Are you one of the millions of people who’s starting off the year with a list of resolutions? Everyone loves a fresh start and January is the perfect opportunity for new beginnings. The idea of making New Year’s resolutions, goals and intentions has been a thing for, like, ever, but “sticking” to those resolutions is a whole other conversation. Statistics say that a huge majority of New Year’s resolutions end up in the trash bin after only a few weeks. Part of the problem with these resolutions is that they can be too broad. Headlines scream things like “New Year! New You!” but that can feel like a pretty tall order. In this context the word “resolution” is a stand in for resolve which somehow implies will power or self control. When we don’t keep our resolutions it can leave us open to shame, guilt and negative self talk and that is a losing trifecta.
A solution? Reframe the idea of making resolutions to create new habits. And simplify it even more by implementing one habit per month for a year and to see what sticks. I’m talking about setting one, singular goal, or intention, per month and following through for 30 (or 31) full days straight. Research says it can take anywhere from 21 to 66 days to create a new habit that will stick. (That’s why programs like the Whole30 are so successful.) Think of the defined time frame as an opportunity to “rewire” your brain and create a new neural pathway - kind of like forging a new path through the woods instead of taking one that’s visible and well-traveled. It may be difficult or less instinctive at first, but the more you travel the new path the more defined and accessible it becomes.
I did this last year and it was a great experiment. Some of things I tried included drinking 20 oz of water upon waking up and starting a yoga practice (keepers), daily pushups (not so much), and meditation and journaling (starts and stops).
Some people respond better to calling it a 30-day challenge instead of a goal or intention, but however you decide to frame it, I recommend starting by asking yourself a few questions.
What do you want more of? What do you want less of? How do you want to feel? What excites you? What do you want to try?
Once you have some answers to these equations it’s time to think of how you can support those desires and decide which habits you want to add. Things like “I want eat better” or “I want to get healthy” don’t work because they are too broad. Getting more specific with “I will do some form of yoga every day for 30 days because I want to feel stronger and more mindful” is more impactful than simply saying “I will go to yoga more often.”
Here are some suggestions:
Add in more greens. By adding leafy greens into at least one meal per day you will be amping ups your overall vegetable intake and doing yourself a solid in the health department.
Start your day with 5 minutes of meditation. I’ve heard this referred to as RPM or Rise, Pee, Meditate. Meditation is the perfect counterbalance to our overloaded systems and even a few minutes can make a difference.
Add in yoga. Hands down the best thing I did for myself in 2018. I practice at Bala Yoga and they have an intro deal of 30 days for $40, but many studios have special deals for the first month. They also do 30-day challenges in February and October with prizes and everything!
Drink 16-20 oz of water upon waking. You know how important it is to stay hydrated - especially as we age! Experts typically recommend at least 60 ounces a day so here is a way to get a head start. I started this one last January and have followed through pretty much every day last year.
Digital detoxes. Commit to powering down at least one hour before bed every night and/or staying off for an hour upon waking. You can also think about taking one fun weekend day for a digital breather as well.
Make your lunch every day (and bank the money you’d spend eating out). You’ll be healthier and richer at the end of 30 days.
Add in some push-ups before you get dressed. I have a friend who did this in 2019. When she started she could do exactly 3 push-ups. Now she’s up to 30 (and she’s stronger and fitter to boot).
Morning Pages. One of my faves! This involves journaling 3 pages first thing in the morning. It’s actually a 12-week program that was started by a woman named Julia Cameron and it’s wonderful. You can learn more about it here.
Declutter. Create space and new energy in your home by removing one bag of stuff from your house every day for a month.
A month of handwritten notes. In these days of email and texts, the art of letter writing has fallen by the wayside. Try sending a card or letter every day, even if it’s just a few lines on a postcard telling your grandma or an old friend that you love them and are thinking of them.
Read an actual book. (this one combines well with digital detoxing!).
Wake up one hour earlier. If you are one of the many women I know who hits the snooze button in the AM and then complains later that they have not time to exercise, make a healthy breakfast, read a book, etc… then this one is for you.
Other ideas include a month of things like only shopping locally, starting a gratitude practice, learning a language or an instrument, saying “yes” to everything that scares you (just like Shonda Rimes), walk 3 miles a day, etc… The possibilities are endless!
By the end of the year you will be able to look back and see what you’ve tried, what you’d maybe like to try again and most importantly, what you may have added in that has become a new and healthy habit.