10 spring resolutions
As the chill of winter melts into the promise of spring, Mother Nature is evolving and changing. For many, the coming of spring is an opportune time to restore and refresh — time to clean out the cupboards, to toss out the old and make room for the new. Spring is also a time of rebirth and renewal and so, too, it can be a time to declutter your mind, to clear out those mental cobwebs that are stopping you from becoming the person you want to be: vibrant, alive and filled with a sense of purpose.
In our lives we can feel weighed down with old hurts, grudges and past beliefs, leading to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. Letting go of these negative ways of thinking renews our energy levels and empowers us to make positive changes in our lives.
Making conscious choices
As with spring-cleaning your home, making changes means making conscious, informed decisions. Re-evaluating your life and committing yourself to changing the things that no longer bring you joy can mean making decisions about what to throw away, what to dust off and clean up and what to modify or adapt for a new lease on life.
Do you need to scrub up your employment skills or carefully polish a tarnished relationship? Perhaps you need to revamp your perceptions of who you are and toss out those old ways of thinking so you can understand and overcome issues that are holding you back.
Are there things that are stopping you from creating the life you want? Do you feel you might have left it too late to make the changes in your life you want? It’s never too late — a great time to start is right now.
Learning to let go
Sometimes people hang on to things they shouldn’t. To make room in your life for new experiences, you need to let go of others. Psychologist Meredith Fuller says this means prioritising what’s important to you and then evaluating what work needs to be done to make the changes you want.
“You need to clear things out so there is enough space,” she says. “Think about what you love and what you want to keep, then look at what things are too painful or too hard to maintain in your life and let them go.”
When you discover what you want to change and begin to work towards it, magic will start to happen. Writing down positive changes and putting them in a journal makes them all the more concrete.
Susan Mathew, transformational life coach from The Refined Mind, says after you jot them down, tape them to your desk, the fridge, or wherever you’ll see them frequently to reinforce what you want to achieve. “This will visually put into your conscious mind that this is the new you,” she says. Then break your list into small, manageable steps. Identify the changes you’d like to make in order from the easiest to the most challenging and begin with the easiest.
Fuller says beginning with a positive or enjoyable goal increases your chances of success in the long run: “The reason for this is that, once you have a sense of achievement, energy manifests itself and creates more energy — it gathers momentum, so it makes your other goals all the easier to attain.”
The power of imagery
When you want to make changes in your life, challenge any negative thought that pops into your mind and discard it. In its place, visualise the changes you’d like to make. Mark Flanigan, metaphysical counsellor and naturopath, says it can help if you use imagery: “Imagine you’re looking at the world and your life through a camera lens. If you focus on the negative things you see, that’s going to be your experience of your world. Change your focus and you’ll see something completely different.”
Destress and simplify
To gain some sense of perspective in the everyday chaos of life, take stock of where you are. Do you need to simplify your life?
Many people are unwittingly caught up in the frantic pace of living; they’re constantly in a state of feeling rushed and stressed. This type of stress is counterproductive and unhealthy. When living in a state of perpetual anxiety it’s easy to lose sight of what is important to you. Slow down. Learn to ditch the not-so-important stuff and take some time out to smell the roses.
Quieten your mind
Even if you’re not in a state of constant stress, inside the noisy labyrinth of day-to-day living, people can still struggle to make positive changes. To assess and evaluate what you need to change, you need to quieten your mind. Mathew says energy-draining mental noise such as anxiety, worry and regret can prevent people from moving forward and embracing the life they want.
“Learning to still your mind will help you rid it of beliefs that aren’t serving you any longer so you can replace them with empowering beliefs,” says Mathew, adding that decluttering your mind is really about living in the present moment.
“Many people live their lives with an expectation that the next moment will be better than this one,” she says. “It’s a never-ending cycle until all of a sudden we realise that all those moments were all we had. That’s why it’s so important to be present.”
Living in the present moment helps us to gain clarity and insight. If we are focused on each moment and the joy it brings, we can live richer, more rewarding lives. To find your inner sanctuary, it can help to practise the gentle art of meditation. Even if you’ve never meditated before, you can do simple breathing exercises that will help you to relax.
“Breathing in deeply into the diaphragm and breathing out slowly, focusing on the gentle movement of your inhalations and exhalations, takes your mind away from worrying incessant thoughts,” says Mathew.
You can also incorporate a simple mantra to help you stay focused.
The prospect of change strikes fear into the hearts of many. Even when they know change is good for them, sometimes people can remain stuck. They resist the urge to embrace change for many reasons. One of them is fear of failure.
If you struggle with fearing you’ll fail, you need to be aware of your self-talk. Flanigan says it comes down to a fundamental view of thinking that can create a positive or negative mindset. “Be very aware of what you ask yourself — it can be either empowering or disempowering. You might think, ‘I’m never going to lose weight.’ Instead think, ‘OK, how can I get fitter?’”
And if, despite your initial efforts, things don’t go according to plan right away, don’t worry. Instead, regroup and stay focused. Success might be right around the corner. Mathew says failure is often part of the journey on the road to success: “Remind yourself it’s OK to fail — just ask anyone who’s successful and has achieved amazing things in their life. When we discover a way that doesn’t work, we’re one step closer to finding a way that does.”
Change and fear of failure are often accompanied by deeper, more intense feelings of apprehension and worry. Fuller describes this as a transitional fear.
“Some people don’t fear the actual changes they’re making; it’s a fear of the unknown, of what lies on the other side, once they’ve taken that first step,” she says.
There really is only one cure for that. You can’t predict the future, so sometimes in life you just have to take a leap of faith. Close your eyes, hang on tight and jump. And you never know — you just might to begin to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
It’s never too late
Perhaps you might have thought about going to university, creating works of art on canvas or visiting far-flung, exotic places. But before you’d even thought the idea through, you were stopped dead in your tracks with a single nagging thought —
“I just can’t do this” — and suddenly your mind is filled with excuses.
Living with regret is living with sadness in your heart and, while you cannot revisit or rewrite the past, you can create your own future — one filled with hope and promise. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s never too late to start living the life you want, says Mathew: “You might think you’re too old, but life isn’t about numbers and wrinkles; it’s about who you are choosing to be right now.”
Every precious moment counts in your life. Deferring and stalling breed inaction and wasted moments. But sometimes you just get stuck. According to Mathew, many people get caught in the planning stage and can’t move forward. A great way to beat procrastination is to build habits, she says: “We can be in the habit of procrastination but we can learn to be in the habit of taking action. When we build habits, we’re actually building neural pathways to get things done. Eventually, it literally becomes easier to do a task than not do it.”
There are also some visual exercises you can do to help overcome procrastination. Flanigan says it’s all linked to the power of your imagination: “Imagine the activity you are currently doing, the one that is preventing you from consciously doing what you want to do, taking up a whole picture frame. In the bottom right corner, imagine the activity you keep procrastinating about in a tiny little picture frame, then visually expand the small desired activity, smashing the large one apart.”
Are you a quitter?
Perhaps you’re not a procrastinator but find yourself unwittingly in the clutches of procrastination’s disruptive cousin: the quitter. Some people are great at starting projects but rarely or never get them finished. As a result, their homes and their minds are liberally littered with incomplete projects, leading to feelings of inadequacy and stress.
If you’re getting overwhelmed by incomplete projects cluttering up your life, re-evaluate them. Listen to your heart: if the project isn’t something you’re passionate about, ditch it. Or can you salvage or revamp some of the project and turn it into something else? To stop being overwhelmed by incomplete tasks, have clear goals for what you want to achieve and a deadline for achieving them.
Overcoming past trauma
Another reason people struggle to move forward and embrace change is linked to events that have shaped their lives. Traumas that have occurred in your past live only in your mind. But it can be difficult to process, understand and accept some things in life. If you’re having trouble moving forward and past traumas and events are stopping you from being who you want to be, counselling can help.
There may be moments in your life that weigh heavily on your heart — unless you let them go. According to Fuller, saying goodbye to harmful relationships and grievances is liberating: “Letting go of past hurts and forgiving others who you feel have done you an injustice lightens your emotional load so you can move on.”
The same applies if you feel you have wronged someone. Offer a heartfelt apology and do what you can to make it right. You’ll feel better for it.
Once you’ve decluttered your mind and made positive changes, you need to take time out to check that you’re on track with your original goals. Are you happy with the choices and decisions you’ve made? Is your life filled with a sense of purpose? Life is short. You have the power to make every moment count.
Carrol Baker writes for lifestyle and health publications across Australia. She loves climbing mountains, trekking and exploring the great outdoors with her young family.