Has it started yet? The inevitable slide back into old habits you hoped to shake off in the New Year? Please don't beat yourself up about it. No other month carries the burden of expectation more heavily than January. Right from the get-go, we launch into a new year with high hopes and short memories.
Weirdly, many of us share the same personal growth goals: We want to cook more, eat better, drink less alcohol, be neat and organized, be more productive, be more active, and sort out our relationships. Then, the second or third week of January rolls around, and we find ourselves self-sabotaging by doom-scrolling social media while eating frozen pizza and a sleeve of Oreos (washed down with generous lashings of tequila). And a ciggy or two.
Here's how to stay on track, and beat those January Blahs for good:
DON’T: Make lofty, generalized resolutions. 'This year I will be a better person,' 'This year I will get fit, and' This year I will get out of debt.' These are all admirable ideals, but much harder to achieve than a specific goal.
DO: Ditch these lofty ideals dressed up as resolutions and make the shift to setting specific goals and a realistic, detailed plan for how to achieve them. For example: Tell yourself, "I will lose 5lbs this month by eating a more plant-based diet and finding an exercise routine that works for me." I bought myself a Bellicon and followed this trainer, and it's been a game-changer for me. Find out what works for you and stick to it.
MAKE A NEW PLAN, STAN!
DON’T: Try to do everything all at once! Remember, January is only the first month of the year. You have eleven more months to achieve your goals. If you keep working on your 1st goal for an entire month, you will be more likely to achieve it and still have the emotional bandwidth to add on the next goal in the following month. This stepped approach builds up your self-esteem and patience.
DO: Set yourself up for success by making a realistic list of the five things you'd most like to achieve this year. Then, plan for how to tackle them one at a time. Make January your planning & research month! For example, if your goal is to get more organized, focus on something specific (like your closet or laundry room), read about how to do it, get the right tools to tackle the job, and stick to it until it's done. I can tell you from experience that an organized home is much easier to maintain than a chaotic one!
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EFFORTS
DON’T: Set yourself up to fail by creating unrealistic goals. That will just make you feel bad about yourself and is a surefire way to boomerang back into familiar old habits.
DO: Instead of saying, "I will learn to speak French this year," say, "I will practice French at least 20 minutes per day, on average." And pat yourself on the back each time you actually do it! This is about keeping it real and building on smaller, more attainable wins.
FOCUS ON THE UPSIDE
DON’T: Make your list of New Year’s Resolutions New Year’s about “giving up” things you love (like leftover Halloween candy or staying up late, binge-watching your shows).
DO: Replace those negative habits with something positive. Instead of gorging on candy (my favorite vice), I got myself a gorgeous little herbal tea setup for my bedside table. I set a bedtime reminder and try to be disciplined about turning off the lights at 10:30 PM, no matter what! It's a little ritual that I love even more than candy!
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
DON’T feel like you have to go it alone. I use Google Calendar to run my day. And if you want to learn something, improve fitness or sleeping habits, there’s a training app for almost anything these days. Find one that works for you and use it to track your progress.
DO: Feel powerful because you're in control of your own destiny. Make thoughtful, positive choices for everything you eat, wear, and bring into your home. Buying less but buying better things has always been a goal of mine, and I plan to keep myself honest this year.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL
DON’T: Fixate on an "all or nothing" mentality. Of course, you'll have a second (or third) margarita, stay up too late, miss a meeting, or skip a week of exercise. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible and not give up on yourself or your goals!
DO: Be kind to yourself and be grateful for the freedom to run your own life the way you want to. There are plenty of people around the world who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Try to remember that, and every day will be a little bit brighter and better.