The most common resolutions are avoidance of something such as: not drinking soda, giving up cigarettes, or junk food. So much of how we talk to ourselves frames and shapes our actions and thoughts, which control our behavior. Therefore, with a broad-based goal, with it not being specific enough, not measurable, maybe even unrealistic, and not bound to a timeframe along with the “avoidance” instead of acceptance tone, is why most people quit on New Year’s resolutions. 

What does it really take to see the changes we wish to see in ourselves? 

It starts with a decision that must be backed by consistent, intentional action to see the changes you wish to see. It’s tough. Honestly, change might be the hardest thing for someone to do. To exist is to change, to change is to mature; and to mature is to recreate oneself endlessly. Change is inevitable, and it happens around us in our world by the second. Growth in change solves everything.

What are some techniques we can be doing daily to begin our transformations? 

Some healthy techniques people can do daily to begin transformation is affirming themselves. Positive self-talk leads to improved self-image, which controls performance, which stimulates more positive self-talk. The next best practice is to live in the moment. Be intentional about your thoughts, your beliefs, and your purpose. Find joy in the simple things because of gratitude. Accept yourself for who you are right now, and know that your best self is ahead of you. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend. Lastly, the most overlooked daily practice is to focus on your breathing. If negative thoughts are high, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath’s consistency as it moves in and out of your body. 

How do we make this applicable? For example, let’s say my goal this year is to be more organized. How does mindfulness work in achieving that goal? 

Mindfulness has its place in any goal a person wants to achieve because it helps people cope with change. So if you have a goal of being more organized, mindfulness plays its role in helping you reduce the stress and anxiety of change. Before we put mindfulness into practice, you were comfortable living in an unorganized space/place/work environment, which means we will be getting outside of that comfort zone to create transformational change. 1)The transformation starts with the decision. 2) Rephrase your clutter or disorganized negative talk into a positive talk. 3) Deconstruct the goal; think about what you would write on a daily to-do list to accomplish the goal. 4) Assign yourself small tasks. 5) Set deadlines for yourself. The way to follow through on simple, short tasks is to set deadlines. 4) Hold yourself accountable. It’s doing the hard work. The quote “every journey starts with a single step” is entirely true. Or, if you prefer, “Showing up is half the battle” speaks to the same intention. You have to give yourself clear and actionable things to do and a reasonable amount of time in which to do them. Otherwise, you’ll never so much as get started.