Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
What a year 2020 has been. Although the coronavirus has challenged and altered our lives, this year seems to have flown by. I have been hearing many express the desire for 2021 to arrive already and to start anew. Naturally, when challenges appear to drag on, we look forward to a fresh start and positive change.
But how many of you have attempted to make those resolutions every year without following through? My strategy in the past was to list out anywhere between 20 to 30 resolutions, knowing that hitting at least a third of those resolutions would feel like a success. The unfortunate flipside was I judged the resolutions I didn’t achieve and, instead of feeling successful, I mentally beat myself up.
I will share three tricks I have learned over the years to deal with what I call the “New Year’s Resolution Blues.”
The first trick is to identify what your highest values are. The second trick is to have someone hold you accountable for the resolutions that you set and to create a reasonable timeline. The last trick is to know that you don’t have to wait until midnight December 31st to make your resolutions; you can choose to make them at any point in time while being present in the moment.
Identifying your Highest Values
When you can identify your highest values, you increase your potential to achieve your resolution(s). This strategy comes from Dr. John Demartini, a world-renowned human-behavior specialist who developed The Demartini Method®, assisting people with breaking through old conditioned patterns to achieve personal transformation.
According to Demartini, “When you live according to your highest values, you become inspired and awaken [your inner] genius.” Conversely “When you live according to your lower values, you require continuous outside motivation, and you suppress your genius.”
Demartini has a list of thirteen questions for you to ask yourself. Here is a sample:
• What’s in your environment?
• What do you spend your finances on?
• How do you spend your time?
These reflective questions help clarify your highest values; once you know them, you can make resolutions confident in having a higher chance of achieving them, as they’re now aligned with what you value the most. For more value-affirming questions go to drdemartini.com.
Setting Reasonable Goals
The second trick is the importance of setting achievable resolutions. When you set unreasonable goals with unrealistic timelines, your brain automatically shifts into overwhelm, which brings about frustration, irritation and disappointment, ultimately leading to self-sabotage.
According to scientific research, when you accomplish even small goals, your brain releases dopamine, a hormone that causes you to feel pleasure, happiness and motivation. Once you feel the effects of dopamine, you are more willing to take actions to repeat the same success you experienced before. Another study discovered that by setting a small or big goal whether near or far into the future, a part of your brain recognizes the desired outcome of succeeding as an essential part of who you are. This thus creates a situation in your brain that drives you towards achieving the goal in order to satisfy the brain’s construct.
Knowing this, I recommend Doran’s SMART goals, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. With your highest value in mind, create small goals that incorporate these elements to insure that you can achieve your New Year’s resolution and at the same time enhance your mental and emotional well-being.
Choose “Now” and the Present Moment
The last trick is to recognize that “freedom of choice” can be your greatest resource. Knowing that you have the freedom to put a stop to a challenging experience at any time and chart a new course of action now can be powerful. To do this, reframe the thoughts in your brain by listing out the downsides of keeping to the current course of action and at the same time listing out the benefits of making a shift to change course.
You can use this same reframing strategy if you have any reservations or fears about a future change. Until your mind can see how it benefits you to experience the future event that you are anxious or fearful about, you will never take action to make a shift.
Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now” stresses the importance of staying mindfully present in the moment. Choosing to take action now rather than later is essential, but doing it at the right time may make all the difference. In order to know the right timing, you need to pay attention to the “yes” or “no” of your body.
Finding Your Yes-or-No Answer
While your mind can lie to you, your body never lies. Have you ever been tired but due to a work deadline or an ailing parent or child, you pushed yourself through the fatigue with coffee or by sheer determination?
When you are in pain, your movement is hindered. Another way your body doesn’t lie is through touch. You know and can feel the difference receiving a hug from a loved one versus a person who makes your skin crawl. Your body’s breathing doesn’t lie.
When we are in fear, our breathing is shallow and sometimes stops altogether; when we are happy, our breathing is expansive and full. So in order to discover your yes-or-no answer, place your hands somewhere that is comfortable on your body. You can either sit in a comfortable chair or lie down and just start to breathe, then notice how your body feels. Once you feel comfortable, focus on a joyful experience or loved one; observe how your body feels, making a mental note. Now think of a challenging or painful experience and notice how the feeling in your body changes. As you may have guessed, your body’s reaction to the joyful experience is your “yes” answer, and the reaction to the negative experience is your “no” answer. Now you can ask yourself if the right time to take action is now, in a few weeks, or in a few months.
In conclusion, the way you perceive your life will shape how you experience it. Year 2020 has been a curse and a blessing for many. Individuals who found ways to thrive this year were likely the ones who were able to keep their center and build their resilience through the lockdowns, financial challenges and mental/emotional struggles. New Year 2021 is finally here: while you don’t always have control of what is going on around you, you have the power at any time to adapt and make shifts to improve and enhance your life and well-being.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (alohachiro.biz), in Mänoa valley, O’ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.