So your New Year's resolution isn't working? New York Times bestselling author, Spirit Junkie, and Yoga Journal LIVE! New York's 2016 keynote speaker Gabrielle Bernstein thinks most people make one mistake when setting out to make a change, but it's never too late to set your goals straight.
Team, now that we’re into the last week of January, it’s time for a come-to-Buddha: How are your resolutions playing out? If they aren’t happening, best-selling author, motivational expert and Kundalini teacher Gabrielle Bernstein believes there’s a good chance you commissioned them while you were hungover.
Not in the way that you think, though.
“Usually we’re a bit hungover from the year before, looking back at things we wish we had done. We think, ‘I want to get healthier, I want to clean up my act,’—and that we have to fix it all at once. While that can be inspiring and motivating, it’s not the most empowering place from which to create change,” says Bernstein, the upcoming keynote presenter at YJ LIVE! in New York this April. “If you try changing everything at once, then you aren’t going to change anything.”
That doesn’t mean you’re stuck spinning wheels in the sludge of status quo till the next ball drops, though. In fact, while “End-of-January Evaluation” doesn’t have the same ring as “New Year’s Resolutions” (yet), now is the is best time to start optimizing your life. Without the distracting gloss of festive fetes, glittery dresses, and ego-driven proclamations, you can take a breath and see your life’s terrain for what it is: The gorgeous peaks, the challenging valleys, and blocked trails you can no longer trek. That is where change comes in.
So, what's the best way to approach a resolution redo? Bernstein spoke to YJ and gave us her ultimate tips for hatching a goal that will stick.
Gabrielle Bernstein's 6 Tips for Setting Goals
Ask yourself two questions
"People encourage us to jump into big goals, which creates over-excitement and an expectation around intentions that may be a bit outside of our reality,” says Bernstein.
Instead, she recommends simplifying demands of yourself. Consider your resolution and ask yourself: “Do I have enough hours in the day to make this happen?” and “If so, is this something I’m willing to do every day?”
For example, maybe you can hit up 6 a.m. yoga, but will you wake up at 5 a.m. on the reg? If so, you may have a winning resolution—just as long as you...
Pursue something that passes the B.I.S. Test
Do you know why you’d like to head into a new direction? Talk to your friends about your goals. If at any time you catch yourself saying “Because I should...,” ditch it.
“If your resolution isn’t something you want at the present moment, then it isn’t attainable right now,” Bernstein says. "I’ve tried giving up caffeine in the past because I thought I should, but I didn’t really want to.”
Get in touch with what you WANT
It sounds simple, but figuring out what you should do versus what you want is key—and difficult. Get into your asana or meditation practice to quiet your thoughts and others’ expectations, and then observe yourself.
“If you find yourself energized talking about it and feel a deep desire for this change, then you want it,” Bernstein says. “This year I am actually giving up caffeine because I have a desire to feel more grounded.”
Deploy a daily proclamation
“Morning prayers and devotions are powerful tools that keep you consistent because you are starting your day with an intention that leans into your consciousness,” Bernstein says. “And keeping it in the context of ‘today’ is especially important.”
Start reinforcing your resolution first thing tomorrow with your version of Bernstein’s simple prayer:
- “I’m willing to give up my coffee today.”
- “I choose today to go to the gym.”
- “Today I will meditate for 5 minutes.”
Go ahead, short-sight your plan
If sticking to something forever seems like a daunting task, try challenging yourself to do it for a shorter 40- or 60-day increment instead.
“If you can continue daily repetition without interruption, you can actually refocus and redirect your neural pathways and create permanent change,” Bernstein says.
According to a University College London study published in European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a new habit to stick. But the longer do it to start, the easier it’ll be to rock on.
Treat yourself like you'd treat your BFF
Since we aren’t A.I., accept that failture (and lapses) will be part of your journey. And when it happens? Be kind and gentle.
“Forgive yourself and choose again,” Bernstein says. “From the moment you fall off that resolution, if you’re going into this negative space thinking you’re not good enough, you’ll most likely stay off. Forgive yourself, and you can usually come back to it pretty quickly.”