It is the new year and resolutions are on everyone’s mind whether you make them, break them, or laugh at those who actually believe this year will be the year they finish them. Resolutions can be a big deal. But what if you resolved to make a few new habits this year instead?
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I have to admit, that I am a total geek over the beginning of the new year. Add in the fact that New Year’s Day is my birthday and it is a double whammy for me.
I dream up great goals and ideas and vow that this is the year I will get them all done. As you can imagine, I fail at completing them every year. I make progress, but don’t always see it through.
I am a dreamer and a planner so I keep trying.
Last year I read a great book called The 12 Week Year: Get More Done In 12 Weeks Than Others Do In 12 Months and found it both inspiring and eye opening. Putting some of the book’s tools and suggestions in to practice was good for me and I learned a lot. But again, after the second round of “twelve weeks” I kind of burnt myself out on the concept and barely paid attention to the teachings the rest of the year.
I had great intentions, but failed to make some of the teachings “stick” or become regular habits.
A habit develops over time and sticks with you. Much better than a resolution can.
I love reading inspirational and motivational books, especially at the beginning of the new year. Geek mode in overload, I know. This year, after listening to some suggestions made on my favorite Podcast – Do It Scared – by Ruth Soukup – I am tackling a few books on habits.
I have read several times that to form a habit it takes on average 21 days before it becomes a part of your daily routine. You do it without thinking or having to remind yourself.
Much like taking your vitamins after breakfast every morning. The new habit becomes a part of your routine and sticks with you over time. You no longer have to work at it so your mind is then free to start a new habit.
The most popular habits and resolutions made by people each year have to do with health and finances of course. We set goals to start exercising, eat healthy and get in shape. We also plan to pay off all of our credit card debt, set up our emergency fund, and spend less money.
None of these are bad goals to make.
But what if you tried a different approach and made some new habits that benefited other people and made you feel good about yourself?
- Once a month buy the meal for the person behind you in line at the drive thru.
- Leave a note or piece of candy in your child’s lunchbox once a week letting them know you think they are awesome!
- Compliment your coworker on her new outfit or hairstyle.
- Pick twelve different small businesses and shop them first before heading to the big box stores for what you need.
- Pick twelve different non profit organizations like your local animal shelter and donate money or items they need. Maybe even pay for the adoption fee to save a dog’s life until they get adopted.
- Have lunch with a friend once a week just to let them know you like spending time with them.
- Call your mother or father more often.
- Donate items to the local food bank or thrift store every month. Your house will never be so clutter free again.
- Start a gratitude journal. This has been linked to helping you to reduce stress, anxiety and help you sleep better.
- Go to bed an hour earlier each night and get more sleep. This will make you a much nicer person to be around.
- Recycle. This save wildlife, sea life, and the earth for future generations.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it” – Abraham Lincoln
I know what you are thinking, these are all nice in theory but how can these things become habits that benefit others?
The answer is simple. Put these items in your planner just like any other item you add to your to-do list. Every month! And actually do them. Over time you won’t have to remind yourself to practice gratitude, think of others, and help out where you can.
I believe these habits are just as important to grow and nourish as paying off your debt and getting in shape. I have those types of goals or habits on my list for this year too of course. But I also plan to cultivate a heart for others and become the person my father would be more proud of. I plan to follow his example and invest time in others.
Just some things to ponder in the new year.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31