We need to ask ourselves, truly, how significant is the 1st of January? Do you usually use this arbitrary date that ushers in a new calendar date as an excuse throughout the year to continue procrastinating on making improvements in your life?
We often make New Year’s resolutions and fail in successfully executing multiple daunting changes all at once, and we brush it off saying we’ll try again next year. The phrase “new year, new me” floats around our social feeds, and when we don’t dramatically leap into the new year completely rid of old habits or with shiny new ones, we end up even further buried in shame and regret.
There IS another way.
Start today. On whatever day you happen to be reading this article.
It’s difficult to make any sort of life plans right now as we’ve seen the world change before our eyes over and over… and over again. Sometimes you feel like you need to be in control of something, and you can. It starts with you.
We’re talking small wins, babe.
Whatever habits you’re trying to make part of your daily routine, whether it’s physical fitness, mental wellness, or just setting aside an extra 20 minutes for your favourite hobby, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re doing these things.
Take some time to write down a few actions you want to implement into your life and what specific impact they’ll have on your well-being and future. When you have an important purpose, and when you take the time to remind yourself of that purpose, you’ll find time to do whatever it is you need to do.
I love making lists, and especially the satisfaction of tangibly checking something off of a list. It’s been proven that even in small successes like this, your brain releases dopamine signals that are the good kind of addictive. When we get a dopamine hit, we want more. We’re that much more motivated to check off the next thing and keep going, and seeing yourself make progress in something that matters to you inspires you to do it more often. (If you’ve ever written something on the end of your to-do list that you’ve already completed just so you could cross it off, you know what I mean.)
So here’s what you do: make yourself a spreadsheet. The first column is for writing down the habits, and it contains however many rows you see fit. The following columns are for the upcoming month’s days, numbered at the top in the first column. It’s that simple. Make it however fancy - or not - you wish, then print. (Or get creative with it and make it by hand.) Keep it on your desk, hang it up in your room, wherever you’re going to see it and have that physical reminder of the positive changes you’re making for yourself.
Personally, I like to put even the most trivial habits on my list so I can have one more thing I can feel more accomplished about every day. E.g., drinking enough water and eating fruit - like I said, they don’t have to be huge changes to make an impact.
At the end of the month, I reflect and journal about where I’ve seen progress and where I could use some refinement. Of course, if you only have a few checkmarks in one category each month, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re trying, and you’ll get there.
Making improvements in our lives is difficult. Change is uncomfortable. But the little things we do each and every day help shape the kind of life we want to live, and are extremely telling of what it will look like a year (or five) from now.