I was thinking about the new year and recall recently hearing someone say, instead of resolutions that we often set ourselves up to break, think of the beginning of the year as a time to set one goal. And, while it feels like a blank slate and a good time to start something, I also wondered if we take a moment to pause and renew, would we all be more likely to hold to the new goals we’re trying to form? We go through the holiday season and it’s a blur. How often do we look back and wonder where 30, 60, 90 days or more have gone? We are so busy with the hustle of preparing that starts in October, maybe earlier, that when the new year comes it’s no surprise we’re all feeling ready for a new leaf. But is there room to be more mindful about how we go about all of these new practices? Instead of starting January at the gym doing more than our bodies have in weeks/months/years and going home sore, energy depleted, and looking into a refrigerator stocked in an optimistic moment with all the foods we “should” be eating is it any wonder that by the end of that week or the end of January we already feel we’re failing at what we set out to do? Here’s an idea it’s not too late to start on, the timetable is your own. Let’s bring in this new year with intention and balance.
Happy January, welcome new year, new decade! I’m going to choose my activities and set goals that are achievable, because I don’t need guilt over self-imposed ideas that make me feel a failure. And I’m going to learn to play, alone, with friends, and with my family. Join me? Here are a few things to get you started but remember this is not an inclusive list, just inspiration:
- Meal plan and prep on weekends. It sounds simplistic and it is, but this is the way to get the foods I want in the house. This is not the start of a strict diet; this is making healthier choices than I made during the holiday rush.
- Create set work hours. It’s easy to allow myself to let my work spill into my evenings during times I don’t have plans or distraction, but everyone needs down time to recharge each day. It’s not a luxury, it’s what enhances productivity during the day and if I don’t consciously make this choice, I will let myself stay at my computer longer than I should.
- Read, listen to audiobooks, listen to podcasts, or watch TV. Getting myself enmeshed in a good book is an escape nearly like a vacation. And for all the bad TV out there, there’s plenty of good to watch as well.
- Pray or meditate. Quiet time for consideration and reflection is soul enriching and an amazing stress reducer that has been shown many times over to reduce blood pressure and improve brain health.
- Move my body. This doesn’t mean I have to join a spin class or train for a marathon (though if those things lift you up, wonderful!) this just means a walk with my dog, or yoga at home or in a studio, a bike ride on the greenway. Again, stress reducing, heart and brain healthy, blood pressure reducing, and an aid in depression and anxiety management.
- Schedule physicals or check-ups. Annual exams are important to be sure any changes in blood work, blood pressure, vision, mammograms or PSA checks, etc. can be addressed before a possible issue becomes advanced.
- Call and schedule time for coffee with a friend. Often, we do not give our friendships the time they need, and we don’t benefit from the recharge that time will give us. (And moms – I just read today that in order to be the healthiest mom possible you need two girlfriend outings a week. Two! So perhaps start with one and work it slowly up to two.)
- Make an activity list with your family. Have everyone list what is fun for them. And then use this to plan your vacations, time together, and year.
Remember, not every minute of the day is meant to be about productivity. It’s also meant to include time for relationships, recharging our batteries, learning, and balancing our lives. So, this year, rather than adding a list of 5 must-do’s to your daily schedule, how about taking care of you – in any of the above ways or another way you might want to embrace and enjoy. Brene Brown reminds us that “adults goof off”, they play, and defined this as spending time doing things that are not productive but are fun. Several of the ideas above are not “productive”, but they may be fun for you. So, my challenge is – go have some fun this year. Play. Meditate. Spend time with friends. Read a novel that pulls you in. After that – perhaps get back to the one or two goals for your year. But don’t take the “fun” time off your calendar to get the goal met. Instead, balance both in your time. And have a great 2020!