Coach: You are half-way through the year with your New Year’s Resolutions. How are you getting on with them?
Me: Good. I’m bang on schedule. I have managed to put three of them in place. Just as I had planned to do.
Coach: Well done. That is good news. Do you think it has changed your life for the better?
Me: It certainly has done that. My aim is to reduce the tension in my life. To learn to cope better with my inner self-critic. To ease the pain of not being able to do all that I want to do. To make some small changes. Ones to make me more comfortable with myself. More relaxed. More at ease with myself. And I now feel a lot better about myself than I did at the start of the year.
New Year’s Resolutions No. 1 “Reading for pleasure”
Coach: The first of your New Year’s Resolutions is to read more for pleasure. Have you made a habit of this? And how does it help you?
Me: I read a lot about news, politics, sport and positive psychology. But I don’t read much for pleasure. So I want to read for pleasure for ten hours each week. I see it as a small change that can help me to lighten up. And it most certainly has done that for me.
Coach: That makes sense. Tell me how easy it was for you to develop this good habit?
Me: Making time for it was harder than I thought. My leisure time is scarce and ten hours wasn’t easy to find.
Coach: It never is but you did manage to find it?
Me: Yes I did but it was not easy to make a habit of using it to read for pleasure.
Coach: We always think it is easier for us to change our habits than it is in fact. You need to work at it for at least two months. And even then you can lose it in a few weeks.
New Year’s Resolutions No.2 “Meditation”
Coach: The second of your New Year’s Resolutions is to meditate. Tell me how you got on with it?
Me: Fine. I enrolled for the meditation course at www.headspace.com. And it worked wonders for me.
Coach: Great. It came to you easily enough I take it?
Me: No it wasn’t easy. I had to work at it. It took me time to learn to stop my mind from wandering. I am still amazed at the constant flow of thoughts that stream through my mind.
Coach: Yes isn’t learning to calm the mind quite a challenge?
Me: Tell me about it. I took months to master it. But I must say that it was well worth the effort. The joy of calmly letting the stream of thoughts flow by without engaging in them is sheer bliss.
New Year’s Resolutions No. 3 “Breathing Exercises”
Coach: How did you get on with the breathing exercises?
Me: Better than I expected. It took me the best part of a month to master the art of the deep breathing. I put one hand on my chest and the other on my belly. I take a deep breath in through my nose. The idea is to inflate the diaphragm and not just the chest with enough air to stretch my lungs.
Coach: Does it help you to relax?
Me: Very much so. I do ten deep breaths a minute for ten minutes. Usually just before I go to bed. It helps me to sleep more soundly as well as relaxing me.
Coach: I am impressed. Do you do this every night?
Me: I get to do it most nights. Sometimes I might miss a night but never more than one a week. So far so good. And I really feel the benefit of it.
What do you put your success down to…
Coach: Well done. I’m impressed with what you have achieved. Tell me what you put your success down to?
Me: The decision to tackle one resolution at a time was a big help. This was new to me. I have always worked on more than one at a time. And if I did so this year I doubt if I would have got past the end of January.
Coach: I’m afraid most people fall into this trap.
Me: Asking where and how a resolution is likely to fail helped me to spot potential problems. And to take steps to deal with them. For example, to find ten hours a week to read for leisure I would have to drop some other activities. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. If I wasn’t prepared for it I doubt if I could have coped with it as well as I did.
Coach: Yes this is a key piece of work you need to do in advance.
Me: Your advice to me to work on each one of my resolutions for two months at a time. It made a huge difference. As it takes that time to form a habit. So I worked on each resolution for two months. And when I had made a habit of it I was able to move on to the next one.
Coach: The way you used this idea sets a great example for others to follow.
Me: The reviews at the end of each month kept my mind on the task. I was able to earmark issues that I needed help with. For discussion at the end of each month. They helped me stay on track. I used them to report the progress I had made. And to solve problems as they arose.