With the new year in full swing, many of us are thinking about how we can improve our lives. Whether you want to volunteer more, change your diet, or cut back on screen time, January provides fertile soil for forming new habits and ditching the old.
This year I have some exciting goals in store and am eager to see where they lead. These aren’t radical, life-changing, knock your socks off new directions. In fact, they’ve been brewing for some time, long before the clock struck midnight on January 1st.
These are my soul goals, new ways of living out my values day to day. They’re personally meaningful, achievable, fun, challenging, and intimately connected to the person I want and know myself to be.
Train for a marathon: We’ll start with one of the most basic wellness pillars: physical fitness. Taking care of our bodies through diet and exercise is critical to keeping our hearts pumping. This one doesn’t require any fancy gear or expensive gym memberships. Just a commitment to keep hitting the pavement. I’m hopeful that having a training plan will help me stay disciplined and motivated through any obstacles (rain, fatigue, the comfort of my bed) that may arise.
Get regular haircuts: This one might seem like a given, but I have to confess, haircuts are one of the first things to go when I become busy, overwhelmed, or short on funds. That’s why I made an appointment with my trusty stylist for the first week of the year and have a follow-up scheduled for 6 months from now. Tip: book your appointments in advance to ensure you keep them. Let me just say, a New Year’s trip to the salon might very well be a new tradition. Your locks deserve it!
Shop only the perimeter of the grocery store: I’m so jazzed about this one and already had a wildly successful first run! Health experts say to stick mainly to the perimeter of the store when you shop for groceries since this is primarily where the fresh, natural, unprocessed foods live. Well this year I decided to take it up a notch and shop only the perimeter. After my first go, it’s safe to say I’m going to love it. I was relieved by how much easier my trip was when I wasn’t weaving up and down every aisle, and pleasantly surprised that it didn’t break the bank. (I attribute this to buying only what I needed and really wanted.) Give it a try! It may sound limiting, but in reality, can expand your options by introducing you to new products.
Go green: A couple of years ago, I discovered EWG, or Environmental Working Group, your one-stop-shop for consumer guides to eco-friendly products and a host of resources dedicated to helping folks make conscious choices around how their purchases, habits, and households impact the environment and vice versa. Since then, I’ve committed to purchasing only products that get EWG’s stamp of approval. From shampoo to hand soap, detergent to dryer sheets, I’ve bought new or replaced old products to better protect my health and our planet’s. If this sounds like a significant undertaking, it is. But the good news is, once you find the right combination of eco-safe products that works for you, it’s easy to keep the momentum going. Start small and work your way up. Next time you run out of one of your go-to’s, double-check the database for an environmentally-friendly alternative before you rush out to replenish it.
If resolutions aren’t your style, consider these options instead:
Pick your word of the year: If you could assign one word to the year ahead, what would it be? Close your eyes for a moment and see what comes to mind. Perhaps your word is freedom, play, or abundance. Resist the urge to limit or censor yourself and lean into whatever arises. If more than one word resonates, think about how your words complement each other and how you see them manifesting over the next year. Think about your various life’s domains and spend some time reflecting on how your word can shape your goals, intentions, and relationships, including your relationship with yourself.
Set monthly or quarterly goals: The first of the year can feel daunting as we gear up to refocus our attention on lofty ambitions that have fallen by the wayside. Instead of setting annual goals for yourself, consider breaking up your aspirations into monthly- or quarterly-sized chunks. If you want to develop healthier eating habits, identify the steps you’ll take to get there. Maybe you want to cut back on sugar for a month or eliminate red meat. Get out your calendar and get crackin’! It’s much easier to wrap your head around doing something temporarily than it is to imagine adding or subtracting something for the foreseeable future.
Tune into what’s working: We’re often eager to shake things up without taking inventory of all the marvelous things that we’ve got going for us! Sometimes resolutions can serve to distract us from other areas that deserve our attention. Before you decide to quit your full-time job, live off the land, meditate every morning at sunrise, write a bestseller, and cure world hunger, count your present blessings. Consider your meaningful relationships, the space or spaces you call home, and the hobbies that are always at your disposal. If you want to start meditating, start with 5 minutes a day before you embark on a 30-day silent retreat. Examine what’s working well in your world — a short commute, walks with your dog, family game night, a monthly date with your best friend, a warm bed — and let that be enough.
The year is young, its potential at its peak. As you set off in new directions, return to yourself every now and then, and take comfort in your steady presence.