Happy 2018! At this time of the year, many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions: get fit; spend more time with family; lose weight; quit <insert bad habit here>; do more <insert good habit here>; save money; learn a new language etc. Or maybe your goals are work related: complete project x; achieve <insert target metric here>; get a promotion; master a new skill; deliver an innovative product or service. It’s a great time to think about goals and what you would like to achieve by the end of the year. However, New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep and are often broken.

Maybe you find yourself making big plans and setting great goals, only to find yourself not following through. We often let ourselves get distracted or find an excuse to quit, telling ourselves stories about why it’s OK not to stick with it: “One more piece of cake won’t make a difference”; “It’s too cold to go for a run today”; “my efforts don’t make a difference so why should I bother” etc.

Mindfulness can play a big part in your ability to stick to your goals and achieve success, along with possibly a little self-restraint. The Elements of Mindfulness Success show how these inter-related factors can enable you to turn your goals into results.

Mindfulness helps you ensure all elements are aligned – the better the alignment, the more likely you are to turn your goals into success.

a.  Objective – what you want to achieve.

Set your intentions and define your objective as clearly as possible. Be clear on the goal (or goals) and target metrics, and identify a plan to proceed.

b.  Attention – what you notice.

Your objectives drive what you do or do not pay attention to. Things that don’t seem to align with your goals may not even register on your internal attention radar, while you may pay a lot of attention to those things that you think will lead to success. With mindfulness, you can better focus your attention on what will really help you achieve your goals and learn to ignore those that don’t.

c.  Mindfulness – how aware you are.

What you pay attention to impacts your awareness, or mindfulness. Mindfulness is your ability to be fully present, completely aware of what’s in front of you here and now, and not be reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on. Without mindfulness, thoughts and perceptions can distract your attention resulting in wasted time and effort on things that don’t align to your goals. Remaining mindful enables you to be aware of what diverts your focus, maintain concentration as well as distinguish between your perceptions and reality that cause so many misinterpretations.

d.  Choice – how you think and act.

How mindful you are will influence your choices. Mindfulness allows you to be more discerning over how you see things, which enables clearer thoughts, better decisions and wiser actions. With mindful awareness you choose what you do, how you think and how you behave, leading to more valuable action towards your goals.

e.  Action – what you do.

Your choices will determine your actions. By making better choices through mindfulness, you perform the right tasks and activities ensuring your actions align to goals through clearer thinking. Remaining mindful as you perform your actions will also ensure you apply yourself effectively and maximise your results.

f.  Success – what you achieve.

The actions you take will lead to the outcome you achieve. Mindfulness helps you ensure all elements are aligned – the better the alignment, the more likely you are to turn your goals into success. If the results are not as you expected, iterate. Set new objectives and maintain mindfulness to work towards your next achievement.

In short: Objectives drive attention; attention impacts awareness; awareness influences choices; choices determine right actions; actions lead to success.

Oh, and my new year’s resolution isn’t so much a resolution, but an aspiration that His Holiness the Dalai Lama talked about in his new year’s address delivered during his address at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies’ 50th Anniversary in Sarnath, Varanasi, India on January 1, 2018 (view His speech here) https://youtu.be/G_5NJF3LPxE ); on January 1 2019. I hope to look back on 2018 without any regrets, guilt, shame or remorse and simply remain happy, and hope all beings also remain happy and content.