New Year: The annual mid-life crisis

It’s that time of year, a little bit like an annual mid life crisis, where many people feel the need to slap together a list of things we ‘must do’, the new year resolutions list. I’ve already been asked what’s in store for 2017. Honestly? I don’t know for sure, and that’s ok. Of course I have ideas, things I am contemplating; volunteering, travel, more teacher training, but I’m not attached to plans. If I was, I wouldn’t have ended up in the UAE almost nine years ago, thinking I would be here for six months. As I’ve written about before, I’m not a big believer in the concept of new year resolutions as I think we have 12 months and 365 new days in the year to decide at any point what kind of changes we want to make. Every single morning is a fresh day and a chance to start something new, just like every day’s end marks the chance to close a chapter.

If you do want to do this, however, maybe you want to think about making this a time for realistic, manageable goals. In The Power of Less, Leo Babauta talks about small goals and making small steps. He says that when only one habit is adopted for a month, rather than a whole barrage of overwhelming new demands you place on your life or your body, the success rates can be as high as 80 per cent. Given that new year resolutions more often than not, fail by the end of January, this sounds like a pretty good way to move forward. He says: “Do less, not more, but achieve more because of the choices I make. Identify the essential, eliminate the rest … If you can’t maintain your focus, you won’t achieve the goal.” Makes sense, right?

So perhaps you choose just one habit to change or introduce, each month, maybe one each week. That gives you the chance to have at least 12 over the course of a year if you’re the person who needs constant goals, but for those of us who prefer smaller steps, you can start one month at a time.

Make yourself accountable, write things down, keep a log, have someone to check in with, to support you, even post the goal or the progress publicly if you think that works for you. If you want to start exercising more but don’t know how or when, badger your boss to introduce lunchtime circuit classes, lunchtime yoga. Think that’ll never happen? How do you know if you’ve never asked? Even if it’s only 30 minutes, that’s more than you’ll be doing now. Get people involved. If you want to get a group of mums together to start morning power walks, group dog walks, social groups to help network socially or professionally, set it up. All these things are manageable, we just need the confidence to step forward and make it happen. To take that leap of faith.

Most importantly, stop and think about WHY you’re setting this goal, or these goals. What does it mean to you? Imagine how it will feel to achieve these things, visualise that, keep that as an imprint in your heart and your mind. Tell yourself in the present moment that you have already done it, speak it as a present fact such as “I am active on a daily basis”, “I spend quality time with my children on a daily basis”, or “I do not check my work emails when I am at home with my wife/husband”. Repeat these affirmations daily, even writing them down, 8-10 times to imprint this in your mind, until it is indeed your reality.

The main thing is, don’t get attached to the fact that it’s January, that it’s a new year, because truly, every day you wake up and are alive, is the chance for something new; to learn a new course, to read a new book, to sign up for new podcasts, to start a new habit, to start writing a journal, to commit to doing something once a week which you love, be it beach walks, be it watching something that makes you laugh. If you want to read more but don’t have time, download audio books and listen to them while you’re making dinner, or on your commute to work. These kinds of small changes are all here, right now. January is just one month. New starts are at your fingertips all the time. Just like I think birthdays shouldn’t necessarily be a major crisis or even celebration, new year isn’t a time to panic either.

Peace out, it’s almost Christmas! x

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