Tuesday, December 18, 2018

7 Good Habits to Adopt in the New Year

red sweater, leopard bag, black jeans on a blonde sitting on the steps in London

I love the New Year because I'm a big fan of new beginnings. I am 100% the kind of sucker who buys into the whole New Year, New You philosophy because why not? Any excuse for some time and effort spent on self-care is good enough for me! I love to organise my closet in January, start the year off with a healthy diet, hit the gym more than usual, get organised in every aspect of my life, set goals and get into the practice of developing some good habits. What I don't love are impossible resolutions and the self-doubt and general feeling of disappointment when life gets in the way and things change. The only thing constant in life is change and so I think we should all stop beating ourselves up when we get off-track because to be honest, in most cases it's inevitable.

This year, I'm not thinking of resolutions at all (I haven't really in several years) and I'm not considering the things I don't do well or need to stop doing. It seems too negative to start a new year thinking about what's wrong, what need's improvement and what I should stop doing. Instead, I'm thinking about the good things I can do for myself. We work hard, life is hard enough, the news is discouraging and if nothing else, we all deserve to start our year off with positivity. These are 10 things I'd like to do for myself this year and in the interest of sharing, maybe I'll convince you to do them for yourself too.

1. Be kind to yourself.
It's easy to put ourselves down, find the faults and concentrate on our shortcomings, but there's really no need for that. If all we ever did was to look in the mirror and say one kind thing to ourselves every morning, imagine the positive impact it would have on our days. You'd never consider it acceptable to be rude to someone else, so why do it it to yourself? Perhaps it's because we fear being cocky, conceited and self-absorbed? Be kind. See the good. Treat yourself as you would anyone else and enjoy the change in how you feel.

"Tomorrow is tomorrow.
Future cares have future cures,
And we must mind today."
- Sophocles

2. Live in the present.
It's hard to achieve our goals if we're constantly focused what's happened in the past. Likewise, worrying too much about the future is distracting as well. Focus on the now and allow yourself to enjoy your life in the moments as they happen. I'm a firm believer that the rest will take care of itself.

3.Think positively.
I subscribe to the notion that negativity breeds negativity. I also believe that in the reverse - that positivity breeds positivity. I don't know about you, but I'll take the positive over the negative any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Why focus on what's wrong when surely it's better to put our energy into looking at what's right? I believe that a little positive thinking can change everything.

4. Accept that perfection is imperfect.
This is a tough one. In a world where we're constantly being encouraged to achieve perfection, it's hard to let go of that as a goal. We want perfect lives, perfect bodies, perfect careers, perfect homes and the perfect images on Instagram. The unfortunate truth is that perfect doesn't really exist and constantly striving for it is most certainly the path to disappointment and eventually, unhappiness. I'm not saying we should all give up and become slobs with no ambition in life, but the idea that we must always be better takes away the joy of our accomplishments as we achieve them. Of course we all want to be better, but there's nothing wrong with taking 5 minutes or even 5 days to celebrate that we are better now than ever before we get back to striving for our next goal. I'm determined not to let the constant pursuit of perfection steal my joy.

5. Say yes, but also say no.
Saying yes is positive and I'm a big fan. Try new things, accept new responsibilities, make new friends, indulge in new experiences, go new places and achieve things you never thought were possible. These are all the benefits of saying yes. I love saying yes. It's also okay to say no and I think we're constantly being influenced to think otherwise. Saying no is negative or it makes us appear scared, weak, incapable or unwilling to embrace change, so we try not to do it. The whole idea that opportunity only comes once so saying yes to everything is the only way to get where you want to be in life is constantly thrown at us. I get it and there's some truth to it, but there's also a downside that no one tells you about until it's too late. Saying yes all the time can make you sick, burn you out and leave you feeling spent, empty even as you try to do too much. My theory on this is that it's a great idea to say yes, but sometimes that also means saying no. If you're trying to excel in one part of your life, maybe you need to pull back in another area to be able to accommodate what it takes to achieve your goals. Maybe you don't make it out to as many girls' nights, to every birthday party or you have to send a really nice gift instead of going to all 20 weddings you've been invited to. Maybe it's time to stop doing favours for every single person who asks or you need to cut back on all the late nights at work in order to train for that marathon you said yes to. My point is, it's absolutely brilliant to say yes, but sometimes that means saying no to other things and that's okay too. You only have 24 hours in the day and you can only do so much. Saying yes to every single thing and ending up in the hospital won't get you where you want to be.

6. Accept that you can't please everyone.
I think by nature we are people pleasers. Everyone enjoys being liked, getting compliments and having the feeling you get when you've genuinely pleased someone. It's okay to admit that, but it's actually impossible to please everyone all the time. It's also not worth pleasing anyone at the expense of making yourself miserable, sick or worse. If you have to disappoint a few people now and then, it doesn't make you a bad person - it makes you human.

7. Your day can start whenever you want it to, so turn those bad days into good ones.
This was some advice from my dance teacher who has a lot of wisdom at the ripe old age of 23. He said this to me one day when I said my day was horrible because my morning had been a nightmare. He was right. So my morning was practically apocalyptic - I dropped a curling iron on my foot, spilled my coffee, missed my train and left my phone at home. It doesn't mean my afternoon or evening have to follow suit. You can turn your day around whenever you decide to with a little positivity and a lot less dwelling on what's already happened.

8. Believe in yourself.
Someone once said to me that not believing in yourself is silly. Why would you sign yourself up for something if you don't believe you can do it unless you're a glutton for punishment. It's true and I think most of us genuinely believe we can do something when we start the journey, but then we let the doubt creep in. It doesn't make you egotistical to believe in yourself, it makes you confident and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's also not embarrassing as we're made to feel or believe to believe you can do something and fail - it's normal. Believe you can, believe you will and if you fail, just know that it's only part of the journey on your way to achieving what you always believed you could.

"I do not try to dance better tahn anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."
- Mikhail Baryshnikov

9. Compare yourself to you and no one else.
There's an old saying that says comparison is the thief of joy and I don't think I've ever heard something that's more true. If you compare your achievements, your looks or your abilities to someone else, you're putting your focus on them and not yourself. You're also taking away your ability to work on the things you can control, which is in my opinion the only way one can improve. She's prettier than me, smarter than me, has more money than me... These are excuses. Instead we can focus on what we can control and say to ourselves Did I do my best? Did I improve and do better than last time? Have I done everything I could do to make this better? Did I give it my all? There's no point in measuring our best against someone else - the only people we should ever try to be better than are ourselves.

10. Celebrate even the smallest accomplishments.
This is something I've been doing lately. Sometimes it's easy to get discouraged between big goals, but when you celebrate the mini-milestones, it reinforces that you're working toward something big and you're progressing. Rather than only celebrating when you've saved the whole downpayment for your house, why not celebrate every time you reach a smaller milestone goal? You may lose the dance competition, but if you finally figured out how to do that samba step that's been driving you crazy, you're still winning. Did you get 100 new followers on Instagram this week? Celebrate that. I think as a culture we are often discouraged from celebrating the little things, but I'm not here for that. Sometimes the best thing I do all day is not ordering a fattening pizza to be delivered to my house, but it might be the hardest thing I've done in months and I'm not above congratulating myself on even a tiny success like that. Life's too short to skip a single reason to celebrate.

What good habits are you hoping to master in the new year?
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