It’s the middle of January and you might still be on the motivation high of new intentions and goals. But, if you’ve already felt that little twinge of resistance and low motivation creep up, or know it’s coming, you’ll want to read the rest of this blog.
And, you’ll want to know losing motivation is normal, but that doesn’t mean your doomed to drop your goal.
Over the past decade plus of being in the health and wellness industry I’ve worked with thousands of people and heard all about their health aspirations, frustrations and challenges.
I’ve seen people rush to change their life 180 degrees to only crash and burn a short while later.
I’ve seen how nearly everyone struggles with consistency of practice.
I’ve heard people tell me they want to get healthier, stronger, clearer, meditate more, do more yoga, eat better, sleep better, just feel better…but they just don’t know where to begin.
I’ve heard a lot of people tell me about their self esteem issues and how trying to make positive change in their life ends up making them feel not good enough and even worse about themselves.
The truth is, I myself have struggled with all of these issues.
I’ve also seen and experienced breakthroughs.
I’ve seen people totally transform their health and happiness, make leaps and bounds of progress along the path of living a happier more liberated and energised life and find lasting, lifestyle change through the yoga path.
I know I’ve also found this, and when I look back over 5, 10, 15 years I really see how much the practice and wisdom of yoga has changed my life.
I know one thing, the healthier I am the happier I am — and I know that we all feel this way.
So, why when this is so obvious, do we struggle starting and sticking to the habits that make us feel healthy and happy?
There are a lot of answers to this question, and lots of debate, so maybe the better question is: What works? What makes us stick to the goals and habits we want? What are the people having breakthroughs doing?
While studying for my yoga health coaching certification we learned a lot about the latest research on habit science, a field dedicated to answering just these questions, and I gained some really valuable insights into why some parts of the yoga path work so well. Two of which I want to share with you to stay on track with your intentions for the year.
Identity Based Goals v Results Based Goals
The habit science research shows that when we start with identity based goals we’re much much more likely to stick to them. Where as if we set just results based goals we’re highly likely to drop them after a while.
Here’s what James Clear, a habit science blogger says about it and why the two have very different impacts on us:
“What we do now is a mirror image of the type of person we believe we are (either consciously or subconsciously). Our current behaviours are simply a reflection of our current identity. So, the first step in building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new positive identity.”
Sankalpa is a traditional part of yoga practice that helps us create identity based goals by making positive affirmation like, “I am vibrant, clear and grounded.” The practice is to repeat this daily.
The more you chew on this identity, the more you not only believe it, but also act based on it. You start to live up to that identity effortlessly simply because it feels right, and this guides you toward achieving your heartfelt desires and goals.
SET A SANKALPA:
1. Know that you already are who you need to be to fulfil your life’s purpose.
You are good enough! Yoga philosophy recognises that we each have a shinning light of divine power and wisdom within us, called our purusa, and most of our yoga practices simply work to get rid of anything covering that light. Yoga is the process of purification and getting rid of the gunk (mental, physical, emotional or lifestyle) that dims the light (one reason we detox).
Unlike typical resolutions that are based around a need to change ourselves, a sankalpa reinforces the best of who we already are – our true nature.
2. Ask, “how do I want to feel?” Listen to your heart-felt desires.
“We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish outside of ourselves, and we hope and pray that we’ll feel great when we get there. It’s backwards. And it’s burning us out.
What if, first, we got clear on how we actually want to feel in our life, and then we set our intentions?” Danielle Laporte, Desire Map
Let your vision of yourself and the world be big, and think about who and how you want to be in that vision. How does it makes you feel? Begin to list qualities of that vision and observe how your heart space feels as you list them. Some will deeply resonate with you, write them down.
3. Create a positive “I am” statement using a few of the words that most resonate from above.
Looking at the qualities from above as well as some of the intentions you’ve already set, can you find an underlying desire that unifies them all? Now make that an ‘I am’ statement in the present tense. For example, “I am happy, healthy and peaceful.” Don’t worry too much about the wording, this statement will likely change over time, but find a simple clear statement to start with that feels good when you say it.
This statement will anchor you in your true light and guide you through specific goal setting as well as moment to moment decisions — and keep you feeling how you want to feel!
PRACTICE: Repeat this statement before and/or after yoga/mediation. Paste it on sticky notes around your house. Repeat it to yourself when you feel down/anxious/overwhelmed etc.
Tips From the Habit Experts & Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Set a schedule for your goals rather than a deadline. “There is one common mistake we make when it comes to setting goals. The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.The problem with this strategy is that if we don’t achieve the arbitrary timeline that we set in the beginning, then we feel like a failure…even if we are better off than we were at the start. The end result, sadly, is that we often give up if we don’t reach our goal by the initial deadline.” -James Clear
- Make it so easy you can’t say no. Often we make our goals so big that when we set out to act on them they feel so daunting we give up. If we start with small steps that we can’t say no to then we actually act on our intentions and move in the direction we desire. Over time we’ll reach that big goal without getting overwhelmed. Small, continuous change = success & sustainability!
Yoga has taught me that all things are a practice, and it’s through coming back again and again to the practice that we find real change in our body, mind, health, relationships and life.
Adjust your goals to make sure they come from your heart, your core values, and then make a step by step plan that is so easy you can’t say no.
I use these principles in all of my programs, from the New Years Yoga Detox, 30 Day Evolution and 10 Week Transformation, and the results are powerful!
“You’re audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. Bit it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you — the shift in daily habits that would mean a reinvention of how you see yourself.” Seth Godin