The New Year always feels like an opportunity for a fresh start. And timing-wise it really works; coming at the end of what for many of us is a month of busy indulgence that can wreak a bit of havoc on the heathy routines we aspire to.
I’m in my late 40’s now so I’ve done quite a few New Years’ (LOL – maybe more than I’d like!) and I think I’m actually getting better at it. I used to make reams of resolutions and then be really frustrated and disappointed in myself when I didn’t keep them. So, in addition to sharing my personal intentions for 2020, I’m also including a few guidelines that have worked for me over the years in hopes that they help you make more meaningful, positive resolutions for your 2020!
3 Tips To Make Your Resolutions More Sticky
Start on January 3rd
Set intentions, not resolutions, and make less of them
It’s a subtle but meaningful difference. Intentions are generally deeper and more thoughtfully created but also more forgiving. I used to make a huge list of things I would change about my life and self. Not only was it overwhelming, but it was totally unachievable. And like most people, by the end of January I had abandoned most, if not all, of them. Two to five is a good number.
3. Set the intention and then make it SMART
You’ve probably heard this acronym relating to business goals and may be rolling your eyes. But making your intentions SMART prevents you from making vague resolutions that you won’t keep. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (important to you and your life goals), Time-based. For each intention you set, write down any tactics you think will help you meet it in SMART style. As an example, say you want to reduce stress by starting or solidifying a mediation practice. To make that SMART, write it down as: Meditate 5X per week for 10 minutes. That is definitely Specific, Measurable and Time-based. Is it Achievable and Relevant? That is up to you to decide. If it isn’t, change it so that it is.
My 2020 Resolutions fall into 3 buckets:
- Eating – December is tough, I love food and I have to admit appetizers are my favourite way to eat. Holiday parties with loads of tempting little noshes and flowing bubbly really bring out my indulgent side. And I married an Italian – so the 24th is an amazingly delicious seafood meal with lots of courses including at least one pasta, several desserts and lots of vino. By January I am so ready for a reset. My reset is simple but kind of hard: no sugar, no grains or flour, no dairy, max 1 espresso per day, little or no alcohol. 30 days is ideal, but 14 days or even 7 days is still amazing. This might not be right for you – I firmly believe there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Don’t set yourself up to fail. At the very least try to increase the proportion of fresh fruit and veggies in your diet and reduce or eliminate the whites – white sugar and white flour. You will be amazed at how much better you feel and those sugar cravings do actually disappear. But I highly encourage you to work with a naturopath or holistic nutritionist to figure out what is best for you.
- My intention is to really stick hard to my plan for the full month of January, and after that endeavor to live 80/20 – 80% very clean with 20% wiggle room if I want it. Personally, I find what I have for breakfast sets the tone for my day. And I feel best with a protein smoothie as breakfast. Sometimes on the weekend I make a full on more elaborate breakfast for the family, but most mornings we each have our own preferred go-to. And it always includes a protein source. My best morning smoothies include fruit (usually organic frozen berries), healthy fat (frozen avocado or nut butter and chia seeds or hemp hearts), Niyama Organic Plant Protein (of course!), water or plant mylk. Sometimes I have it as a bowl instead of a smoothie, by using less liquid and topping with more fruit, coconut chips, seeds and maybe homemade GF granola if I have some in the freezer.
- Daily movement – for me- that means committing to 3-4 strong yoga practices per week, and a few sun salutations on the days I just can’t fit in a full practice. And outdoor exercise every week; whether it’s just a walk in the cold all bundled up, or ideally some family ski time. Choose something you love – movement should be something you crave and enjoy, not something you dread.
- Prioritize sleep – For me this is crucial so it’s on my list each and every year. Sleep is not my superpower – it is something I really have to manage carefully, with good sleep hygiene, the right environment, and the help of Sleep Like Buddha. 30 minutes before bedtime. My sleep routine consists of going to bed and getting up as close to the same time every day as possible. For me, that means lights out at 11:00-11:30 pm, and waking between 6:30 and 7:30 am. No caffeine after 11am, and no emails or work after 9pm. Of course, there are days and weeks when this doesn’t happen and that’s life. But its important to get back into the routine that works for you ASAP. Your bedroom should be cool, very dark (or use a sleep mask) and in the colder months a humidifier adds to the comfort of your sleep environment. Keep your bed for sleep and sex – leave the TV and other screens in the main room so your brain knows to make the right associations when you get into bed.
- Manage Stress – we all have stress in our lives, and for most of us it’s fairly chronic. Avoiding it is not possible for most of us, but managing it is. And most of the above intentions play a huge role in managing stress for me, so all I will add here is carving out 1 hour per day for personal downtime. For me this can look like: reading a novel purely for pleasure, taking a hot bath with oils and salts, cuddling with our youngest (until she stops letting me) and/or my husband, 15 minutes of meditation in a restorative pose at home, or maybe an episode of This is Us – I’m just starting season 3 – no spoilers please! This isn’t as easy as it sounds for me – I’m pretty task oriented and I find it really hard to do nothing, even for a few minutes. As an entrepreneur, the work never really gets finished, so it becomes about prioritizing what can be done realistically and setting some boundaries for what is enough each day and week. As a wife, mom and bonus-mom, household tasks seem to multiply (seriously the laundry!!!!!) so prioritizing sanity over perfection is crucial. Lastly, 1 capsule of Daytime Zen every morning as soon as I wake up, before I even get out of bed, has been game-changing for me. A combination of the 4 nutrients that have helped me most over my 20+ year corporate career in natural health, Daytime Zen helps me feel calm yet alert, better able to focus on what I need to without feeling overwhelmed, or having that stress-related adrenal fatigue crash in the afternoon. And also, a bit nicer of a person, which is good for those around me LOL.
- Practice kindness – This one felt strange to try to make SMART but keeping it vague will reduce the stickiness. And since it’s definitely important (Relevant) to me, here it is: a minimum of 3 random and authentic acts, deeds or words of kindness to others or myself daily. What that could look like: giving a stranger an authentic compliment, giving my husband a leg massage after soccer without him asking, putting a pack of Smart Sweets in my youngest’s lunch without her knowing (she packs her own lunch now YAY!), watching my tone of voice when speaking to others, calling my mom just for a chat not a favour. Some days there might be way more than 3, but 3 is my minimum. Mostly the exercise is to be conscious of being kind, as the easy ones probably come naturally to most of us. But some of them take more effort or take us out of our comfort zone – those are the ones I want to count and increase consciously.
I hope some of these tips and intentions resonate with you! Would love to know yours – there is always room to improve and evolve and I’m always learning. Hope you have a happy, healthy new year!