The first few weeks of the New Year can feel a bit like a letdown, especially if you had high hopes for better habits and new beginnings.
It’s easy to fall back into familiar routines and schedules that speed up time and push life forward. All too soon new days look like old ones and your hopes for bigger and more exciting adventures are slowly fading. Maybe you went back on one or two of your good intentions and with a sigh of regret you surrender to your old ways.
That’s why a few years ago I decided to create a life that I love every day. Instead of placing all my hopes on the first of the year, I started to design a lifestyle that I like to wake up to every morning.
This is what I’ve learned:
Form Good Habits
… that support your happiness. To live a better life, it’s imperative to develop better habits – and they are not built exclusively between December 31st and January 1st.
Creating good daily practices takes time, discipline, and forgiveness. A few weeks ago, I decided to write morning notes. I wanted to get back into writing regularly and thought a morning routine would help me with my goal. All I can say is that it’s been hard. On some days I write and on others I don’t. What I’ve learned in the process, is to forgive myself when I fall short, to cheer myself up, and to keep going. Over time, I know, my stumbling will turn into a habit.
Kick New Year’s Resolutions to the Curb
… and set goals instead. New Year’s resolutions don’t work. They are drastic and hard to maintain. Setting goals to achieve the outcome you desire is a more positive – and obtainable – approach.
When setting goals, make sure they are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Instead of pledging to exercise more in 2016, be concrete: how often can you – and will you – work out? What type of exercise do you enjoy? Will you join a gym, a hiking group, or a yoga class? When will you start?
Unlike a resolution, a goal is an ongoing effort to obtain a result (that inspires you). When you stray from it one day, you can come back to it the next and pick up where you left off with new commitment and determination.
Set Goals that Light Your Fire
… and are fun to reach. I often see people cringe when they talk about goals. Most of us have never learned to aim for results that inspire and that can be reached in an effortless way. We set goals that are either too high, too low, or too conceptual; goals that we think we should attain rather than the ones we are thrilled to actualize.
When setting your goals, keep this in mind. Aim for outcomes that inspire you and make reaching them an exciting adventure. Forget about the should do’s and have to’s. If a goal isn’t lighting your fire, reaching it turns into hard work.
When creating a life that you love every day,
it’s important to be aware of a number of traps and distractions:
Hesitation is one of the more subtle forces that keeps you from reaching your goals. When hesitating, you linger between the world of action and the world of inaction. You haven’t said no, but you haven’t said yes, either. This state of ambivalence is stressful. It turns possibility into probability and stifles your aliveness. The best way to deal with hesitation is to adopt an attitude of yes. Instead of waiting, move. Instead of mistrusting, trust. And, instead of holding back, step into the unknown. You’ll discover that you are more powerful than you ever anticipated.
Every time you hesitate to follow your curiosity, you lose some of your inner spark and self-esteem. Waver long enough and you’ll start doubting yourself and your decisions. This creates a downward spiral that can only be remedied by taking action. The steps you take can be small (call a fitness studio and set up an appointment, go to meetup.com and look for hiking groups, check out yoga studios in your neighborhood, etc.), but you have to take them. Every time you do, your confidence increases.
Another common trap is being too busy. If you constantly put in long hours at your job or your business, you lose your sense of self and simply forget what’s important to you. Take time out. Schedule activities purely for your pleasure. It’s not a luxury, it’s necessary to stay in love with your life every day of the year.
Distractions are easier to give in to if you don’t have goals in place that keep you focused. If you don’t have something hot cooking in your creation kitchen, it’s easy to get pulled off track by social media, the news, and life’s daily responsibilities. Know what’s important to you and your happiness, and don’t let anything take away from that.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What two things make your days wonderful? Please share your insights in the comments below.
As always, thank you for reading.
To your beautiful year.