I like change, and I’m inspired by fresh starts. Every January is that fresh start for me. I get giddy thinking about all of the new possibilities, and I’m overwhelmed by where to start.
I call these fresh starts my “New Year’s Improvements”. They are NOT resolutions. I believe that resolutions are too easily broken, and who needs more guilt in their life. So instead, I make a short list of ways to improve my life in a positive way. I’ll talk more about my list of improvements throughout January. But right now, let’s talk about you.
Are you a resolution maker or breaker – or perhaps both? Do you get excited on January 1, go to the gym that first day with a goal to lose 20 pounds, vow to clean your entire house by Easter or save for a vacation to Tahiti? Then 60 days later you hate yourself, because your gym shoes are collecting dust, the frig is full of ice cream and left-over pizza, and the vacation savings account barely covers the minimum balance to keep it open?
Let’s stop here for a minute. I want you to take that nasty word by the tail, open the window and throw it out! Now pick a nicer word that makes you happy or excited. Whatever you call it, it should be something that inspires you.
Now, to jump start your new word into action, here are a few pointers from the book “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor that motivate me all year round.
Find something to look forward to – This one is my favorite. It can be something small, like going out for a drink with a girlfriend after work, or something big like a vacation or a family holiday. Personally, I have both and I’m never without one on my calendar. Consider these things little gifts to yourself.
Build positivity into your surroundings. My office is a really good example of this. I have pictures of my kids and their grade school artwork framed like valuable gallery pieces; I make fresh-brewed coffee with a stone filter/cup set that I bought at Starbuck’s for under $20; and I have a sugared cinnamon reed diffuser that makes the room smell heavenly. No, I don’t have a homemade afghan thrown over the back of my chair, but I don’t mind spending time in this space nonetheless!
Revisit a talent you haven’t used in a while. Are you a terrific writer but haven’t had the courage or the time to start or finish that book? Do you have a guest room or a corner of the basement that you could turn into an art studio? Are you great with kids, but yours have left the nest? If you can’t think of a specific talent, what about just something that you love to do? I have been dying to join a book club to encourage myself to read more, but I can’t find one. So I’m going one step further, and I’m going to start one on Facebook! What do I have to lose?
So take out a piece of paper, and start having fun. Write down everything that you want to do this year, and pick the one that sounds like the most fun. Once you make some progress, the other things will follow.
Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential. (Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage)