There are a lot of opinions out there about New Year’s Resolutions. Recently I’ve stopped making them, but I don’t have anything against them. I figure, if they work for you, go for it – but if not, no sense in stressing yourself out over five or six new goals all at once. Since I work in education, I find that September feels like the beginning of the year more than January (we’re just getting into our really busy season right now!!) and I find that to be a great time to reset and recalibrate after the summer. Here are a few things you won’t find me doing this month.
- Detoxing, cleansing, resetting, or whatever fancy word you want to use for dieting. This is probably because my birthday falls in January and let’s be real, who wants to diet on their birthday, but also January is a tough enough month. It’s the start of a new year, it’s one of our busiest times at work, and it’s coming off of a holiday break, so I like to be gentle with myself and just get myself into a good routine. I consider even having routine a success.
- Making resolutions. You probably guessed this already, but I’m not a huge fan of yearly resolutions. I might make one or two that are broader and more character-based, but that’s pretty rare these days. I find it much more effective to make monthly goals – and I actually tend to make goals pretty much every month – so that I can assess how I’m doing and think about what makes the most sense for me in the moment. For example, after a summer filled with french fries and cookies, in September and October my goals included not eating french fries and cookies…which happens to be pretty darn hard during travel season. What happens if you progress past your resolutions by March, and want to challenge yourself more? Or what happens if something big happens at work or in your personal life, and you need to readjust? This is all part of being gentle with yourself.
- Obsessing over Drynuary. Over the past three years, I’ve pretty much switched to being dry all the time, because that’s what works best for my migraines. I’ve had occasional spats of being able (and wanting) to drink a bit more, and I might have a fancy drink here and there, but I would say I had under ten drinks in 2016 and I have only had half a glass of champagne since September. There’s a lot of hype out there about Drynuary, and again, more power to you if that’s what feels right to you. But amidst all this hype about how hard it is to not drink for a month, it is empowering for me to remember that I go months at a time without drinking because that’s how I feel best. To me, it’s not worth getting a migraine. Oh, and save for that champagne, I haven’t had wine or beer in 3 years. It’s all about knowing what feels good to you and staying true to that. If what feels good to you is a glass of wine on a Friday night, then go for it.
As I mentioned in #2, lately I’ve found monthly goals to be very productive.
My monthly goal for January? Keep my kitchen table clean.
This has always been a tough one for me…in my current apartment, my kitchen table is right inside the back door, which is the door I use all the time. I don’t have a coat closet downstairs so aside from a few hooks on the wall I find it much easier to just hang my jackets on the chairs around the table. And when I walk in, I tend to dump my bag and anything in my hands on the table, and then it just…sits there. There are more pieces to this goal than simply having a clean table: The ultimate goal is to get in a habit of putting things in their place when I get home. Yes, there will always be a few magazines or books on the table, and that’s okay. But that jacket that I wore can probably go upstairs in the closet. That mail should be sorted so that I can pay bills and discard all the junk. And why are those hair ties sitting in the middle of the table? Let’s put those somewhere you can find them when you’re on your way to work out, Kim.
As you can tell, to me this all centers around knowing yourself and what works best for you, and how you want to improve. It’s taken me quite a long time to figure out what works best for me in a few areas, and I’m still figuring it out in a lot of other areas of my life. But as I’ve picked up routines that feel great to me, I’ve been able to stick with them if they make me feel better or make my life easier. As much as I love a margarita every once in a while, I love the feeling of not having a migraine even more. I didn’t make a bunch of changes at once, because making even one change is hard enough. Try making one change at a time, and see how it makes you feel, and let the momentum from your small successes carry you forward to other changes you’d like to try to make.
Good luck, and Happy New Year!