Thursday, January 23, 2020

10 Good Habits to Adopt in the New Year

10 Good Habits to Adopt in the New Year

I love the New Year because I'm a big fan of new beginnings. 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.

Rather than focusing on resolutions, I usually like to make a list of things I'd like to do or places I'd like to visit. This list of habits to adopt in the New Year was originally published in 2018, but I find it's a good one to keep looking at year after year as a reminder... Rather than weight-loss goals or gym missions, this list is all about being good to yourself and I hope to master each of these a little bit better in 2020 than I did in 2019.

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.

Additionally, part of being kind to yourself is to practice self-care and I believe in doing this as much as you need to. Treat yourself to a break, have a nap, get a facial or massage, have your nails done, eat your favourite food... Chances are you're a busy person and we're so conditioned to hustle that sometimes we forget to look after ourselves. Try to do something in the interest of self-care at least once a day, even if it's something as simple as meditating for 5 minutes. It's worth it!

"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 only breeds more negativity. I also believe that in the reverse - that positivity breeds more positivity. I don't know about you, but I'll take the positive over the negative any day of the week. 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 perfection doesn't really exist and constantly striving for it is most certainly the path to disappointment. 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 do more, 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 to 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. You only have 24 hours in the day and you can only do so much. Saying yes to every single thing and ending up burnt out 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...
This is some of the best advice I've ever been given. It came from my dance teacher after I told him my day was shot because the morning had been so terrible. He wasn't wrong... It's never too late to make something out of the time you have left, even if it's only a couple of hours and this advice has helped me to turn a lot of doomed days around.

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 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 than 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. Focus on yourself and be your own competition.

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. Every single step in the right direction is getting you closer to your goals and where you want to be. If that's not worth celebrating, even with just a high five, then I don't know what it.

What good habits are you hoping to master this year?
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