In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, the echo of promises to hit the gym, lose weight, or adopt a healthier diet reverberates annually. While physical health garners its rightful attention, the spotlight often shifts away from the equally significant opportunity for “mental fitness”.
Welcome to 2024 — a year poised not only for the possibility of finding a fitness routine for physical transformation, but also a desperate call to action to enable a profound shift forward to a fitness routine for our mind, the resident personal trainer of our inner narratives and outer responses. This is where we get to hold in our hands the key to unlocking our empowered success as we define it.
Given the ever changing world around us, if we choose to open the window of possibilities and take the road less traveled to the mental fitness gym, we will discover this profound understanding that inward is the only way out.
This coming year calls upon us to build on our “personal responsibility”, to create a space that becomes our “gym in which we process our pain and disappointment about this lack of conformity to our ideals and where we build our capacity to stay present with people and a world that refuses to bend itself to our will.” (Thanks Elise Loehnen)
This is a different kind of list of resolutions and not for the faint of heart. Undoubtedly, there is work to be done and YOU are the one who must do the work! These aren't fleeting promises to tread the treadmill or bid adieu to carbs. Instead, these are resolutions that help you to carve pathways in your brain, shaping it into an arsenal of resilience, innovation, positive and emotional intelligence. These resolutions will help to equip us to change our inner narratives to ones of resilience, creativity, and growth—a journey inward into the realms of cognitive prowess and emotional dexterity. If we choose to go beyond the traditional gym as we know it, into the vast arena of our foundations as humans at a root level, our mental resilience and cognitive fortitude, we can achieve the lasting change and success we deeply yearn for, curated by us and for us.
The year 2024 calls us forward to personal action, not as another checkbox on a to-do list but as a way forward, starting with going inward to a place where mental fitness isn't just a resolution - it's your personal revolution.
1. Embrace Cognitive Flexibility: (Be open for change!)
Resolution: Commit to enhancing cognitive flexibility by embracing diverse perspectives and exploring new ideas regularly. For instance, actively engaging in discussions with individuals that have different educational, experiential or cultural backgrounds can significantly broaden perspectives and enhance cognitive flexibility. Studies in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement suggest that cognitive flexibility positively correlates with problem-solving abilities and adaptability in various situations.
2. Foster Positive Intelligence: (Actually “Shooting in the Gym”!)
Resolution: Incorporate Positive Intelligence practices such as daily mental fitness exercises aimed at strengthening self-awareness and managing negative thoughts based on extensive research done by Shirzad Chamine. "Positive Intelligence", is defined as the percentage of time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you. Research from Chamine indicates that by increasing your positive intelligence, you can improve mental fitness, resilience, and overall well-being. He concluded that individuals with high Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ) tend to navigate stress more efficiently and foster better relationships, well-being and performance in their careers.
3. Enhance Resilience Through Adversity: (Use the Power of Perspective!)
Resolution: Practice living in your power by learning how to shift your perspective using the lens of choice that moves you forward. View adversity through the lens of personal leadership, as an opportunity for growth rather than a setback. Commit to building resilience by learning from challenges. For instance, when faced with a setback at work or in personal endeavors, instead of staying in feelings of being discouraged for days or weeks, allow yourself to feel the emotion and move towards identifying lessons learned and strategies for improvement. Embracing the setback as a chance to reassess and grow, such as seeking feedback and adjusting strategies, can foster resilience. Additionally, sharing these experiences with others to inspire and support their journey through adversity can further reinforce personal resilience and contribute to a supportive community. Studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology highlight that resilience leads to increased mental toughness and adaptability.
4. Practice Active Stress Reduction Techniques: (Get the Tools…Do the Work!)
Resolution: Dedicate time each day to actively engage in stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, yoga or other strategies that are available. For example, incorporate mindfulness meditation sessions into your daily routine. Consider learning about using methodologies like Positive Intelligence. In addition or incorporating structured physical activity and relaxation techniques into your routine. Consistency in practicing these techniques can gradually reduce stress levels and promote a sense of overall well-being.
Scientific reports from the American Psychological Association affirm that consistent stress reduction practices significantly improve mental health.
5. Cultivate Meaningful Self-Reflection: (The Best Beauty Filter Ever!)
Resolution: Allocate regular time for self-reflection to understand personal values, and goals, assessing any emotional patterns or triggers. For instance, set aside time at the end of each day for introspection. Reflect on the events of the day, considering how they align with your values, goals and how you want to show up everyday for yourself, others and the ever changing circumstances you face. Journaling can also be a powerful tool for self-reflection — write down thoughts, feelings, and insights gained throughout the day. This consistent practice of self-reflection can help cultivate self-awareness and pave the way for more intentional, conscious and fulfilling actions. Research in Psychological Science indicates that self-reflection promotes better decision-making and emotional regulation.
6. Develop Effective Problem-Solving Strategies: (Habitual Reaction vs. Conscious Response)
Resolution: Focus on enhancing problem-solving skills by breaking down complex problems into manageable parts and implementing structured problem-solving methods. For example, when faced with a challenging issue at work or in personal projects, break down the problem into smaller, more manageable components. Notice the outcomes of your responses - the patterns in behaviors and how they show up in what you think, say and do versus what you really deeply want to achieve. Seek input from across your relationships, for example, in your personal life and with colleagues, mentors, or experts to gather diverse perspectives and insights.
This structured problem-solving approach not only addresses the issue more effectively but also enhances critical thinking skills and fosters a proactive growth mindset. Studies in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making underline the importance of strategic problem-solving in reducing stress and enhancing mental agility.
As we enter into this New Year there is a call to action for a personal revolution, an inward journey to rewire inner narratives and build a robust mental gym for enduring success and well-being. The call beckons to us to resist the temptation to hop onto that treadmill of toxic societal expectations and to consider a radical departure from the conventional resolutions. It urges individuals to embark on a profound inner journey toward mental fitness, resilience and success.
This year invites us to challenge ourselves in unprecedented ways, pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional goals into the vast landscape of cognitive strength. Embracing cognitive flexibility, nurturing positive intelligence, fostering resilience, actively managing stress, cultivating self-reflection, and honing problem-solving skills form the cornerstone of this personal revolution.
Each resolution offers a distinct pathway to fortify the mind, sculpting it into an arsenal of resilience, and growth. Backed by research and psychological insights, these resolutions promises personal transformation with a caveat - YOU must do the work! It paves the way for a deeper understanding of oneself and the world.
In 2024, ensure that mental fitness isn't just a checkbox on your to-do list. It’s truly a call to action to embrace personal responsibility, to courageously step inward and craft a narrative where mental fitness is not just a resolution but a way of life — a path forward toward YOUR empowered success and a fulfilling existence.