If you’re like most people, you start each year with good intentions, goals, and aspirations but you forget about them by Valentine’s Day (if not sooner). How can you make this year different? If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last 19 years of parenting and adulthood, it’s that how you start does matter. Yes, you want to finish well, but how you begin can pave the way for success. So, without further ado, we give you our top 10 tips for starting your 2018 off right!
1. Drop (or Skip) the Gym Membership
For a lot of moms, the goal this year is to drop those last few pounds of baby weight. You could start using that gym membership you’ve been paying for the last six months (or start the one you’ve been thinking about setting up) but a lot of people simply don’t go. It’s not that they don’t want to lose the weight or particularly enjoy paying for an unused membership. There just aren’t enough hours in the day – especially if you have kids.
Why not try something different? Rather than signing up at the gym, start a workout group with your friends. Or you could go hiking with the kids. Get a dog that needs to be walked daily. In other words, find ways to exercise that are more of a pleasure than a chore. You’ll enjoy it more, which makes it far more likely that you’ll continue doing it.
2. End the Diet Mentality and Focus on Your Health
There’s always a new fad diet to try, a solution that will prolong your life or help you lose weight or maybe even give you more youthful skin. But fads are just that – passing trends that rarely hold any real scientific weight. Rather than subscribe to this year’s diet plans, why not shift your focus to your overall health. Eat more fruits and veggies, cut back on the fried foods, sugars, and preservatives, and incorporate more whole grains into your diet. If you’re so inclined to do so, also consider cutting back on some of your meat consumption – especially red meats and those that have been processed (smoked, cured, etc.).
3. Find Your Stressbuster and Do It More
Stress is a part of everyday life. The car breaks down. An unexpected bill comes in the mail. One of the kids is sick and now someone is going to have to stay home from work. It all adds up, and it can take a serious toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Fight your inclination to power on, ever the warrior, and find that one thing (or a dozen things) that help you feel less stressed – your stressbuster.
Maybe it’s a nice, warm bath and a good book. Perhaps it’s listening to your favorite music or meditating. Or maybe it’s laughing with your kids. Whatever it is, do it more. Do it when you’re happy, and when you’re sad. Do it when you feel like crying or screaming, when you feel inadequate, or when you’re afraid. But also do it when you’re proud to the point of tears, or when you finally get that big promotion. Why? Because if you can teach your mind and body to relax in good times, it will do so even better when things are hard.
4. Spend Your Energy Wisely
Tony Robbins is one of my favorite motivational speakers, and it’s all because he said something that changed my life: “Where focus goes, energy flows.” What it meant to me, as someone who’s lived with depression and anxiety most of her life, is that many of my problems were self-created. I literally worried about anything, everything, and even nothing at all to the point that I was stressed all the time. Then, when real problems came along, I spent all my energy on worrying instead of finding a solution. Needless to say, I’ve learned better. I still fall into bad habits, of course, but I can now recognize when I’m wasting energy on something I can’t change.
So, if there’s any piece of wisdom I can give you for 2018, let it be that you can decide where to spend your energy. Want that promotion? Maybe the answer to your problem is to disengage from the water cooler gossip and focus on what you need to learn to do the job. Or maybe you simply need to ask; a lot of times, our next stage in life is just waiting for us – all we need to do is step into it with confidence. Find those things in your life that you’re wasting your energy and find the solution – or decide to simply let it go. Sometimes, that is your only solution.
5. Know When to Hold On and When to Let Go
If there’s anything that’s constant in life, it’s that things are always changing. Children grow up, parents and extended family members pass away, and new babies are born. Trends come and go like the wind, and technology is constantly evolving. All that change means you have to know when to hold on and when to let go. There are some things worth fighting for – an epic love, the health of a tragically ill child – but don’t hold onto the things that don’t align with your morals, beliefs, personality, needs, or goals. Let go of toxic people and know that the ones worth holding onto will usually make the effort to be a part of your life.
6. Love Yourself More
As parents, we’re used to taking care of others all day, every day – and we can lose ourselves in the mix. Some of us have also grown up with a skewed sense of who we’re supposed to be. Media and Hollywood shove unrealistic body shapes and lifestyles into every aspect of our lives. Employers often treat individuals like they are expendable, and we forget our own value. And even life itself can beat you down, making you doubt your abilities or worth. Thankfully, many of us are waking up to the truth: we all have worth, our bodies do not define us, and individuality is beautiful. So, this year, remember to back all that knowledge up with some self-love and self-care. You’re worth that and so much more, and your kids will ultimately thank you for it as well.
7. Go on More Dates
Just as we can forget ourselves in the daily grind, we can forget to romance our mate. Unfortunately, this romance is necessary to help you hold on through the tough times. Again, life will change – it’s inevitable. You will change, and so will your partner. The trick is to try and grow and change together, in the same direction, in a way that is healthy. Dating helps you do that. It encourages you to remember that you’re more than just parenting partners – you’re also lovers and friends.
8. Enjoy Nature More
As a species, mankind has become disconnected from the world that was here, long before our technology took over. There is still a world of wonder out there, and connecting with it can remind us that life is so much bigger than bills, work, and daily responsibilities. Spending time out in nature – even just on your front porch, stargazing or watching the sunset – can also relieve stress.
9. Make More Messes
Children have it right – life is just more fun when you can make a mess. I’m not saying you have to go and make mud pies with them. Chocolate chip cookies will suffice, as will pulling out all your crafting supplies for a day full of beads and glitter.
10. Declutter Your Life
Since you’ll hopefully be making more messes this year, you may want to consider some decluttering as well. Remember – you don’t want to hold onto things that have outlived their usefulness. That includes clothes, toys, and even kitchen gadgets that you bought and never use. For some, it may also mean cutting out toxic people or changing jobs. Life is complicated enough without a bunch of clutter, so this year, vow to clear it out!
BONUS: Staying on Track All of 2018
Another amazing lesson that I learned from Tony Robbins is that goals and resolutions are pretty much useless. We only have so much willpower, and temptation will always win. BUT you can change things for the better by “raising your standards.” It sounds simple – too simple, really, but it works. When you decide that you’re no longer going to waste your money on cigarettes, that you won’t let them run your life anymore and then throw them out for good, you’re far more likely to quit than if you simply make a resolution to do so.
The same goes for losing weight, spending more time as a family, or cooking healthier meals this year – decide that your aspiration is more than just a goal. Make it your new standard and then put your energy and focus into making that a reality. Losing weight means getting up, each morning, and putting on your running or hiking shoes. Form the habits on good days and bad days. Because habits make new lifestyles.