6 Simple Changes For A More Effective Year
I love the beginning of a new year because who doesn't like the feel of a fresh start?
And with a new year comes new resolutions. I know we're already a week into it, so most of you likely already have your resolutions set in place. But have you ever considered dropping your "resolutions" and choosing, instead, to just make slight tweaks in your daily behavior?
I've mentioned this before, but I am a follower of the blog Zen Habits and I even participate in his online course, Sea Change. In his most recent post he suggests trying out new rules instead of resolutions. Creating rules is often more effective than vague goals or resolutions because it gives you actionable tasks.
For example, it is more effective to tell yourself you will do 10 push-ups before you shower every day vs. creating a goal of "I want to get stronger this year."
One version is an everyday, simple task that has a trigger (before you shower) and the other is a vague and fluffy idea that doesn't really connect with a "why?" and also doesn't lay out how you will accomplish the goal. I really suggest you poke around his site and consider taking his course. It's really had a positive impact on my life.
So far this year I have a few vague goals floating around in my head...
I want to learn to code, I want to get fitter and stronger, I want to be healthier, I want to reduce waste and my environmental impact, I want to spend less, read more, and be more positive...
So below I would like to share a few simple changes and additions I've made for my everyday life to really push forward this next year to achieve those lofty goals I have floating around in my head.
Because having a how is how you will achieve what you want in the new year.
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This is actually an addition I made in December. I read this book on my Kindle and then bought a paperback version, as well. I wanted to have a tangible copy I could highlight and get dirty to really, effectively apply his techniques to my life. I haven't perfected his strategies (the author even admits to not having perfected his own teachings), but this book has already changed my life. It has contributed to my happiness and positive outlook - which is not something I come across naturally. It leaves you with the feeling of control over your life, which is a great way to kick off the new year. This isn't exactly a "daily" rule, unless you make it one, like read 10 pages at breakfast everyday. But I think it's a great kick-start to encourage other changes.
2. Drink Green Powder Every Morning
I am not a nutritionist and I can not tell you exactly what this product does (I know, I am the next Billie Mays, right?). However, after searching through the comments and being led to this product by... I'm not even sure which blogger any more, I made an impulse decision to incorporate this into my diet every day. And by diet, I mean what I eat. It's a really simple addition that I feel must be contributing to my health.
This powder has a sort of grassy, earthy taste to it, so it may not be for everyone, but I personally love the taste of veggies and don't require much sweetness for my palette. I know, I am really selling this product.
From what I've read, it's a great addition to your diet to get the nutrients and healthy, veggie stuff your body needs. This really wasn't a technical and logical purchase, but I have been adding it to my breakfast smoothies everyday or just drinking it straight with water if I choose to have eggs instead. I mix it with a banana, spinach, oatmeal, water, flax seed, and some other frozen fruit (like mango, berries, oranges, or pineapples). I personally like the flavor it adds to my smoothie.
Anyways, some changes I have noticed since starting this every day are: improved skin health and a sense of accomplishment each day. This product can't be doing anything other than good for your body and even just incorporating one, small little change can encourage other healthy behaviors. I'll end my technical review there...
3. Walk Everyday
This is one of those goals seems rather vague, but this is how I've been executing the action: Each day at work I take a stroll around our office complex in the morning and a stroll after lunch. Some days I walk around twice each time. Other days just once. I even sometimes go three times or just walk around outside when I need to make a phone call.
We all know walking is really healthy for us. And for those of us with desk jobs, you've really got to find a way to move more. I know it helps lift my spirits, as well, when I can get outside and breathe some fresh air.
I also plan to start walking/jogging at home again. When daylight savings caused the sky to be dark by the time I got home after work, I let that be my excuse for not going outside and jogging. My reasons were: it's unsafe, I could get hit by a car. Very good reasons, mind you, but getting in the way of my health.
To make those excuses futile, I have recently invested in some light up armbands that allow you to be more visible to cars. I think they are pretty awesome and look forward to testing them out. Below are the ones I purchased from Amazon. Click the photo to be linked to it.
4. Switch To Natural Products
This is a simple change I've started to make over the past year really. I got disgusted by the idea of constantly introducing chemicals to my face, skin, hair, etc. so I've turned to a few blogs (especially Reading My Tea Leaves) to guide me towards more sustainable, natural, and healthy products. Everyone has different reasons for why and you may not be able to find a good enough why to incorporate this change into your life, but I certainly did. Below are a few products I have changed to in order to accomplish this:
I hope to switch to reusable cotton balls pretty soon for sustainability reasons, but figured organic was a good start.
5. Practice Yoga Most Days Of The Week
I know this change seems like one of the most vague, but I find that if you get too strict on yourself, you're more likely to rebel against yourself. Or maybe that's just me! But either way, adding yoga even just once weekly has so many health benefits, I can't even scratch the surface here.
I started yoga about one and half years ago after a masseuse recommended it to me to loosen up my hamstrings. I was a gymnast growing up and ever since I quit, I have progressively felt my body stiffen year by year and I am only 24! So I wanted to start to counteract that immediately.
Yoga is great for fitness and breath control. It can help with weight loss. It stretches you out and increases flexibility (which has a myriad of benefits in itself). It can reduce stress. Most importantly, I have found that yoga instills a calm confidence in you. It teaches you self-compassion and self-love. It can really be a great foundation for many other positives changes in your life. I feel that it boosted the positive changes I've made since I started. It brought a spirituality to my life that had never existed before...
Anyways, I may be sounding preachy-hippie now. But I highly encourage it! The great thing about technology and the interwebs and stuff is that you can do almost anything at home! I follow Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube. She has a Yoga Fix 90 course that is 90 days of yoga in a row.
It's really tough, so don't let it get you down! I always recommend starting with her beginner courses before jumping into that so you can ease your way into it. She just started a beginner 30 day course for the new year. And just for kicks, below is the yoga mat I've purchased and practice on:
6. Journal Everyday
My last simple change is to journal everyday. I just started this habit and really enjoy it so far. I don't require any certain amount of pages or even sentences. Everyday I do write out at least three things I am grateful for. There are so many studies on the positive effects gratitude can have on your life... I'm going to let you explore those different articles - this is one that particularly struck a chord with me.
Journaling everyday is advice I took from Benjamin Hardy. He explains that journaling is a keystone habit that can "lock in" all of the other positive habits you wish to develop. Here is a link so you can read into that a little more if you're interested.
I don't write much in my journal each day, but I try to capture at least one moment or feeling. I do write out my gratitude each day... I find it fun to try and think of little things that can provide joy and happiness. Sometimes what I am grateful for is as simple and meaningful as listing: Jonathan, Mom, Dad. Sometimes I get a little more thoughtful like: brisk nights, warm showers, cuddly cats, etc.
I really enjoy the smaller Moleskine journals that are linked below. I used Moleskine while in Design school so I could look cool. I like these little guys because (and I totally stole this tagline from some other person... wish I could remember who) they're great if you're afraid of commitment, which I completely am afraid of committing to journals. Pretty, blank paper makes me nervous, but I do not feel intimidated by the thinner size of these bad boys.
This exercise gets me thinking about the positive things in my life. And so far, I'm happy with my year.
Maybe some of these simple changes are something you can apply to your resolutions. Or maybe you can start thinking through your own resolutions to come up with concrete tweaks and actions that will end in results.
We still have 51 weeks left in the year, so more than anything, let's be grateful for that! Please let me know what your resolutions, goals, and simple changes are for the year or even what you've accomplished to change in the past.
As always, thanks for following along.