It’s the start of the New Year and with it, it’s time to set some resolutions. Perhaps you prefer to skip setting resolutions or don’t believe in them. I get it; who needs that kind of pressure?
The truth is, you can set resolutions, goals, intentions or whatever you want to call them any time of year. It just seems to make sense to start something new at the beginning of something; whether it’s a day, a week a month or a new year. Face it; we like to feel like we’re gaining momentum and it’s easier to feel the momentum at the beginning of the year because we have the whole year ahead to look for in terms of results.
Resolutions can touch on many different aspects of your life; career, relationships, finances or your health, for instance. I recently wrote an article about the qualities of a great goal called, “Five Qualities of a Great Goal,” and posted it on my website, barebonesyoga.com. In it, I discuss how goals should be measurable and have distinct steps so you can track your progress and reach a specific end-point. Below, are 10 goals you may not have added to your list but could have a significant positive impact on your health. These goals are general statements that need to be translated into a concrete quantifiable goal, but the general idea is there to get you started. Take a look and see if you’d like to add a few to your life:
- Make this the year you really start saving money. Stress around money can create both physical and mental problems. Even if you are struggling to make ends meet, finding a way to save a few dollars a week will help you feel more in control of your life and help you start to build a nest egg. It’s not about how much you save, but rather that you are doing it. Don’t beat yourself up about how much it is or if you have to withdraw from the account every now and then. Be realistic about what’s possible for you but start to build the discipline.
- Figure out how much time you spend in the car each day and vow to do something to change it if it’s more than an hour. I used to spend two hours in the car each day driving back and forth to a corporate job. Now, I ride my bike, walk and every once in a while, drive but it’s local. I can’t tell you how much less stress I feel and I notice it more when I am in traffic, especially at rush hour. If you find that your time is mostly spent in traffic, frustrated, see if there are other ways you can get where you need to or consider changing where you’re going. If this is completely out of the question, look at ways you can decrease your stress on the road. Buy audio CDs and learn something new. Use the time to listen to guided meditation tapes or listen to an audio book.
- Determine if your job is the right fit for you and if not, change it. If you have any doubt that you’re in the right job, move heaven and earth to change it. I know in this economy it’s hard but the reality is you spend so much time at work that if it’s does not give you sense of accomplishment and a sense that you love what you do, start the process of looking for another. If that’s not possible, find time on the side to work a hobby or start a side career in an area that you really love. Start by increasing your networking, update your resume, start searching online and make a list of dream employers for whom you’d like to work. Once you start taking action, your current job will seem a bit more bearable.
- Make and attend every necessary medical appointment required to maintain your health. This includes preventative tests, dentist, general physician check ups and eye exams. If you don’t have health insurance, research lower cost or free services you can attend for preventative tests.
- Be honest about your most unhealthy habit and take action to change it. This could be smoking, drinking, building up credit card debt or overeating. This is usually the habit you’re most concerned about but feel most powerless to change. It’s the thing that loved ones might bug you about and you resist changing. It’s the one you’re secretly (or not so much) worried could kill you if you don’t make a change.
- Step back and evaluate if you’re pushing yourself to achieve new goals. If not, why not? It’s only through setting new goals that we grow as individuals. If you’re afraid of failure or like the status quo, think of it this way: If you only had a few months to live, what would you want to do in those last few months? Take steps to make those things happen.
- Get real about your eating and exercise. I’m going to resist identifying a number of goals around exercising and healthy eating. We usually set these goals at the start of the year and fall off the wagon somewhere around the middle of February, if not sooner. The reality is we all know we need to eat healthy and exercise each day. If you’re struggling to make it happen on both or either count, contact myself or someone you know that has a system and see what you can create for yourself. The reality is eating well and exercising regularly are two of the best things you can do to live longer. But you knew that, right?
- Acknowledge what you’re most in denial about and deal with it. Along with trying to break your worst habit, now’s the time to get real with what you’re in denial about, whether it’s your relationship with a loved one, a mother, a father, a sibling, your weight, your health, or a traumatic experience you’ve had in life. Denial is a powerful emotion and once you’re in it, it’s incredibly hard to get unstuck. Work with a coach, a therapist, clergy, a physician or any other resource that you believe can support you through the process of letting go of that which has got your stuck. Once you let go of the denial around whatever it is, you will move forward in your life with greater purpose and clarity.
- Travel at least once this year to someplace new. Travel is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons, push yourself out of your normal routine, feel unsure and unsteady (both great for personal growth) and learn something new. If you can travel outside the U.S, that’s ideal but if not, pick a new state or take a local road trip. See what you find out about yourself.
- Stop making excuses and start meditating. When I meet people for the first time and they find out that I’m a yoga teacher, often, they’ll say, “I’d love to do yoga but I get bored. There’s no way I could stay in class for an hour. Plus, my mind is too busy. I can’t relax. Yes, I know! This is true. But this doesn’t mean you avoid it. The benefits of meditation (remember, this doesn’t even require you move!) are endless. Lowered blood pressure, decreased stress hormones, greater sense of connection to your body, less reactivity, greater focus and attention to whatever it is you’re doing. Instead of making excuses, why not give it a try? Take 5 minutes and sit. Close your eyes. Take 10 deep breaths. Do that for 5 days in a row. See how you feel. Explore meditation centers or yoga studios that offer meditation classes. It could change your health and your life for the better.
- Love yourself above all others. I know this may sound hokey, but it’s one of the best things you can do to feel stronger and healthier. What does it look like when you love yourself above all others? It means taking care of your health, getting good sleep, eating well, speaking from the heart, not holding back what’s on your mind, sticking up for yourself when it’s warranted, holding your ground when it’s needed and giving yourself compassion when it’s what you need.