A New Beginning – How to have your best year ever
By Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 January 1st is the beginning of a new year** and a time when people decide to make changes in their lives. Although the traditional ‘New Year’s resolutions’ are rarely kept, they at least give us insights about what isn’t working in our lives.

We all need some stimulus to initiate a change in what we do each day; it could be as simple as a resolution or as complete as a change in a job or relationship. Whatever the proposed change, it is only a “want to” until it is carried out.

 Over the years we develop a multitude of habits that may or may not continue to serve us after first started. They become automatic and most aren’t even noticed; they become part of our lifestyle. Many label habits as “bad” because we don’t necessarily notice the “good” ones as much. Smoking is labeled a ‘bad’ habit, while brushing your teeth would be a ‘good’ one. How do we effectively move past the ‘resolution’ phase to actually incorporate the wanted change into our daily lives?

 First, it takes more than just ‘wanting’ to make a change – there has to be a commitment made to do the work involved, and keep at it. During the ‘new year’s resolutions’ phase of change we usually decide on a number of changes instead of picking one to work on. This dilutes the proposed actions toward change and eventually causes failure to continue any of them. Pick the one thing that tops your list of wanted changes and make a commitment to work with it until it is completed. Write it down in such a way that it becomes an affirmation.

 For example, if you want to exercise more or begin an exercise program, instead of saying or writing “I will exercise more this year” or “I will go to the gym x number times a week”, write an affirmation with specifics in the present tense. For example, “I am enjoying my two mile run every other morning and love the exuberant feeling my body has when I finish.” A statement like this filled with emotion stimulates your mind and body to continue (even if you haven’t started yet). Once you have picked the change you want to focus on and write an affirmation, the next step is to convince yourself that it is worth the effort. This may be your biggest challenge. Make sure it is your desire and not someone else’s for you

 You may also want to write the answers to questions like - “what will be the result of my making this change?” or “how will my life be different when this change is made?” or “what is the benefit of making this change?” Looking at it another way you might ask “what if I don’t make this change, where will I be then?” You see that it is not just a matter of deciding to make a change and then plunge into it. You must first prepare your mind for accepting that the change is needed, beneficial, and worth the effort. This is why most New Year’s resolutions fail; we just plunge into changing something without psychological preparation.

 Once you have actually begun making the change, a momentum must be established and maintained. Otherwise, you will stop when it seems too much of an effort, or you don’t notice results immediately. This is why weight-loss programs fail; people want instant results and failure to get them stops progress. I use what I call the three P’s – persistence, perseverance, and patience – to maintain progress when starting a new program or making a change. It takes consistent effort to change the way we have done things for years. As soon as we let off on the persistence, our old habits creep back in and we fail. Be patient with yourself. It will take time to make a change, so stick with it.

 In my classes about revealing inner peace, I insist that the students work on the lessons and exercises daily. Only through consistent effort can they hope to recreate their lives so that peace prevails instead of stress. In sports, music, or any kind of function that calls us to step up to challenge ourselves at a new level, we must keep moving forward and practice consistently. So it is with making changes and learning new ways of living in whatever facet of our lives that calls us to do that.

 What if you could start over and start your life again? What would you do different? How could you expand those moments in your life that were absolutely the best times of your life? It is the beginning of a new year for you right now; a time to reflect on what hasn’t worked and what has. It is time to start something anew, to tweak a bit here and a bit there. Like the helmsman of a sailboat tacking first one way and then another, but constantly keeping a bearing for the destination, you can change direction now and be back on track.

 Consider you life as it was, as it is, and as it could be. Is it time for a shift, a change in course? You are absolutely the captain of your life, the director of where you want to go. Only you can make the decision to continue doing what you have always done and get the same results, or change something and discover a new way of living the life you have now. A quote I read recently states: “To get what we’ve never had, we must do what we’ve never done.” I think this says it all. Is it time for you to take a first step into the unknown? Go for it!


 **Using the Gregorian calendar most of the world now uses.


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