Don’t Make Resolutions This Year

Last year at around this time I wrote about how to make resolutions that stick, and after reflecting on my 2016 resolutions, I did do a pretty good job at sticking up with them.

But this year I’m trying out something different.

With all goals, big and small, there are going to be some that you achieve, and some that take longer than you thought, and others that you just flat out don’t achieve and never do. And sometimes this can be pretty daunting and even disheartening to think about.

That’s why this year I’m not making any resolutions. 

Instead, I’m choosing one quote (and possibly a big word or mantra) to live by for the year. And that quote is:

“Leave not for tomorrow that which can be done today”

The reason why I am choosing this quote is because it’s short and to the point. We so often get caught up in saying “I’ll just do that tomorrow” that it never gets done.

This quote is one I can repeat to myself whenever I am falling into this habit and snap me back into it so that I don’t procrastinate, and so I don’t leave work off for later when I am able to do it today.

Reenforcing a quote is much easier to do and to keep yourself accountable to than a list of goals or resolutions for a whole year. They’re hard to keep track of, they’re hard to set, and often times they never happen.

Keeping a quote on the top of your mind, writing it down at your desk, and repeating it to yourself whenever you need it is simple, easy, and effective, helping you live a stronger, healthier, and happier life in the new year.

What will your quote or mantra be for 2017? Let me know in the comments below!

Empathetic Compassion and New Experiences

For those of you who don’t know, I love yoga and new experiences that force me to step outside of my comfort zone. So it’s only logical that I combine these two ideologies to try a new form of yoga.

Last week myself and a friend went to an Aerial Yoga class. If you’re not familiar with this type of yoga, imagine a fabric hammock that’s attached to a single point on the ceiling. So it looks like just a loop of silk but you can unroll it to be a fairly long tube.

The idea of Aerial Yoga (or at least what was communicated to us) was that the connection to the ground and the hammock creates a new challenge as well as deeper stretches with the help of gravity. And this most definitely was the case.

From aerial downward dogs to complete inversions without using your hands, you really got to stretch very deeply. But it did hurt. The hammock at times (depending on the position and execution) really dug into your skin. So I definitely recommend wearing tight clothes that cover most of your skin, and maybe even an extra layer.

As everyone started to get the basics down, we stared to get into more complex movements. And throughout the class, myself and the other members of the class found themselves giggling from the awkwardness and challenge of it all.

At first I thought this was annoying, and that myself and my own laughing was taking away from the whole “experience”, but midway through the class and after reflecting on it now, I really came to appreciate it.

It was very clear that there were some Aerial veterans in the room, and it was also VERY clear that most of us weren’t. And because most yoga styles are performed in silence, I felt bad for those going to the class who were there to really work. But as everyone continued to giggle quietly by themselves or with a friend, I looked around and could see the people who were clearly very experienced, and they themselves were smiling.

Sometimes for a very tough pose to set up and get into, the pros would just continue on themselves, locked deep in focus and minded their own business. Sometimes they would smile on and giggle. And it wasn’t a giggle that was making fun someone, it was a contagious giggle from others who were as well.

What I took away from this was not only that Aerial Yoga is hard and that I want to do it again, but that there is a great quality within us, the Mind & Matter community, that strives for new experiences. Being uncomfortable doesn’t scare us if we know it will lead to more strength, health, and happiness.

It also demonstrated an even greater quality within us, that everyone in this class had: empathetic compassion.

We should never laugh in the face of others for stepping outside of their comfort zone or attempting to become a stronger, healthier, and happier self. Recognizing that people are making the effort, no matter how much they are struggling, is something that should be commended, not made fun of or scoffed.

We have all been in uncomfortable and new situations, so we can all relate. We all have the ability to embrace empathetic compassion, and especially because this example relates to health and wellness, it is no laughing matter.

The strong character and will of people even stepping into that room to try something new right beside those who can float gracefully over the mat with ease demonstrates their own strength and confidence within themselves. No matter how hard or ugly it may look. They’re there, working just as hard, if not harder, than the more experienced acquaintance beside them.

So continue to try new things and to not be afraid of failure. Let that be the fire that ignites your drive and focus to achieve the highest form of what success means to you.

If you’re afraid of failure, that means you want to succeed. If you aren’t afraid of failure, it means that whatever you’re doing doesn’t mean enough to you that you could quit at any time and not give a damn that you DIDN’T succeed. 

And practice empathetic compassion for others that are in new situations or environments and who are ready and willing to learn from your own experiences. Laugh, embrace, and have fun together because we are all on our way to a stronger, healthier, and happier life, and we can’t do it alone.   

Fork on the left, phone on the right.

I was recently at a restaurant for my sister’s birthday when I noticed something immediately after walking in. We were in a small little place called Jack’s Wife Freda (excellent food by the way) and we were all waiting for our table. After taking a quick glance around the restaurant I noticed that almost every single couple, group, or even lone diner, had their cell phones out on top of the dinner table. Some face up, some face down.

This is not the first discovery or notice I’ve taken to this phenomenon, however it was definitely the most dramatic and obvious.

Now seeing this immediately frustrated and disappointed me. It made me realize how much our smartphones have taken over our lives and how much power these devices have over us. That’s right, these phones control us, not the other way around.

It seems like with the emergence of these phones that we have become incapable of even putting them away for 45 minutes to have dinner with a friend or significant other and only be thinking about, and living in, that moment. Our phones can’t leave our peripheral vision even during a time when we should (and claim to want) to be with those around you, and be completely present in the situation.

Now some may see a buzz or see a notification pop up and immediately grab it, no matter if we are talking or the person we are with is talking. We check it, maybe we respond, then put it back down. But even if we don’t check it, it still lights up or makes a sound. Very rarely do I find that if our phones are on the table that we actually silence them completely. So whether you think you’re being nice and not checking your phone, the people you are with still feel the buzz on the table or see your screen light up.

I really want to challenge you, myself, and all of these offenders to change the way we all behave. Because I know I fall into this habit from time to time. It’s very hard to keep this post from being a rant on how much I dislike this, so try to take this as genuinely as I mean it, no matter how I may be coming across.

The people we spend time with in person, face to face, deserve the respect to be the only one on your mind, the only thing you are focused on. It’s crazy to me that this phenomenon exists and that it can be seen anywhere you go. When we had flip phones we didn’t put them on the table while we ate with others, but because our smartphones connect us to everything and anything, they serve as an extension of your own self and they become an itch, a habit, a force that you can’t ignore for even an hour. Certain circumstances will obviously arise where this situation may be a necessity, but for most others, why can’t we all leave it in our pockets, jackets, or purses?

Our conversations are constantly being interrupted by the buzz or flash of a screen, and it can cause frustration to those on the other side of the table. It’s hurting the way we interact with others, it takes our attention away from the people and the things around you. Take the time to appreciate the fact that you are with others and be present. Leaving your phone off the table, silenced, or even better, turned off, will not only allow the other person to enjoy your company more, but will allow you to focus all of your attention on others and not what post your friend just tagged you in on Instagram.


How to Make Resolutions That Stick

It’s a new year and a time when everyone makes a resolution or two that last about a month. A lot of these resolutions have to do with living a healthier life and being more active or eating healthier. With whatever resolution you may have, I’m here to help make it stick and actually achieve it. Here are 4 things you can do to make sure you tackle your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Set Specific GOALS

The reason why a lot of resolutions fail is because they are just resolutions. What we really should do is set year goals. Resolving to “be healthier” in 2016 is too vague and not motivating. Setting a goal to “lose 2 pounds a month for 12 months” is a better way to keep yourself accountable. There are short term progress goals, but year-long end results.

Setting a goal to “be healthier” or “go to the gym more” is easy to quit. If you go to the gym for the month of January, when work is still in holiday mode and everyone is working hard and seemingly motivated at sticking to their resolutions, it seems like there is no stopping you. But when that January kick ends, work or school starts to pick up, it’s easy to drop your vague and goal-less resolution. The beauty of being specific and creating year long goals means that it’s okay that your progress fluctuates. Using the example above, wanting to lose 2 pounds a month means 24 pounds in the year. So you know that if you only lose 1 pound in February, you know you have to make up that pound in March.

These types of goals keep you accountable and allow you to track your progress with hard numbers.

2. Write Them Down

Every year, I put a note in my phone that lists “Everything I Will Achieve in [insert year]”. Throughout the year, as I complete some of the short term and long term goals, I put a checkmark next to it. It helps me see what I’ve completed and reminds me what I must do and accomplish next. Below is a snippet of what I’ve got coming for 2016, and I encourage you do to the same.


3. Don’t Try to Conquer the World

Keep your goals manageable – don’t set out to lose 10 pounds in 1 week. Set realistic goals that will encourage you. Attainable goals are self-motivating. When you achieve what you set out, you’ll want to continue towards your ultimate year-end goals.

Remember: Slow and steady wins the race.

4. Make them FUN – Throw a Personal/Silly One in There

The goals that you set for 2016 ultimately must be ones you can achieve and ones that will be FUN. If you’re not having fun on your way to achieving your goals then you’ll never actually complete them. Nothing you do should feel miserable. It may be difficult, but knowing what you want and working hard to get after it, all while doing it in a way that is most fun will keep you going.

Do some with a friend to keep yourself motivated and accountable, so instead of losing 10 pounds yourself or reading 1 book a month yourself, work out or read with a friend who has that same or similar goal. It’ll make it a social and fun activity to do together and will ensure you stick with it.

I also recommend having a silly/strictly fun goal for the new year. Instead of making all of your goals about fitness or weight loss or being a better friend, do something for you, too. Set out a goal to make your own Halloween costume from scratch this year, make it a goal to finally watch all of the movies on your “must see” list. While these should not make up your entire list of goals for 2016, they’re easy ones that will be fun and keep you motivated to achieve your other goals.

So good luck and have a happy, healthy and successful 2016.