• As the end of January approaches, the struggle to stick to your new year’s resolutions can become increasingly challenging

  • Meditation expert Graham Doke, narrator of the meditation app Anamaya reveals his top five tips for staying focused 

  • If you feel you would benefit from talking to a therapist, you can find one here

As the end of January approaches, the struggle to stick to your new year’s resolutions can become increasingly challenging. It’s more than likely you will find yourself wanting to give up – or at least caving in and having a ‘cheat’ day here or there! However, the reality is that you chose to make these resolutions for a reason, and by sticking to them you are far more likely to have a more successful 2015. So how can you overcome temptation and avoid throwing in the towel? 

1) Train the mind

Making a resolution and working towards a goal not only requires physical actions, but dedication, determination and discipline; all of which are attributes of the mind. This means that success comes as much from the mind as it does from the body. Despite this clear partnership between mind and body, many fail to invest time into training their mind and are therefore missing a main component in achieving success. Like any type of training, mind training must be both specific and focused. The practice of meditation is one of concentration, and the immediate benefit is obvious - an increase in concentration will enable you to keep your eye unwaveringly on the main game - succeeding in keeping your resolutions!

2) Be aware of emotions

Meditation can lead to a state of calm and tranquility, and in this state it is possible to become acutely aware of emotions as they arise. A heightened awareness of emotions is extremely important when trying to achieve a goal. Anxiety, fear, doubt - these are all natural emotions, and they will arise in everyone. They are natural, and as long as they are managed they are not a problem - but if they begin to consume you, they will interfere with achieving your goal and will become another barrier to overcome. This is where the meditation comes in - you can train your brain to recognise doubt as it arises. That little germ of doubt - you will see it, recognise it and, with your training, rather than allow it to grow, you will allow it to subside, never to become an issue.

3) Take time to relax!

When it comes to resolutions, especially those that involve ‘giving up’ certain things like chocolate, alcohol, coffee or smoking; it can be a huge challenge and can often result in heightened stress levels, and you becoming uptight or anxious. Relaxation is a vital element in achieving your goals and taking the time to relax and de-stress can often be the only way to keep yourself ‘sane’ at the end of the day. Most mediation exercises are just ten minutes long, meaning it’s just a short amount of time out of your busy day to relax and re-focus.

4) Distinguish the negative from the positive

Too often we dwell on negative thoughts which, in turn, stump our progress and result in us giving in too soon. However, the decision to focus on the positive and forget the negative is an ability controlled by the mind and is an active decision that we can all make. Meditation can help to facilitate this decision, enabling you to ditch the unhelpful thoughts, and stay focused on the positives!

5) Envisage the end goal

Often the only thing that can keep our eyes on the prize and keep us sticking to our New Year’s Resolutions is envisaging the end goal. Whether it’s that bikini body you’ve been dreaming of, the general need to feel happier and healthier, or simply the need to become more organised; meditation can help to quieten the mind. It is easy to become sidetracked when trying to focus on one goal, as our mind is constantly buzzing with different thoughts and one thought can easily lead on to the next, and before you know it you are you thinking about something completely unrelated to the topic you should be focused on. Meditating daily can cleanse the mind, and stop it from running away with itself without your permission.   

Further reading

6 beginner’s meditation tricks to get you started

Mindfulness makes for good health

Meditation might not banish your anxiety, but it can help

5 Tips to relax on perfectionism and raise self-esteem