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Spring. Spring is newness. Spring is coming out to play, crawling forward, springing forward (bunnies anyone?), maybe kallabonging through some trees in a jungle. Or if you’re a groundhog, you look outside, decide it’s not worth it, and slide back into your cozy hole in the ground. It’s your choice. Spring is doing something new and leaving old habits behind. We all have things we want to do that we aren’t doing. It’s the human condition.
So how do we keep motivated to do something new?
We know it’s good for us, we know we should do it, and yet we still slide back into our comfortable hole from time to time.
Whether it’s a daily habit or a big goal you’re working toward, the following guidelines will help you stick to your spring resolution and make it as effortless as possible.
1. Put it in your schedule for a specific day and time.
I can’t tell you how many times I think I’m being really organized by writing down my list of to-do items for the week in my planner, right next to the big black text that says January 5 through 9 (ya know, for the whole week). Then I am absolutely boggled when on Friday I look at my planner, and I can’t seem to comprehend why I didn’t do this item. It was in my calendar, for Christ’s sake!
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So be specific. Like so: Monday, February 9: 7:10-7:20 am, meditate.
2. Before you start, write down a list of why you’re doing it.
Read this list when you don’t feel like doing it. Or go all vision-board-y and put it on your wall where you can easily see it, like I do. Don’t let it become a wallflower though (no pun intended).
3. Honor the word you gave to yourself, not your thoughts and feelings.
Heck, if I believed every thought that entered my head, I would probably have a million cats and watch the Bachelor all day long.
4. Don’t fall into all-or-nothing thinking.
If you promise yourself you’ll journal for twenty minutes a day and you only do ten, guess what? You are still creating a habit. The frequency you do something is more important than the duration.
Starting is the hard part.
5. Make it easy for yourself.
There is an app for everything, there really is. Set reminders for yourself, get an accountability buddy, thank yourself for doing something good for you when you finish.
Tell people around you what you’re doing so they can support you.
So how does all this work, in practice? Let’s take a look.
I want to meditate every day for ten minutes. So I got a meditation app, and I set a reminder to go off in the morning. I wrote down in my schedule a 15-minute block of time (to pad for whatever I’m doing before and after), and I came up with my list of motivating factors and wrote them in pretty colors on my dry erase board.
Why do I want to meditate regularly? So I can learn to experience my judgments and evaluations as passing thoughts that have no grounding in reality, to cultivate kindness and gentleness toward myself and my body, and to learn to create a sense of inner calm, anytime, any place, and on demand.
Do I miss days? Do I ignore my reminder alarm sometimes? Do I get interrupted by a text message in the middle of my ten minutes and not finish because I must respond to this urgent message immediately? Absolutely. And it is all perfect.
You could say that really, the gold of this exercise I have described is not the huge benefit you get from achieving your goal or cultivating your habit of choice; it is the invaluable practice of forgiving, letting go, and being able to start fresh the next day without making yourself feel bad.
We have a choice in how we relate to ourselves at every moment. Your life is in your hands. Choose wisely.
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