With 2017 looming, I started to think about the new year, and what I can do to make my life a little bit easier. No, this isn’t going to be a post about making and sticking to new year’s resolutions, because I don’t believe in them. I do, however, think that the new year is a good time to assess your habits and lifestyle and determine what changes could be made. For the most part, I think it’s difficult for people to set an arbitrary (and dare I say it, in most cases, lofty) goal and be able to achieve it. What I think people should do, and what will be my goal for 2017 is to make small, incremental changes. If you’re like me and can get easily overwhelmed, try to focus on one or maybe two things you want to change in the new year. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The goal is to start small – even if that list of “changes” ends up being 3 pages long. Then pick one or two realistic changes. Once you have an idea of what changes you want to make put the list away. Hide it. Bury it in the bottom of your closet or on your bookshelf. Save it on your laptop under an obscure file name. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s not staring you in the face on a daily basis. Why, you ask? I suffer from “overwhelmitis”, and if I have to think in too broad of terms right now, my end game gets derailed. That is not to say that we shouldn’t set long-term goals, but I know that I’m more successful when I can make immediate changes.
The first step in making the changes in your life is to think about your mindset.
This meant that I had to stop thinking in such negative terms, and start thinking about life in a more positive way. This one probably took me the longest, and it is still a work in progress. Don’t pick a goal that focuses on the negative, try to stay positive. For example, your goal should not be “to lose weight”, but rather “to be healthy/healthier”. Losing weight may be something that you need and want to do, but it focuses on the negative and can be extremely overwhelming. Being healthier may mean that you are going to start taking a multivitamin every day. It might mean that you try a spin class once a week. The end result may be that you lose weight, but you may be setting yourself up for failure if you look at it that way.
Next, you need to be accountable.
In addition to suffering from “overwhelmitis”, I also have a hard time making myself do something. I need a push. I need someone or something to hold me accountable. If you can find someone, having an accountability partner might make achieving your goals easier. If fitness is one of your goals, you might want to try one of the many wearables to help keep you on track. Whatever your goal, some kind of accountability tracker exists. Or enlist a friend. Giving yourself a reward might also help. If you don’t meet your goal this week, you don’t get your reward. Because I can get easily distracted when writing, I find it helpful to be in a quiet space. This means no TV. My reward for writing, however, is that I am allowed to watch one episode after finishing an article. I use this for other tasks as well, and as a result I’m more productive. (Note: I probably still watch the same amount of TV)
Finally, be mindful of your goal. No, this doesn’t mean meditating on a daily basis, however, I do think that would help everyone. Being mindful in this case means that you need to understand what your goal is. If we use the previous example of being healthier, you want to keep that in mind throughout your day. Think about the choices you are making. Did you decide to have salad with lunch, or french fries? This is a small change that can go a long way to becoming a healthier person. Don’t get me wrong, french fries are practically my kryptonite, and it takes a lot of willpower and accountability to get me to choose the salad when all I want is that deep fried potato goodness, but I make the choice because I am mindful of the health advantages of choosing the salad. Everyone is going to have different goals. Mine are mostly health and wellness related at the moment, and I wanted to share them to help motivate you.
- Take time out. My brain is always working, for better or for worse. I need to let my brain be “offline” more often than it is. I’m not sure what this will look like yet, but I intend on making it a priority for 2017.
- Get healthy. This includes both physical exercise and nutrition. I started down this path in 2016 and am already seeing some major changes. I stopped drinking pop completely about a month ago. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I feel so much better for it.
- Focus on the positive and not the negative. This is an ongoing battle for me, but I no longer see the glass as half empty.
- Watch less TV, and read more. 2017 will be the year for me to stop watching so much TV, and focus more on reading. Audiobooks are a great way to make reading more of a priority.
- Drink more tea and less coffee. (Of the green and herbal variety)
- Be more organized. I don’t really know what this means for me specifically. It might be my physical space, but it also might be organizing my time in a more productive way. Stay tuned!
While it may look like my goals for 2017 are a bit lofty, it should be noted that I have already started on some of these. Being healthier is something that will likely be on my goal list for a while, and I think that’s ok. Every day, we make choices and those choices, even if they are small, will add up to big rewards down the road. It’s time to put 2016 to bed, along with the idea of a new year’s resolution. Decide that you are going to be healthier. Decide that you are going to be a better person, but don’t just do this on January 1 of each year. Make it a lifestyle and not just a resolution.