Here is a video if you prefer watching:
I am a big believer in carving the lives we want for ourselves any day of the year. With that said, there is something kind of magic about a beginning of a new year; that makes us re-evaluate where we’re at, and what our hopes are for a new year coming. With 2020 putting things into perspective, I thought I would share 5 of my favorite New Year’s resolution ideas that have made a huge difference in my life this year. And, I hope, it brings something valuable in yours.
1. Begin your day with a purpose
The way you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. So if you begin your day by scrolling your phone, checking your email, or seeing what’s new on Instagram right after you wake up, you kind of let the outside world influence you right from the start.
And we’ve all been there. I’ve been guilty of this, for sure!
Now if those Instagram stories, or even emails, inspire you and make you feel good about yourself, then maybe it’s actually not that bad. But if not, it’s better to leave those for later in the day.
Because did you know that the first 20 minutes after waking up our brain is in what’s called the alpha stage? As Kimanzi Constable says it in his Entrepreneur Europe article “How to Win Each Day in the First 20 Minutes After You Wake Up”:
“It’s been called the gateway to the subconscious mind. That time window is when your subconscious mind is most impressionable and soaks up information like a sponge.”
It means we have to be very mindful about what kind of information we consume right after waking up, and if it helps us be happier, healthier, and more productive.
So, instead of checking social media, begin your day by checking in with yourself and filling up your cup — before you go and meet the rest of the world.
Some great things to practice first thing in the morning are journaling or morning pages, meditation, exercise, affirmations, or simply peacefully enjoying a cup of warm tea or coffee. This year, I have introduced all of these in my morning routine, and it’s made a huge difference in how the rest of my day goes.
And think of what you wanna accomplish today. What your priorities are for today; before anyone else comes in with their idea of that. And maybe even allocate 5–15 minutes to working on a project that’s really important for you, but that you may not have time for later in the day.
When we have dedicated the morning to ourselves, we are in a much better place when meeting the outside world. We are calmer, more present, and are more likely to achieve what we had hoped to achieve.
2. Establish a healthy sleep schedule
With the importance of a good morning ritual in mind, this next step comes kind of naturally. To be able to have a meaningful, productive beginning of a day, not only we need to feel well-rested when we wake up, but we also need to have time for all of that in the morning. This is where a healthy sleep schedule comes into play.
Try waking up early: ideally, before 5:30 am. There is a reason why many highly successful people — like the billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, the Apple CEO Tim Cook, Co-founder and CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey — choose to wake up early.
It gives you a head start of the day, boosts your productivity; and early risers are proven to feel happier and have a more positive outlook on life.
Now if you’re someone who cannot imagine getting out of bed any earlier than you absolutely have to — I feel you! For the most part of my life, I was convinced I was a night owl. And that early wake-ups were simply not for me. Every time my alarm clock went off around 7 am, all I wanted at that moment was to continue sleeping.
But the benefits of waking up early sounded so convincing that I decided to give it a proper try. And I must say, I fell in love with it! Although, I’m not gonna lie: with three small kids, early wake-ups have been a little challenging this year. But when I do wake up early, I get so much more done! I’m so much more productive and I just feel… happier.
And I actually found that, at least for me, waking up around 4 or 5 am was easier than waking up around 7.
But the ability to wake up early, and still feel well-rested, goes hand in hand with what time you go to bed. For you to have enough sleep and feel well-rested in the morning, try going to bed before 10–11 pm. Not only does it give you enough hours to sleep, but it helps you build a healthier sleeping schedule altogether.
3. Exercise daily
Now I know this is a very typical one, and for a moment I was debating myself on if I should include this in the list. I decided to go ahead and do it.
But not for all the usual reasons.
Thanks to 2020 being the unusual years it was, I have turned from someone who hated (and I mean: hated!!!) working out, into someone who does it every day. And, I’m telling you: it’s a game-changer!
One of the most valuable insights of 2020 for me, personally, has been how our body is our main instrument. And, just as a guitar player needs to tune his guitar before every concert, we need to fine-tune our bodies at the beginning of a new day.
It helps connect our mind, body, and soul. It plays a huge part in our mental health, and it, actually, boosts our brainpower.
Let me make sure I emphasize this enough: Excercise boosts your brainpower!
So not only does it help you increase mindfulness and feeling of balance and happiness, but it actually boosts your productivity and even your learning capabilities, if you’re a student!
And I’m not even talking about all the other obvious benefits of physical exercise.
So what type of exercise are we talking about here?
Yoga is a great choice, as it has so many benefits. And it’s what I have chosen for myself. There are actually different types of yoga, so you can choose the one to your liking. But it can be any other type of exercise that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Whether it’s running, dancing, kickboxing, planking, or anything else.
Just try to do it every single morning! Even if you can only invest 10–15 minutes in that, it will make a huge difference if you do it every day!
Meditation is a skill you can develop.
If you’re someone who meditates on a regular basis: kudos to you, that’s amazing! But if you’re someone who either hasn’t tried it yet or maybe you have tried it but didn’t like it at all… Just try it (one more time)! There are many different types of meditation out there, so try a couple of different ones and find the one that works for you.
It can be as simple as focusing on your breath for a couple of minutes, or observing your thoughts that come and go like clouds in the sky… But there are also more dynamic and also spiritual types of meditation.
And if you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep: try Yoga Nidra for deep relaxation. This can also be a great way to get some rest in the middle of the day if you haven’t had enough sleep during the night.
Just know that meditation is a skill you can develop. So if you don’t particularly enjoy it the first time — it’s ok, most of us don’t. I certainly didn’t. Give it time. The more you practice it, the better you become at it. And you might actually start enjoying it, as you begin feeling all the benefits of meditating.
Meditation is proved to relieve stress, help manage anxiety and depression, enhance self-awareness and your ability to focus, it improves the quality of your sleep, and can even help reduce pain and fight addiction if this is something you struggle with.
And it’s simply a great way to check-in with yourself on a regular basis.
5. Be kind to yourself
If at any point you feel like your failing: give yourself some grace. Be kind to yourself, and try again tomorrow.
There’s absolutely no point in beating yourself up for something.
In fact, you have far better chances of improving moving forward if you acknowledge what happened, understand the lesson this experience has taught you, and decide on what you want to do differently next time. (If there is a next time.) And then forgive yourself and let it go! There is absolutely no point in ruminating.
Just be kind to yourself.
Final thoughts. New Year’s resolutions are a great way to motivate yourself to try something new and bring something good into your life. But their purpose is to help you be healthier, happier, and more successful (or whatever it is that’s important to you). No matter how good something sounds on paper, it only works if it’s right for YOU. So if you give it a try and don’t feel that it’s right for you: let it go. And feel zero guilt about it.