Have you been bombarded with emails and social media messages about how to start off your year ‘right’? Everyone is pushing you to buy their new planner or goal setter. Everyone wants you to read their book on habits and growth. In the personal development world, a new year can quickly become the most annoying time, making you feel like you’re not doing enough or aiming for the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love goal setting and have been working through my fresh goal book for over a month, but I know it’s not for everyone. I try not to be a goal pusher and I try to simplify the process for people who might be a little interested, but not ready to jump in headfirst. Maybe it’s because of the 2020/21 we just survived, but this year feels more amped up than ever to ‘reach for more’ and have your ‘best year yet’. It’s exhausting.
I don’t want to add to the list of people telling you what I think you should be doing. So I won’t. But I do get a lot of questions about what I like to do to start off my year. Over time, I have sifted through all of these same messages that are thrown in my inbox, and I’ve stuck with the ones that work for me. For the purpose of this post, I picked 3 simple things that I am doing this year. They are not big. They are not overwhelming. They take very little time. They cost zero dollars. And just because I do them, certainly doesn’t mean that you need to. But maybe one of them will sound interesting and you can give it a shot. Or not. This is your year, and you can change or not change anything you want to.
Pick a theme
A lot of people like to choose a word for the year. Instead, I like to think of it as a theme. A theme sets the tone for your year. It is a reminder that everything you do this year can come back to this single thing. I try not to overthink it or put too much pressure on choosing the perfect word. It’s not set in stone and it may change throughout the year, but I find a word that I connect with. In past years, mine have been BELIEVE, GRATITUDE, INTENTION. For this year, my theme is LISTEN. This might seem obvious coming from a coach. Listening in 2022 means I want to listen to my gut, and to signs around me, and to other people’s perspectives. I want to listen to my body for what it needs when it comes to health. I want to listen to new sounds of music, and be present when I’m with my husband and kids with no distractions around me. I want to listen to new messages and ideas and I want to keep improving my listening skills for my clients.
Once I have chosen my theme, I post it in a few places. My computer screen, bathroom mirror, in my car. It reminds me what my theme is, because, just like goals and resolutions, themes can quickly be forgotten. This theme will become my beacon for decision making, how I spend my time, who I surround myself with, and the things I prioritize.
It’s that simple. I pick one word. Done.
This is a concept that I was introduced to by Jesse Itzler. We all know we should take vitamins each day to keep us healthy. The type of vitamins are different for everyone depending on our individual needs. Here though, I’m talking about the daily things I need to do for myself in order to keep me healthy in mind and spirit. They are the things I love to do that put me first. I simply make a list of my Daily Vitamins and then try each day to do at least one of them. Some daily vitamins for me are: taking a bath, going for a walk while listening to a book, writing in my gratitude journal, doing a face mask, driving alone and listening to music, taking a pilates class, checking in on a friend, making my favourite smoothie. These are the things that fill me up so that I have the energy and mindset to be the best wife, mom, coach, and friend I can be.
Again, simple. I just write down the list and then try to fit at least one in a day. Some days I fit in none, and some days I fit in 2 or 3. There is no pressure.
One new habit
Goal setting and dream catching come down to daily habits. Consistent habits, done over time, add up to big results. The problem with a new year is that people try to break all of their bad habits and add in good habits all at once. ‘I’m going to eat well, and go to bed early, and workout every day, and drink less, and read every day, and not look at my phone’. I’m guilty of this too and have found it to be completely unsustainable and I always end up feeling like a failure and falling back into the same patterns. My new approach is to implement just ONE new habit and try to be consistent with it every day. I am not even close to perfect, but I do notice progress over time. Examples for me have been: drinking water, going for a walk or cutting out late-night snacking. I like to start with adding in a new habit, instead of one I want to take away or break. It is a simpler place for me to start. For this month, my new habit is to meditate. I’ve never been good at meditation or stuck with it long enough to reap the benefits I know it can provide. But I am committed to adding it to my morning routine. I will practice this one for as long as it takes to feel like it’s part of my daily life, and then I might move onto something else.
This is not overwhelming. It’s just one thing – not ALL the things at once.
So those are 3 of the things I am doing to start off this year. You can take it or leave it. What I hope you can take away, is that you don’t NEED to do anything different in 2022. You don’t need a goal or a word or a habit. You get to decide. And if you’re honest with yourself, you will know if there is something broken you need to fix. You will know if you’ve been coasting or putting things off. A new year can come with a lot of pressure to get it ‘right’ and there are countless ‘tricks and tips’ out there. Find the things that speak to you that you know work with your lifestyle. Or, you can change nothing at all. It really is just another day and another year on another calendar. 2022 will go by quickly, and it’s up to you how you want to distinguish and design it. Keep it simple.