For 2021: Add to Your Life, Don’t Subtract

Do not miss out on an opportunity for renewal and cleansing with the new year. A change of years is a good time to throw out the old and ring in the new. Get 2020, with all of its pandemic fear, election contention, economic woes, depression and anxiety, out of your emotions by washing away what was and usher in 2021 with all of its potential and new opportunities.

The year 2020 was one of subtraction: loss of freedoms to travel and visit with others; for many, loss of financial income; for others, loss of friends, family, and co-workers. Much was taken out of our lives due to the worldwide pandemic.

For 2021, focus on adding things to your life. Make a resolution to heal yourself, improve yourself, and start afresh through careful actions that will lead you closer to a desired result.

First, let’s take a look at understanding a resolution, and then let’s explore some areas where you can add good things to your life.

A Resolution Is Really A Promise To Yourself

When a person makes a resolution, they are, in reality, making a promise to themselves. Most people fail at keeping resolutions because they are not really making a promise or commitment; rather, they are following a New Year’s tradition set by society. By keeping a tradition, a resolution becomes less personal and more customary.

So, how do you ensure that this commitment to change becomes very personal? You start by changing the language of your resolution and speaking it out loud. Instead of using an “I will” statement, like “I will lose 30 pounds this year”, change your statement to include the word “promise” – “I promise to lose 30 pounds this year.” Go to a mirror and speak this promise out loud to yourself. Now you have just intensified your resolution by giving power to it through your voice. Voicing your statements is a physical manifestation of your thoughts, giving power to them and ownership.

Next, you will need to remind yourself daily of your promise. Each morning, start off the day with your “I promise…” resolution. Vocalize it. You may even want to remind yourself throughout the day of your promise. Use technology (smartphone, tablet, etc.) to help you – record your promise like a repeated mantra and play it back to yourself when you have a break in your day. This will help reinforce the promise you made to yourself.

Making a promise is a great way to kick things off, but you need to act with intention to realize your promise. Verbalizing your intentions with a statement like, “I not only promise to lose 30 pounds, I intend to reach this goal.” Then, use technology to set reminders of your intention and action steps towards fulfilling your promise. You may want to enlist the help of friends or family to help keep you accountable, too.

Add Compassion Towards Yourself

One of the most difficult things for many people to tackle is having compassion towards themselves. When we do something wrong, when we do something that violates our conscience, we have been taught for generations and generations to feel guilty. Such feelings of guilt are supposed to help us from doing something wrong again.

However, many of us fall into the trap of if a little bit of guilt is good, then a lot of guilt is even better. By repeatedly condemning ourselves, we create a continuous flow of guilt – all in the hope of making ourselves a better person.

Strangely enough, research shows that continual self-criticism and excessive guilt have the opposite effect – they weaken our self-control and lower our motivation to improve ourselves. Feeling badly about yourself actually increases the likelihood that you will indulge in stress-relieving activities, like the dreadful habits you are trying to avoid.

So, how can you make positive changes in your life? Be your own best friend by having compassion on yourself.

While you may think taking such a stance mentally is a contradiction, look at it this way: if your friend had made a mistake and was suffering, how would you respond? Would you not be supportive and help them avoid too much guilt? Often, we are more encouraging and forgiving towards others than we are towards ourselves. We know that our friends are more than the bad choices they made in their lives, but we fail to give ourselves that same compassion.

The next occasion that you hear your inner critic belittling you, give yourself a compassion break. Realize that you are in some form of distress, that you are suffering. Then, take a moment to acknowledge that making mistakes and disappointing ourselves is an inevitable part of life. Everyone fails at times, and there’s little to be done to avoid it. In that, you are just like every other flawed human being.

Take a step back and be a friend to yourself. Rest for a moment and seek out some encouragement. Look in the mirror and say something positive and uplifting to yourself. Resolve to show more compassion towards yourself.

Add Compassion Towards Others

In addition to promising change towards yourself, resolve to bring positive changes that impact others. Helping others is a great way to boost our self-esteem and sense of purpose in life. It gives us that “warm glow”, that good feeling that makes us happier and more fulfilled.

  • Practice random acts of kindness – follow the Golden Rule by treating others the way you want to be treated. This year, promise yourself that you will pay it forward in some way (like purchasing a drink for someone behind you in a drive-thru), volunteer for local charities, and/or donate your time to a neighbor or someone in the community.
  • Show gratitude – routinely show gratitude for others being in your life, giving them a sense of worth. Nothing combats a negative state of mind in you and others better than celebrating what is good about them and their value in your life.
  • Connect more with loved ones – reach out to family and friends through virtual meetings, note cards, or text messages on a regular basis throughout the year. Connecting with others has dual benefits – not only does it show others that you care, making them feel appreciated, but it also helps you psychologically. Research shows that connecting with others greatly impacts your happiness and health.

Add Actions to Your Intentions

Remember, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” People often set goals and make resolutions with little thought as to how they will attain them. Once you have established promises you have made to yourself, the next step is to develop a plan, complete with milestones and a time-line.

Set realistic goals and then break them down into bite-sized chunks (metaphorically speaking) so that you can attain them strategically and easily. Accomplishing milestones in steps is much more manageable than trying to accomplish everything at once. And remember to reward yourself in some way for reaching those milestones.

Make 2021 a year where you add to your life instead of subtracting. Seek renewal and cleansing from all the heaviness that 2020 brought to your life and be kind to yourself and others.

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