It’s easy to think about goals as we enter a new year (new decade!) but harder to accurately create them and then stick to them. Goals are useful in helping us to stay on track towards objectives that are important to us in life and at work. But it is also true that only a handful of people reach their new year goals.
Read on for one sure way, plus steps, to help you stick to your goals. Once you "get it", you won’t want to look back. As a bonus, it’s totally free.
All that said, distractions, overwhelm, fears (including of success or failure), other real and perceived priorities or ill health may get in the way. You’re human, and things do happen that are somewhat out of your control. That said, one key thing you can do to help you to stay calm, focused, on track, less stressed and manage at a suitable pace is to learn to practice mindfulness. Once you "get it", you won’t want to look back.
What is mindfulness? You may hear various definitions based on people’s own experiences and style of language but I’d like to share my view in simple language that anyone can follow. This is also based on work I have done with my private clients to support them in living and working more meaningfully.
In a nutshell - and, as I say, this includes my own real life experiences as well as feedback from clients - mindfulness meditation involves:
*actively raising self-awareness and *learning/ retraining the mind - *to be present in the here and now (each and every moment).
It sounds easy right? But, as with anything meaningful, it will require your commitment and takes some “practice.”
Through various exercises, you can learn to be more present in current moments or activities. It is possible to bring your attention deliberately (ie, you have to think about actually doing this) to your breathing or another focal point such as a stone, figurine or colour (remember that, here, we are starting with simple mindfulness practice).
By bringing your attention deliberately to one such thing, you are asking your mind to do something it is not necessarily used to. You are re-training the mind, allowing it to take time out from the overwhelm of your daily grind. Be aware that, if you have not done this before, it takes a few attempts to do this as we are not naturally used to it. Rather, the busyness of today’s lifestyles take over, multi-tasking is the norm, more tasks creep in while trying to focus on one thing.
What does “bringing your attention deliberately” to something mean then?
· Imagine in your mind - or try for real – that you are about to start a task.
· Take a deep breath in (say for 3-4 seconds to start with) and a long, slow breath out (again, 3-4 seconds) before you begin the task.
· Now, bring your eyes and your mind specifically to what you are doing.
· Don’t let self criticism, the wandering mind, judgment about mindfulness or yourself or any other unhelpful thoughts stop you from trying – it may well feel strange to begin with, and these things may interrupt you, but it’s important to just go with it, refocusing back to the task with mindfulness.
· Let your mind focus patiently on the task, as if watching every moment like you’ve never done this before. Each part of the task draws your attention. What does it feel like to do it? What are you physically doing? What does it sound like? What do you sense? As you bring your focus to the task, deliberately, you are practicing a form of mindfulness. You are in the moment.
I must warn you that there are misconceptions about mindfulness. Mindfulness is not about enlightenment to a higher bright light or some religious guide (although it could be if you choose) especially as a beginner. It stemmed from eastern practices but has evolved to support anyone, anywhere. If you’d like to learn more as a beginner and go deeper with this, you can contact me anytime and I also highly recommend https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wherever-You-There-Are-Mindfulness/ by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It’s written in an easy to follow format by someone with significant experience.
Once you get the hang of mindfulness, not only can you use it without any cost, it offers exceptional benefits:
greater self esteem, emotional balance, resilience, less stress, lower blood pressure, anxiety and rumination management, less procrastination, greater health and immunity, mind management.
Would you like any one of these? Read on for even more reported benefits.
Mindfulness allows us to consciously take some time to be just with ourselves, allowing the mind to be somewhat removed from external problems, issues, vibrations and so forth. Take mindful breathing for example. Just as described above, this also requires your focus, this time on your breathing. Try it now. Here’s a simple exercise to start you off:
· Find a space where you can sit comfortably, upright on a chair or the floor, where you will be uninterrupted for ay 1 minute (in time, this will increase)
· Get comfortable.
· Close your eyes if you wish (it can help)
· Take a deep breath in and then out. About 3-4 seconds should be ideal for now.
· Repeat a couple of times and allow your mind to get into the space for mindful breathing.
· Bring your attention deliberately to (i) the breath that you take in and then the breath you take out. For me, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth works well when I’m practicing mindfulness. Remember, at this stage, you can try breathing in for a count of 1…2…3…4 and out for 1…2…3…4
· You may wish to place your hands on your knees or on your abdomen area – choose what is comfortable for you as you sit upright.
· Repeat your breathing with focus on the in and out breaths.
· If you hear external noises, or the mind wanders, t is absolutely ok! It’s normal as you embark on mindfulness. Just be kind to yourself and re-focus.
· After you have sensed you have been doing this for a minute – or the length of time you choose – I recommend rubbing the palms of your hands together for warmth, then covering your eyes with your hands. Slowly, behind your hands, open your eyes slowly.
· Gently remove your hands from your eyes.
· Mentally bring yourself back to the room.
· Continue with your day.
Remember, this is a simple step by step guide for those new to mindfulness but who are committed to making it part of their life for 2020 and beyond.
It isn’t necessarily going to be the easiest thing you do right now and, as I have hinted, there are some things you may need to come to terms with during the early stages of trying this out. These include:
1. Distractions such as external noises (cars, building work, the “ping” of a mobile phone, people talking in close proximity) 2. Distractions that are within you (tummy rumbling, pain, discomfort) 3. Mind wandering (your mind starts thinking of other things and is not in the moment for mindfulness) 4. Boredom 5. Expecting some miracle or overnight success with mindfulness 6. Judgment (from yourself or from other people mocking it without having committed to try it themselves) 7. Lack of authentic interest.
All of these obstructions have struck me at some point in my own mindfulness journey. Even, after many years, when my health or work is especially a priority, my mind may wander. I am human and so are you. And, as such, it’s helpful to accept early on that these things may get in your way but, more importantly, that you can nevertheless draw your mind back to mindfulness in relation to a task, to your breathing or whatever it is you decide is the focus of your early mindfulness practice. By the way, we call it “practice” but it simply means doing it.
I have been practicing mindfulness for several years in relation to breathing, walking and a array of other activities and I can assure you that, with regular practice, as required with any new art, you may truly lead a balanced, happier life. Once you attain this, you won’t want to look back.
I’ve taught people about mindfulness but any commitment to it can only come from you. That said, it may help to understand what others have reported from trying out this great technique for balance:
reduced blood pressure before surgery a clearer mind, more focus feeling refreshed ready to do more relaxed less stressed happier
As a sufferer of a chronic condition, I’ve never undergone any proposed surgery since my diagnosis despite regular pain. One of my goals continues to be to remain mentally and phycially healthy such that I can live without surgery. (it's been more than 6 years since my disgnosis). It is my strength and commitment to regularly use my mind tools and mindfulness that support me and ensure that I’m the positive person that I am through the suffering.
Mindfulness over time helps to see things more clearly and operate at a suitable pace, mentally and physically. This leads, therefore, to making more effective choices and decisions in life and at work. As you do this, and are more mindful (consciously) towards the steps required to attain your goals, the more realistic it is that you can acheive them. The power of this is priceless. You are in the driving seat.
Mindfulness is about wellbeing overall which I’m extremely passionate about for everyone. It’s because I know of its impact that I wish to share it. My service at present is to offer my training 1:1 ( face to face or zoom/SKYPE) as it offers clients the space to really be themselves and share as well as have some additional coaching support if appropriate. They get the best insights into mindfulness practice in a safe, secure and confidential space which they enjoy and from which they thrive. For those of you also curious about the benefits of mindfulness or coaching in today’s busy world, contact me now to hear how I’ve helped others just like you. #mindfulness #coaching #heretohelp #happiness #success #joy2020 #newyeargoals
As a coach, I help people to reach their goals and overcome obstacles to such goals. These can be practical and real but also mental blocks that just need to be unravelled in order to attain your greatest potential. As such, I ask you to please share this. In 2020, one of my goals is to help 1000 people experience the benefits of mindfulness and lead a happier life. I want to reach these people through you. There’s no charge. Just forward or share this information. Let’s just make the world a happier place.
If you would like to contact me at any time, I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/anitagohilthorp/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnitaGohilCoach/?ref=bookmarks . I’d love to hear from you.
The boring stuff: The views expressed are those of the author alone. They are not medical or other advice. If you feel vulnerable, anxious or depressed, it is recommended that you seek medical guidance from your medical practitioner. The author accept no liability in respect of action taken by the reader.