My favorite holiday is not Thanksgiving or Christmas or anything in between. I always enjoy them and look forward to them for the fun and family time they bring along. But my favorite holiday is the week in between Christmas and New Year. The busy season winding down, people are returning home from vacation or going back to work and things seem to move a bit slower. This mellow mood invites time for reflection, time to think about where we were, whats coming and what we want to do with this whole, new, sparkling and pristine year that is just a few days away. People all over the world are preparing for the new year, seeing it as a perfect blank canvas. The energy behind the New Year is big and pulsates with people’s hopes for who they see themselves being and evolving into. I believe in change except when I hate it. I’m probably not alone in my slight disdain for the C-word but it is this inevitable turning of the calendar that makes the New Year so ripe with possibilities. Even those of us who hate to see things change will consider the idea that change is constant and that in order to grow as people, our lives will eventually have to evolve, usually with some effort on our part. New month! New Year! Clean slate as of January 1st! What do you want to change this year and how do you want to begin seeing yourself? How do you want to use this clean slate to evolve into a person you love even more?
As the (city, county and possibly the state’s) biggest lover of New Year resolutions, I have thought long and hard about the best ways to help people usher in the changes they want to see in their lives. I found 4 ways that I believe are best for a variety of people. The person who’s resolution seems to confining, anyone who feels daunted by the many months of the year and need a concentrated time to focus, those who might need to lighten up their way of seeing things and those who know that they tend to blow off their commitments to themselves (ahem). You can use these all together or pick 1 or 2 methods to use. The idea is to make you feel as though you are using what will fit best for your life and your personality, ensuring that you can easily embrace resolutions that you make for yourself. Excited yet? Good! Here they are:
1 – Decide how do you want to feel.
I was turned onto this idea by the wonderful Danielle LaPorte. In the promos for her book Desire Map she states that we are not chasing a goal or an end result, we are chasing a feeling. You say you want to lose 10 pounds? Why? How do you think it will make you feel? Happy, Healthy, strong, active, empowered? You want to start taking guitar lessons. Why? How do you think it will make you feel? Creative, talented, confident? You want to pay off your credit cards this year? Why? Do you think it will make you feel abundant, in flow with your finances, in control of your financial future? What feelings are you looking to bring into your everyday life? Stating how you want to feel opens the doors on all of the changes you want to make, by allowing them to become bigger, more flexible and full of more possibility instead of confining yourself to a strict regimen. If you say, I want to feel healthy, active and strong you have just opened yourself up to many new methods for finding this feeling. Dance lessons anyone? Weekend hiking trip? Try out that new Barre studio sometime? Instead of saying, “I want to save more money” or “I want to go to the gym 3 times a week,’ ask yourself Why and come up with an answer. Dig deeper. Find a touchtone feeling that will keep you going through out the year. Now if a year seems like a really long time to you…
2 – Commit to 40 days instead of 365
Another of my fave ladies Gabrielle Bernstein loves the 40 day method. She claims (as does a scientific study) that 40 days of a regimen is what is needed to change habits for good. So if 365 is overwhelming for you, start with 40. Forty days of no soda, 40 days of daily green juice, 40 days of riding your bike. I know people who have quit coffee and binging on sweets using this method. You can also use 40 days if you want to add something new to your life. For example I have wanted to make meditation a more frequent practice in my life so I have put myself on 40 days of daily meditation. I am keeping track of it with my new favorite app called Streaks. It allows you to keep track of different streaks at a time by keeping multiple calendars, naming them and then marking off days completed with an X. Looking at the rows of X’s build up on a calendar is about as satisfying as it was in Kindergarten when you saw all of those little gold stars line up next to your name. Once the 40 days are over you will see how any changes you made are suddenly that much easier to make on a daily/weekly basis and just like that, your new habit comes naturally to you.
3 – Review and rephrase.
Its important to review the resolutions you have and make sure all are worded as positively as possible. What do I mean? One summer I was discussing with some ladies the ever present girly question of What do you want in a boyfriend? Instead of giving me a 5 second description of everything they wanted they both said, “I don’t know what I want but I do know what I don’t want,” and proceeded to list dull qualities such as Not Apathetic, Not Boring, Not this, Not that. I didn’t say this to them at the time but I will say it to you now. If you focus on what you DONT want, what you DONT want will have this amazing and annoying way of tracking you down and nestling itself into your life. So if you tend to phrase your resolutions in the following way, “I don’t want to be late for work anymore” or “I don’t want to yell at my family so much,” its time for a rephrase. Try this instead: “I will arrive at work each day, clear-headed and ready to begin my day.” Or, “I will speak to my family in a way that opens up a constructive dialogue and shows love.” Boom. Reword and Rephrase for an optimal and uplifting resolution.
4 – Schedule it.
As another one of my fave’s Marie Forleo says, “If it’s not scheduled it doesn’t exist” If one of your resolutions is to say, write a book, or build a website or to create something that is important to you, you need to schedule time, on a calendar to do said task. Break down the big task into smaller steps and schedule those small steps in a calendar. Buy a small day planner or print out a calendar from Google Drive. You can also use a super helpful free printable from I Heart Organizing to help you begin scheduling your days and weeks more efficiently. I loved them so much I had to add them to my arsenal on Pinterest for easy access. You can find the copies here. If you are someone who tends to be lax on yourself (picture me raising my hand here), scheduling yourself is a huge help to accomplish big tasks.
The best thing about all of this? It’s not confined to just New Year. Sometimes a new Monday can feel like a clean slate, a random Thursday may be the day you begin again or even a week in mid-June is right for you. With these ideas at your fingertips, any day, week or month can be a new year for you. Change is good!
Happy 2014 everyone!