I’ve never been a fan of typical New Year’s resolutions. Studies show only eight percent of people achieve what’s on their list on 1 January over the course of the year. We all have wishes, wants, and dreams. Yet, we struggle to commit. “I want to lose 20 pounds” is an admirable and aspirational resolution, but one that only sticks if you have a realistic and attainable way of getting there.
So how do you best reach your goals in the new year? I’ve asked some of my favorite health and wellness experts for a sneak peek into their goals and, more importantly, asked for their own roadmap on how they are going to attain them.
It’s useful to articulate your goals clearly and realistically (is 20 pounds really achievable or even required?) and keep yourself accountable. Announce your goals to your friends and family — it’s harder to back out when the rest of the world is watching. My goal? To dream big but do small. Any plan that’s too big and broad is much harder to attain. It’s all about baby steps towards excellence.
Goal: Improve sleep quality.
How: Reduce evening screen time and no social media on after 9 pm.
We all know the value of proper shut-eye, but how often does that “one last email” turn into five or ten and a disturbed night’s sleep?
“Sleep, rest and recovery is an important component of overall wellness and performance,” explains Jeremy McCarthy, the Group Director of Spa for Mandarin Oriental Group. “But it is also the easiest one to deprioritize if you don’t have a clear goal and a strategy to carve out sacred time for sleep and rest in a busy schedule.”
Having identified the impact that technology had on his sleep in 2015, Jeremy’s committed to turning devices OFF after 9 pm in the New Year. Could this be doable for you?
Goal: Dial down my nervous system, to be measured at the end of the year by impact on telomeres.
How: Change workout, nature walks and new mantra.
“Like most hypervigilant working moms, I spend too much time in fight, flight, or freeze — I go from 0 to 60 on the stress scale way too fast,” explains Sara.
She has a three-step plan to achieving her goals in 2016: “First, I’m going to form a new groove for my calming habits by doing yoga daily for 90 minutes.” She plans to integrate yoga into her social occasions to make sure she commits, too: “instead of meeting for tea or lunch, we meet for yoga and a cup of tea afterward.”
Next, she’s planning to get back to basics by walking in nature at least five days a week. “This has been shown to dampen the brooding center in the brain, called the subgenual prefrontal cortex.” Finally, she’s crafted her own Metta meditation to recite when she’s feeling overwhelmed.
May I feel protected and safe
May I feel content and pleased
May my physical body provide me with strength
May my life unfold smoothly with ease.
At the end of the year, Sara plans to measure her telomeres to see if her plan has worked. “They are the little caps on your chromosomes that shorten prematurely if you’re a stress case like me!” Now that’s a pretty cool goal. Could you use a little more calm in your life?
Goal: Increase my flexibility.
How: 30-minute stretch routine, two to three times a week.
“I think a stiff body is a telltale sign of unbalanced workouts and the amount of stress we hold on to in our bodies,” explains celebrity fitness trainer Christine Bullock. Although she already incorporates dynamic movement into her workouts with Gyrotonics training, her plan to get more bendy in 2016 is simple: “I’m going to stretch for 30-60 minutes before bed two to three times a week.” To help keep her muscles long, she’s also reducing her heavyweight and HIIT training to just one time per week. “It works against my flexibility.”
If you feel like you could use more flexibility in your life (both on and off the yoga mat) try adding in a stretch after every workout or sign up for a yoga membership at your favorite local studio (and then GO!).
Goal: Be more present and authentic in the moment.
How: Have a mantra and recite it regularly.
Dr. Hyman always has big goals and sets them high. Among them: “To learn more, love more, love better, be a better doctor, be a better father, friend, reach more people, heal the planet, end obesity, starvation, and global warming… Those who know me well know that I have crazy, insane goals, but at the same time, I have realized if I focus on those goals and miss the moment, then I can never reach them.”
Instead, he’s focusing on some powerful, authentic mantras to keep himself anchored in the present in 2016. Could you create your own affirmations to anchor yourself in the present moment?
I am not in control of my life or those in it. If I think I am in control I am always disappointed. Magic happens when I relax and just show up in every moment as authentically, honestly, and lovingly as I can.
“Trust in the perfection of the unfolding of my life. Whatever happens there is something magic in it. I don’t have to get anywhere because everything is already perfect. I just have to notice the magic, beauty, and perfection in everything, in everyone, and in every moment. Yes, there are bad things, bad people, bad events, and meaningless suffering, but I do what I can to change the things I can that are around me.”
“In my daily life, my happiness depends on just showing up, and trusting.”
Goal: Spend less time on devices and more time with friends and family
How: Define working and “device” hours
Working for yourself has incredible perks, but as fitness trainer Dave Caudal has discovered it can also become an excuse to work non-stop and be perpetually glued to devices.
“Being a slave to my devices is an unhealthy habit I’m choosing to break before the excuse of ‘it’s my job to be connected’ takes away from the most valuable thing: time spent actually connecting with people and things in a more personal, intimate way.”
In 2015 Dave spent over 250 nights in a hotel room while working around the world, so his aim for 2016 is to regain some control. He’s set himself exclusive “office hours” in 2016. “Outside of these structured office hours, I simply won’t be available to chat, reply lightning fast to an email, or post on one of my social media channels.” Instead, he’ll connect with nature, read a book or socialize in person with people that he wants to see.
What are your goals for the new year and how can you set a realistic roadmap towards achieving them?