Goal achievement and the secret ingredient: Yoga

We all do the same thing. It is a brand New Year and with that notion comes the feeling of wanting to make changes, to start afresh and to achieve all of our greatest goals that we have decided to set for the year. But how many of us actually see them through until the end? Why do we stumble and what stops us? This feeling of failure generally tends to leave us feeling worse than when we started so what can we do to help us stay on track?

This year, how about trying something different? How about trying out a thousand year old secret that can help you achieve any goal related to work, self-development, relationships, self-image and anything else that your goals may be related to. This thousand year old secret being the practice of yoga and meditation. It is no surprise that yoga and meditation are commonly practised daily amongst the world’s top billion and millionaires as well as top athletes. Those who set themselves really big goals. And complete them successfully. So how can yoga help you achieve your goals for this year?

Yoga teaches us how to be mindful

We have a tendency to live our lives in ‘default’ mode where habits drive our daily behaviour and we consistently react to things or make decisions whilst we’re in ‘autopilot’ mode. Yoga teaches us how to be mindful of the present, our bodies and our minds in each and every moment. This transcends outside of the studio and into daily life as decisions and thoughts become clearer with increased awareness.

We generally tend to set goals because we want something in our lives to change for the better or because we want to achieve something that is currently outside of the ‘norm’ of our current lives. If we have been acting and thinking on ‘autopilot’ or behaved or reacted habitually in a certain way for years, months or even decades it’s probably going to be very tricky to achieve a new goal with no other strategy than to just have ‘will power’.

So how can yoga help? Within an asana class (the physical, class part of yoga) we are constantly aware of our physical bodies and our breath which in turn brings a new sense of value and respect towards the physical self. Within meditation, we become mindfully aware of our thoughts and become able to see our thought patterns almost as an outside observer. We begin to learn that surprisingly we might be our own biggest obstacle (not anything or anyone else) and that we are getting in our own way, simply because we aren’t in tune with our own thought patterns.

The practice of being mindfully aware can be taken from the studio and applied to every moment of every day. For example we may start to make more mindful decisions whilst at the supermarket instead of habitually picking the same things we always do and thus make better food choices, or it may be that we become more mindful in how we react to a certain problem such as mindfully remaining calm, positive and solution-based as opposed to habitually becoming angry or feeling hopeless when problems arise. Decisions made mindfully lead to better choices and better choices push you towards what it is you are striving for.

Yoga encourages learning about the self

Yoga is a very introspective and self-reflective practice requiring us to look completely inwardly and within ourselves rather than to the external world. Even the simplest practice of focusing on the breath can bring an awareness to the self we may have never had before. The more we practice yoga and meditation the clearer our minds become regarding who we are and the more aware we become of our core values, what we actually want and who we really are.

The more we are able to fully understand ourselves the more we are able to understand the intentions we have behind our goals. Making the distinction between an intention and a goal is crucial in the attainment of that goal. An intention is an internal construct and is usually the ‘why’ behind a goal. A goal is an external construct which lies in the future. Without fully understanding our intentions or our reasoning behind why we want to achieve something we are less likely to achieve it.

Likewise if our ‘why’ has no strength or isn’t actually in line with what our core values really are, the attainment of a certain goal will feel ten times harder because the reality is that the goal isn’t really that important to us. Yoga teaches us to learn about ourselves through introspection and accept our behaviours.

Yoga teaches us self-acceptance

Yoga teaches us how to overcome hindering ideas of the self. Yoga is about being accepting and loving towards ourselves (as well as others of course). Something in the western world we find particularly difficult to do. Yoga teaches us to be more welcoming of our own emotions and acknowledge them as they occur as well as being more appreciative towards our physical bodies from a health point of view over an aesthetic point of view. Being more accepting of the self is much more helpful in the attainment of goals. Goals set from love towards the self are much more likely to be attained than those which come from dislike or hate.

Yoga encourages a positive mind set

A positive mind set in goal setting and goal striving is absolutely vital in the successful achievement of our wishes. A negative mind-set is a sure fire way to make goal achievement a duly hard task. How can you expect to achieve a goal if your mind is telling you ‘you can’t do it’ or ‘it’s too difficult’ or that ‘it’s just easier to give up’? Motivation, determination and consistently feeling inspired all require positivity to be maintained.

The yogic way of life teaches us how to nurture a positive mind set and how to be consistently within this frame of mind. Being open minded and content with life and what you have, being grateful for what life offers you as well as being compassionate towards yourself and others without striving for unrealistic perfection all promote a happy, positive mind set. This kind of mental attitude is much more likely to keep you on the right path towards achievement as you’ll wake up every day feeling motivated to go after what you’ve aimed to achieve.

If you’ve given yourself some great goals to aim for this year, give yourself the best possible opportunity to achieve them and attend a weekly yoga or meditation class to reap the benefits in pushing you towards what you’d like to get out of life. Becoming more mindful and increasing your awareness as well as learning about and accepting the self all whilst maintaining a positive mind set via a practice which is thousands of years old may just be the secret to your success in 2019. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it, just make sure you fully know your own mind first.