We’re approaching another new year and it’s exciting to think about all the great things you want to accomplish in the months to come. That might mean a healthier lifestyle or improved relationships with family or friends or achieving a goal you’ve dreamt of for years.
Setting a New Year’s resolution to check off one of these accomplishments is standard fare this time of year. The thing is, we hardly ever stick with it. Eighty percent of people who make resolutions throw in the towel 6 weeks in. By February, they’ve written off their goals for the entire year! Sound familiar?
This year, think about trying something different so you don’t end up feeling like you’re a failure for not sticking with your goals.
Why we need to change the way we think about New Year’s resolutions
The truth is, we love getting done things, but we tend to dread the actual “doing” of those things. That’s why we almost always fail when we set big goals. We get overwhelmed, we procrastinate and we’re intimidated by our own pre-ball-drop chutzpa.
The alternative: Change your mindset and think small(er).
One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Tom O’Bryan: “It’s not about the home run, it’s about the base hits.” When it comes to resolutions, the same is true: It’s not about the big goal, it’s about the small steps we take every day to get there.
This year, instead of resolutions that are too big to tackle, let’s focus on daily rituals that will help us adopt healthier habits. Every good habit we adopt, no matter how small, adds up over time. Read on for some suggested daily rituals that will make your life richer, healthier, and happier this new year.
1. Stay Hydrated. Drink More Water.
We’ve all heard the eight-glasses-a-day guideline, but if you’re not used to sipping constantly, substantially upping your liquid intake can be hard to manage. Ease yourself into it by squeezing just one more 8-ounce glass into your daily routine. Staying hydrated helps your energy, your skin, your weight, your digestion and slows the aging process.
Not sure how to keep track of how much you’re drinking? Try to keep a reusable stainless steel water bottle handy. You’ll decide to refill it a certain number of times each day to hit your target.
2. Say Goodbye to Caffeine After 3 p.m.
Determined to cut caffeine from your diet? It’s a great idea and could have lots of positive health benefits—especially better sleep—but it’s tough to go cold turkey. Instead of nixing your latte habit, try cutting yourself off at a certain time every day. Over time, maybe you’ll decide to substitute green tea for your beloved a.m. coffee all together.
If you miss the ritual of coffee-drinking, replace it with a caffeine-free option, like herbal tea or cider. And if it’s the walk to the coffee shop or the breakroom camaraderie you crave, do that anyway and fill up your water bottle!
3. Have One Less Dessert Or Think About Skipping It.
If you have a serious sweet tooth, cutting out dessert completely may be a tough resolution to stick with. This ritual abides by the “everything in moderation” maxim, letting you have your favorites on occasion, but in smaller quantities than the 5-year-old within might prefer.
Opting for a healthier alternative might also be a nice challenge. Find sweets made from raw ingredients (my favorite is Emmy’s Coconut Cookies) or freeze some organic blueberries or banana slices to munch on. A bite of organic dark chocolate can satisfy your craving and is loaded with antioxidants too, so it's good for you in small quantities.
4. Enjoy Some Quiet Time.
When your day-to-day life is all about the go-go-go, it can seem impossible to squeeze in self-care. Taking some quiet time for yourself, though, will help lower your stress levels, which can improve your health significantly and help you accomplish other goals you’re working towards, too.
Self-care doesn’t have to be a big, expensive or time consuming though. Try taking a personal time-out for 15 minutes a day. Shut off your phone, soak in a bath, meditate, dance around your bedroom, cuddle with a pet—pick an action that will help you disconnect from the world and your worries for a brief respite.
5. Wait 15 minutes Before Helping Yourself To Seconds.
If your big goal for 2018 is to drop a dress size, you’re not alone. Year after year, the No.-1 New Year’s resolution world-wide is to lose weight. What I tell my clients is that looking to lose weight in a healthy way is that all about small lifestyle changes and maintenance, not extreme diets or workout regimens.
This ritual is an easy one to start with, and it’s a good fix if you struggle with over-eating. We over-eat because the “I’m full” signal our stomachs send to our brains is delayed. Waiting 15 minutes lets you figure out if you should go for seconds because you’re still hungry, or if your body has had enough.
6. Move Your Body Every Day.
Going from zero to 60 on the time you spend in the gym is difficult because it requires shifting the entirety of your daily schedule to accommodate your resolution. That’s a significant hurdle to leap come January 1! Instead, why not focus on adding more movement into your day? Stretch for 10 minutes when you get out of bed. Stand up for 10 minutes every hour. Or—my favorite—insert a walk into your morning, noon, or night-time routine.
If you have trouble motivating yourself to go for a walk, consider using it as the only time you can do something you enjoy, like listening to audio books or podcasts. If you like to drink tea, make yourself a cup when you get back. If you’re watching a show on Netflix, sit down for an episode only when you’ve unlaced your sneakers.
Make 2018 Your Year!
Changing your habits is tough to do by yourself. I work one-on-one with my clients so they don’t have to go it alone. Using everything from lifestyle strategies to functional lab testing to nutrition consultations, I work with you to feel better and healthier overall.
Ready to create some better lifelong habits? Let’s set up a time to talk about how I can help you accomplish them.