Five Impactful (& Free) Self-Care Changes For 2019

New Years Day is here, and at this point, most people have started to consider their goals and resolutions for the next 365 days.

Resolutions - they’re always approached with such optimism, though the unfortunate reality is that most resolutions won’t be carried out past the first 30 days of the New Year. New Year’s Resolutions can actually be quite depressing, and frankly, they set us up for failure.

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If just last week, you were struggling to make it to the gym, what makes January 1st different? Did you change any specific habits? Was there a major adjustment to your routine and work schedule? Did you hire a babysitter?

When planning for the future, we often forget several important things. What did you do WELL in the past? What is occurring in your life at any given time? Did you break down your goal? What personal habits will you need to acknowledge? Why is this important and what impact will it have? How can you simplify the overwhelm to really focus on what matters?

Celebrate Past Wins

By setting resolutions, we essentially make a list of everything we did wrong in the past year and try to decide how to fix that or make it right. Of course, people don’t really approach resolutions with that attitude - they’re meant to be a way to achieve self-improvement and self-care.

We’re always on a fast-track to self-improvement.

What if instead, you made a list of everything you did right. Can you remember the last time you ended a year with an extremely positive attitude? Not just because you were excited about what’s ahead, but because you were proud of what laid behind?

Get out a blank piece of paper and make a long list of all your 2018 wins. Don’t overthink it, just start writing. Celebrate the beautiful life that you lived. Talk positively to yourself.

Plan Seasonally

Resolutions are created with an entire year in mind, yet most people struggle to get through the next 30 days. It’s no wonder we fail. We’re overwhelmed with just the thought of getting started, and how we’ll stick with our shiny, new habits.

Just as the world has seasons, so do our lives. We just often overlook them. Get out a calendar, pull out your planner, or open a tab for your online schedule.

Pull up January through February. Start with ONLY the next 90 days. What is occurring in this period of time both physically in the world, and mentally in your schedule that could help or hinder your goal? Is now the right time to focus on that goal, and if the answer is yes - what roadblocks will occur and how can you plan accordingly?

Example: 2019 will be the year that I TRULY manage my physical health by joining a gym

  • World: Snow - Will this hinder your ability to get to the gym some days? What is plan B for at home?

  • Work: Additional work hours - Is there a big project already penciled into your first quarter? How will this affect your current schedule, and what else can you eliminate to make room for your health?

  • Life: Extracurriculars - Is your child involved in a sport this season? Do you have a seasonal hobby? How can you plan for or incorporate fitness into this event?

Make Small Changes

Tackling one big goal is seemingly impossible for almost anyone. There is a beginning, middle, and end to every journey, but that is often ignored in goal planning. If you want to make a big change, you have to look at the whole picture and break it down as small as you possibly can.

If your goal is to eat healthier in the New Year, you have to plan past just “eating healthy.” You need to define that in your own terms. Do you know what a healthy diet really looks like? Maybe right now, you just know that you need to reduce your sugar intake.

Instead of being overwhelmed, take it one step at a time:

1-Remove sugar from one meal
2-Remove added sugar from breakfast
3-Allow one serving of natural sugar (such as fruit)
4-Learn to read food labels in order to find hidden sugars
5-Create a list of weekly breakfast options
6-Research sugars and carbohydrates to continue improving breakfast
7-Plan one week at a time
8-Keep at it, until you feel confident with your breakfast options
9-Remove added sugar from lunch
10-Continue to research, learn, add, eliminate, and eat healthy through the next 90 days

A broken down 10-step process to eliminate added sugars, and eat healthier in the New Year. It won’t be easy, but it’s simplified and it’s focused.

Know Your Personality

I am a Type 4 on the Enneagram and an INFP on the Meyers-Briggs Scale.

Type 4- Romantic: I focus on what is missing, I’m emotional and expressive, and often feel unique or different compared to the status quo. Meaningful experiences are essential to me. A few of my strengths are my creativity, ability for self-expression, and compassion. A few of my weaknesses are my emotions, sometimes withdrawn approach, and desire to always look for more.

INFP- As 4% of the general population, I’m creative, passionate, and an idealist. In the past I’ve had the habit of giving up when the going get’s tough, but I’ve learned to embrace my flaws and see the big picture. It allows me to work hard, and accomplish meaningful tasks. I can now see the big picture, and encourage others to do the same. Sometimes, when I’m really passionate I have a tendency to push too far and have to remind myself often of what’s really important.

How well do you know yourself? Do you know how your personality and character traits impact your goals? Personality traits are not the end all, be all but it’s crucial to have a better understanding of ourselves as individuals. This allows us to better understand our habits, our self-perception, our emotions, and so much more.

Embrace the Essentials

In 2018, I had the deep realization that one of the biggest obstacles to all of my goals, was the overwhelm and clutter in my life. It was my first full year working from home and I felt as if I should be accomplishing SO much more than I actually was (the Type 4 in me.)

It wasn’t until I started to take a hard look at my surroundings, that I realized I was incredibly overwhelmed by distractions. These distractions came in the form of events on my calendar, things in my home, meaningless goals that weren’t moving the needle, etc.

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Identify what’s necessary in your life and embrace the idea of doing what’s important instead of doing it all. Learn that saying “no” to one thing, allows you to say “yes” to another thing. By doing so, you can channel all of your best energy into what really matters.

Build A Lifestyle

I used to love setting goals and making each New Year my “best year yet.” Then it occurred to me, that I want every year to be really great. Even with the hard stuff, I want to know what I cultivated good habits and a healthy lifestyle that carries me through. I want to learn to embrace life as whole. From one season to the next. There is good, there is bad, there are wins, there are losses.

Life overall is beautiful and tragic, simple and challenging, happy and sad. Goals are a fun addition to an already meaningful life. I hope you can see the light that 2018 was in your life and learn to build a strong foundation for your days moving forward.