At the beginning of every year, I sit down with my family and we come up with resolutions for us to work towards. Mine usually sound like: “I need to start eating healthier”, “I will start working out” and my favorite, “We need to save money.”
I will be the first to say that our resolutions are huge endeavors that are hard to measure. I went to the gym once this week. Is that enough? I didn’t up-size my fries, does that constitute saving money? Hardly, but I know that killed my healthy eating promise – That’s for darn sure!
This year, I decided to take a different approach. The challenge was to come up with a list of small things that we can change that are not difficult, but will bring positive change in our lives. The list contains actions and changes that are attainable and really just small modifications to the everyday things we do (or don’t do). I decided to print the list and have it readily available to re-read and reset myself every few days. Even if I miss on a particular day, it’s fine, I’ll get things back on track quickly.
The list comprises of things we’ve been meaning to change about our lifestyle and help us focus on the things we deem important in life, plus helping to simply our lives.
Here they are:
1 – Write in a Diary/Journal every day.
I’ve kept a diary for the better part of my life, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been overly ‘religious’ about writing in it everyday. In fact, I would say it comes in waves – A few weeks on, a few weeks off. Come to think of it, kind of sounds like my blog, but I digress. When I do write, it really does make me feel much better. It helps my summarize the day and remind myself of the things I accomplished and things I need to work on.
2 – Every week, purposely walk someplace you would have normally driven.
This is pretty explanatory, but not as trivial as it sounds. There may be reasons you cannot do this. Weather, injury or even physical ability. In my case, it’s winter for a few months per year. This really puts a damper on walking outside, but the spirit of this is just to do something physical, that I wouldn’t normally do. The other day, I realized I hadn’t actually done this, so walked up and down the stairs at home 20 times.
3 – Monitor your Screen time on your device. (Turn on Screentime on your Apple iPhone, or Digital Wellbeing on your Android device).
This is REALLY eye-opening. I was embarrassed to actually see the time I spent on each of the activities I use my phone for. For me, social media and messaging were the worst culprits. Most is unnecessary and mindless time-wasters.
You could even set limits for yourself and it will stop access to sites when thresholds are reached. This might be extreme measures, but hey…I might try it if I can’t get it under control. Regardless, it’s good to monitor your usage and reclaim some time back into your day.
4 – Make a point of listening to others, not talking.
This happens all too often. You are in a conversation and instead of listening to the other person, you are thinking of what to say next. Not only is this disrespectful at some level, but it defeats the purpose of having a conversation. This is hard and requires practice!
When asking someone how they are and you care about the person, actually listen to the answer. Pay attention to what they are saying. When you listen to people, you learn things you wouldn’t normally. Things stick and make sense. In this crazy fast world, we can sometimes mistake what’s important and try to get through them quickly and conversations with people you care for could be one of them. Also, when someone talks to you about a difficult topic, don’t sit there trying to fix it for them. Listen to them.
5 – Write down one thing you are thankful for at the end of every day. Put it in a box.
At the end of every day, write it down. It could be something that happened, something you are grateful for, or even a positive thought you had. If you are thankful for it, write it down on a small piece of paper and put it in a box. Do this everyday.
We started this last year.and some days it’s harder than others. We went a couple of weeks here and there where we missed, but tried to stay on track as much as we could. To help the family remember, we did it as a ritual at the end of every dinner.
The best part of this, is we opened the box on the following New Year’s day and read all the notes. It was amazing to hear all the blessings we had over the year. Some things, we had forgotten and it put us into an appreciative mindset.
5 – Turn off all screens for at least 15 mins before bed.
During this time, talk to your partner in bed, or to your kids in the family room. Spend time in silence, put on a refreshing face mask, read a book, drink an herbal tea, Escaping the bombardment of everyday life for just a few moments before bed will reset your brain and get you ready to sleep peacefully.
6 – Read a book per month (at least).
In this digital world, attention spans are reducing at an alarming rate. Time gets consumed by so many things, that spending time on anything one activity feels stressful to most. In fact, if you’re reading this now, I’m impressed, you stayed with me. I send you a great big thank you and a hug.
Reading a good book forces you to stick with a story line, following characters and using your imagination for a longer period of time, stimulating learning and in fact, making you a smarter person.
I love to read, but I know how hard it is to fit in a book per month sometimes. Although I don’t think it’s cheating, I listen to audio books whenever I get in the car. I am still getting through the book and it prevents me from listening to mindless morning shows.
7 – Pay it forward.
Donate food to, or volunteer at the homeless shelter. Give Blood – Nothing feels better than giving life. Recycle whenever you can. Re-use instead of throwing away. Buy the person in the drive-thru behind you a coffee or french fries (OK, I love fries). Pay the toll for the car behind you. Make someone smile when their day would otherwise suck. Don’t expect a thank you or payback of any kind. Whenever I’ve done this, I have felt so good. It is literally so cathartic and cleansing. If you haven’t done this before, trust me, it will add contentment at a level you may not know existed.
8 – Don’t Gossip. Stop it in it’s tracks. Keep it positive.
Ever get one of those calls from a friend that starts with, ‘You’ll never guess what I found out.” What usually comes after is typically juicier than a piece of KFC chicken (you know, those pieces at the bottom of the bucket). It’s really difficult not to want to hear all about Tim’s horrible new tattoo or Donna’s untimely pregnancy, but we must never forget, these are real people, with real feelings.
Usually, the friend calling you would throw you under the gossip bus the next time your butt looks a little weird in your Lululemons. It might be difficult to stop the person from disclosing the info, but the least you can do is keep it to yourself.
A good practice is to speak only positively about others. You can’t go wrong that way. Like the old saying, If you’ve got nothing good to say, don’t say anything.
9 – Get the sleep you need.
Burning the midnight oil once in a while is OK and sometimes necessary, but getting the proper amount of sleep should be non-negotiable. When you sleep, your body re-energizes and helps to remedy many of your body’s ailments. It’s easy to wear lack of sleep as a badge of honor these days, but that’s a dangerous path to go down. Getting the right amount of sleep, 8 hours for most of us, is crucial for a proper working body and mind. It’s truly the best gift you can give yourself.
10 – Give compliments every day.
11 – Organize something everyday.
Print or save this list on your phone to have easy access to it. Read it at least once per week.
I truly hope you find what your looking for in your journey.