A new year (or even better, new decade) promises a fresh start, a blank page, and a chance to do things better this time around the sun. From a mindfulness perspective. January 1st could be considered just another day. While I can get on board with that idea in some aspects, I personally am gung-ho about joining in on the collective goal-setting energy that exists this time of year. I love the idea that other people are sitting home with their journal right now and sipping their coffee while they, too, reflect on their hopes for the coming year.
It can be both exciting and overwhelming when you sit down to set your intentions for the new year.
As you scroll through Pinterest and self-help blogs, you might end up feeling like you have to overhaul your entire life. What started out as hopeful intention-setting can quickly deflate into self-doubt, comparison, and maybe even “why bother.”
You know you have a desire to do things differently this year. Maybe you want to be healthier, or kinder, or find a job that makes you happier. You have an idea about the direction you want to go, but how to take the first step to get there feels really daunting.
“Do I have to start over completely? Do I have to change who I am to get the things I want this year? What if I’m doing it all wrong?”
It’s a tall order to examine every aspect of your life and make long-term goals. When we make lofty goals, like “get healthy” or “get the dream job,” we can start to trend toward “all or nothing” or “black and white” thinking, which generally isn’t very helpful. It sets us up to feel like we have failed when we don’t achieve what we set out to do. More often than not, we really haven’t failed; we just need to take a step back and start with simple steps first.
The solution to these problems can be summed up in a few simple words: New Year, Same You, Better Habits.
YOU have gotten yourself through 100% of your bad days up until this point. You have learned from experience and heartbreak. You have cried (hard), and also probably laughed a lot. You’ve celebrated amazing victories and grieved losses. You’ve made mistakes but have also learned immensely from those mistakes. You’ve taken risks and given life your all. You’ve done your best with what you have in every moment.
You need the “same you” to continue to be the backbone of the hard work you are doing to grow and evolve, day after day, year after year.
So now that we are clear on the fact that you don’t need to be an entirely “new you” this year, you might be thinking, “okay, but if I’m the ‘same me,’ how will I do things differently this year? How will I progress?”
Fair question, and it’s a simple answer. It starts with your daily habits.
Writer Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Whoa. How true is that though?! It’s not about the workout you’ll do tomorrow, or the book you’ll read next month, or the phone call you’ll make to someone you love when there’s “enough time.” It’s about what you’re doing now- like, right this moment.
Look around you- what’s in your environment? Are the things and people around you supporting the life you want to live? What’s your plan for tonight? Is it to do something that nourishes you, relaxes you and makes you feel connected and alive?
Again: How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
If your goal this year is to “be healthier,” think about how you can take small steps every single hour of the day to be healthier. A bit more water to drink, a piece of fruit in between meetings, stretching after getting out of the car at the end of the day, a larger portion of veggies at dinner, or going to bed 15 minutes earlier.
If your goal is to “be kinder,” think about how many opportunities you have to be kind during the day: smiling and chatting with the barista at your coffee spot instead of scrolling through your phone and ignoring them, giving your coworker a compliment, writing thank you cards, or taking out the garbage when you get home to help lighten your significant other’s load (even though you really just want to lay down).
Start small- AND continue with small.
Small steps end up achieving big goals.
Allow small steps in the right direction, to be the direction.
I’ve spent a lot of 2019 doing research on how to develop (and stick to) good habits that support the lives we desire- and I can’t wait to share it with you! Stay tuned for another post coming soon with some great resources to build better habits, which include books, apps, and tips about your morning routine.
Happy New Year!