New Year’s Resolutions have a bad reputation. As January approaches, it can feel like it’s time to assess your imperfections, shortcomings and areas of improvement, and make resolutions to remedy the parts of you that you deem aren’t ‘good enough’.
But what if your New Year’s Resolutions nourished you in different ways – what would that list look like?
What if you looked at your current habits and lifestyle, and questioned just how healthy – or unhealthy – they really were for you? From your daily routines to your digital consumption, hobbies and relationships, here’s how you can make 2021 your healthiest year yet.
Use The Five Why’s Technique
Take one of your resolutions – let’s say, I want to declutter my house. Ask yourself five times why you want to achieve this resolution. It’s a really simple way of whittling down your list of resolutions to goals you realistically and passionately want to achieve in 2021. So for our example, the answer to your first ‘Why?’ might be because you can’t currently make the most of your space.
Why? Because you have no idea where anything is.
Why? You used to have storage space but you accumulated so much ‘stuff’, that went out of the window.
Why? Because you have kept a lot of things over the years that you don’t need.
Why? Because sometimes you never know when you’ll need it – or it’s sentimental.
By using the Five Why’s technique you’ve discovered that not only is this a resolution that’s realistic, it’s one that you’re committed to and you understand how you can keep it over the next 12 months – don’t keep things you don’t need, and keep the things that you do need organised. When you declutter your house, everything will be easier to find, solving all five of your ‘Why’s?’
Think about the journey, not the destination
You have your list of New Year’s Resolutions written, and you’re excited to begin 2021. Now it’s time to start thinking of your resolutions as SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound). Is your resolution to save money? Consider how much you’re aiming to save, what you’re saving for, how much you can realistically save each month and where you’re going to put your savings to gain maximum value. Are you hoping to get a new job? Consider whether your CV needs a polish, if your LinkedIn profile needs updating or if you need to connect to recruiters or people working in the same industry as you. Are there any webinars you can join or people you can connect with for advice on job hunting?
Don’t fall into the happiness trap
‘Hedonic adaptation’ is the eternal chase of happiness; as we achieve our goals our expectations rise, therefore we believe we’re never truly happy. By assigning happiness to achievement we risk never enjoying true contentment, which is what we all deserve. How many times have you said, ‘When I achieve X I’ll be happy’. And what happened when you achieved X? Whilst we all strive to achieve our resolutions, we should be celebrating ourselves when we do just that – not raising the bar each time. When you achieve X, it’s time to celebrate and move onto resolution Y.
Check your healthy habits
Are they as healthy as you think? You work out, you count your macros – but is this lifestyle good for you or is it having a negative impact on your life? Are you enjoying your time at the gym or home workouts, or do you feel guilty when you miss a day? Do you eat a certain way because you enjoy it or because you feel like you ‘should’? It’s time to address just how healthy your lifestyle really is. New Year’s Resolutions are about becoming your healthiest self – and that looks different for all of us. Consider cutting down your workout days if you need to, or the length of time you work out. Mix up the type of workouts you do – add some dance workouts and stretching routines and appreciate your body for all the amazing things it can do.
Re-address your work/life balance
Feel like you’re living at work? When you started working from home, you might have reaped all the benefits (no 6am alarm clock, no commute, homemade lunches, pyjamas from the waist down) but these perks are starting to wear thin. Time to put some boundaries in place and re-claim your home. Leave the house before, during or after the working day, make sure you take your lunch break and review whether ‘flexible working hours’ just equates to ‘starting early and finishing late’ for you. If you’re sharing your workspace at home with other people, ask whether this is working for everyone. It’s time to review your work/life balance and make sure you’re happy.
Clear your digital mind
Start off with your emails. I’m already judging you if you’re the person who has 17,496 unread emails (it doesn’t mean you know how to use your time wisely, it means your inbox is out of control and you’re probably missing important emails), but if you find you’re constantly receiving emails from mailing lists you don’t remember joining, or from brands you only signed up to enjoy that sweet 10% off at first purchase, it’s time to unsubscribe. Spend half an hour on a cosy Sunday evening working through them and your inbox will thank you for it. Next stop – social media. Do you find you’re connected with people who leave you feeling stressed out or inadequate? If you don’t feel comfortable breaking the connection, take advantage of the mute button. Receive rude messages or comments? Block the trolls. Immediately. Don’t give them a second or third chance – they made their choice when they tapped out that aggressive message to you. If you’re finding your inbox on Instagram overwhelming, turn off messages from Instagram Stories – this makes getting in touch that bit harder.
Here are a few of mine:
20 books in 2021
I’ve had this one for the past two years but I’ve never quite reached my goal. It’s been a good reminder for me to keep picking up a book, though – I love reading, but sometimes you need that little nudge. I’m going to try again next year – I had a reading dip mid-2020 that meant I only made it to 13 so I’m hopeful that 2021 will be the year that I make it! You can find reading recommendations on my Instagram page.
I’ve worked in financial services for years, I come from a family with a long history in investment – and I don’t even have an ISA. I know, the shame… So 2021 is the year that I start getting into passive income in a variety of ways. I’m not going to detail my specific goals, but it’s on my list.
Relax with my workouts
At the moment I workout five times a week for 45 minutes and do a stretching routine for 10 minutes every day in the evening. However, in the new year I start a new job and my routine and mindset will shift. Whilst I will still have 45 minutes in the day to exercise, I know that going from being out of work for 10 months to working full time and commuting will be a big transition for me – and coinciding with Veganuary, the busiest month for vegans! – so I’ll need to be mindful of that. I’m going to keep my stretching routine as I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made, and it’s a great way to relax before bed, but I’m going to keep an open mind to my workouts and see how my new routine plays out.
Anyone else find this comes and goes? Sometimes I’m super prepared and have the whole week organised, and other times I can go for weeks jumping from one day to the next with no idea what I’ll be dishing up until 7pm and the fridge is casting a dull light across my uninspired face.