Resolutions, schmresolutions

It feels natural, at the turning of the year, to review the old year and anticipate the new one. We see what we’d like to do better and how to have more of the life we want.

However, I’ve come to the conclusion that New Year’s resolutions are well-meaning but ineffective, for several reasons:

  • How many people do you actually know who not only remember at year’s end what their resolutions for that year were but can actually say they kept them? (Actually, I am one. See my recent post on meditation.)
  • Resolutions are vague and grandiose without planning, commitment, and follow-through. They don’t take into account bad days, bad memories, changing your mind, new information, major life changes, or the lack of motivation that drudgery brings.
  • They presume your idea won’t change all year long. As if we were static beings from one year to the next except for this one thing we want to change!

If you’ve set resolutions before and failed to keep them, why not try something else?

  • Make sure your resolution is something in your control. Unfortunately, world peace takes a lot of cooperation! But you could resolve to take a class on conflict resolution, or practice a peaceful meditation technique, or volunteer with a peace organization.
  • Chunk it down. Fifteen minutes a day of practice on a musical instrument will make a huge difference at the end of a year. Or make it for a shorter period of time. And…just because it is a new year doesn’t mean resolutions have to be for the whole year! Some things just don’t take that long. You could learn to salsa and be ready to go clubbing in way less than a year, I imagine.
  • Make it fun. If you don’t look forward to it, what’s going to keep you motivated?

That said, my mind has been full of things I’d like to do in 2013:

  • get good enough on the pennywhistle to join a jam session without embarrassing myself
  • learn to balance for 10 seconds in handstand away from the wall
  • get massage or acupuncture frequently
  • build a steady clientele for my massage practice and earn a certain amount
  • solve car problem (repair old car or get a newer one)
  • read more
  • write down creative ideas
  • take tango lessons
  • join a regular group meditation
  • listen to Brane Power CDs every day for a month
  • do the candida diet for the month of January
  • be awake and present as much as possible

It’s nice to have these noted and public. At the end of 2013, we’ll see which I actually did! I am curious too!

Practicing wellness of body, mind, heart, and spirit: James Altucher’s Daily Practice

One of my favorite discoveries in the blogging world is James Altucher. He’s a good prolific writer, inventive, irreverent, smart, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, and he comes across as a regular person who has learned from his mistakes.

I get the impression that he’s done really, really well in business, lost it all, started over, more than once. HBO, hedge funds, start-ups, investments, Wall Street, whatever. I don’t really know that world, but I imagine his blog reaches a lot of people in the financial world.

He’s also experienced some relationship ups and downs and a marriage that didn’t work out, and now he is married to Claudia Altucher, a yoga teacher. He practices yoga.

What impresses me most in his writing is that he combines his financial background with amazingly sensible wisdom about how to live life well. I follow him on Twitter and Facebook and look forward to reading his blog posts.

You can check out his blog here: The Altucher Confidential: Ideas for a World Out of Balance.

The reason I’m writing about him here on my blog is because he advocates doing something he calls The Daily Practice, which he calls

a simple tool to improve, inspire, and unlock greatness.

It’s pure genius and truly simple. He has three big goals in life:

  • He wants to be happy.
  • He wants to eradicate unhappiness in his life.
  • He wants every day to be as smooth as possible. No hassles.

If you’d like to achieve those goals in your life, read on.

James discovered that every time he hit a low point in life, after a major failure, feeling unhappy and hassled, he did something every day for himself in four areas that helped move him closer to the three big goals. You can do this too:

  1. Do something physical for yourself to get and keep yourself in good shape. He mentions doing yoga every day and exercising vigorously enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes. Being healthy is a prerequisite for being happy, and exercise also helps calm your mind. You get to choose how you want to do this.
  2. Do something emotionally good for yourself. He mentions that if someone is a drag on you, cut them out or minimize your time with them, and if they lift you up, spend more time with them. He mentions being honest without being hurtful and never doing anything you don’t want to do—he doesn’t go to weddings.
  3. Do something to stimulate yourself mentally. He suggests thinking of 10 businesses you can start from home or listing every productive thing you did yesterday. You could learn a foreign language in daily sessions, memorize a song, or do a crossword puzzle, whatever works for you. Altucher carries around waiter pads to write down his ideas.
  4. Practice something spiritual, which can include praying, meditating, being grateful, forgiving, or studying a spiritually uplifting text. I like this suggestion: You can also meditate for 15 seconds by really visualizing what it would be like meditate for 60 minutes. 

Altucher says every time he has hit a low point and then started doing things in these four areas every day, his life would improve. He’d begin to feel lucky. Ideas would flow, he’d start executing them, and people would help him. People would smile at him.

He calls this improving the internal fire. I think that concept is from yoga, but you get the picture. Living fully, in joy, lit from within.

I get that this is a great practice! And I want to think that I already do this, but you know what? I don’t keep track of what I do every day, and I haven’t tied my behavioral choices to three big goals. I have not made a commitment to work on myself daily in specific ways in these four areas.

Well, James has thought of that, and he has set up a website called The Daily Practice where you can set up your own activities in the four categories (plus a new fifth one, Fun) as well as how often you want to do them, and track your actual behavior.

It’s in beta right now, but I’m trying it out, and so far everything seems to work.

Also, your big three goals might be a little different. Who doesn’t want happiness? But I actually don’t mind a few occasional not-too-major hassles because they challenge me to grow, and that gives me something to write about. So my third goal is to spread the wellness and joy to others.

If you’d like to set up physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and fun challenges for yourself and track your activity using The Daily Practice, go to tdp.me and set yourself up! It’s also a Facebook app, but you don’t have to share your postings. In fact, if you’re my friend, please don’t. TMI. Tell me your results, instead.

Today I have done a tarot reading and watched a fun movie (fun), meditated for 15 minutes and forgave someone I had problems with (spiritual), connected with two people who lift me up (emotional), read something stimulating (mental), and did sun salutations and slept well (physical).

Thanks, James!