Our habits build up or break down our resilience and today is a great day to examine them and decide what we want to let go, keep, and start, as we begin the new year. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, defines habits as behaviors repeated enough times that they become automatic.
Good habits get you better results but the even bigger benefit is they help you feel good about yourself. Here are my top 20 to help you get started:
1. Start your day with a ritual.
Our first thoughts and actions of the day set the tone for the rest of it. Instead of jumping out of bed with your hair on fire, (after hitting the snooze one too many times) get up a bit earlier and start your day with calm and centering, like sitting with a cup of tea, writing in your journal, or grounding with deep breathing.
2. End your day with a ritual.
We are an under-rested society and since sleep affects everything from our mood to the immune system, ending your day with a ritual will prepare your body and mind for rest. Set a time you want to be in bed and then turn off blue screens an hour before, take a hot bath or shower, drink something warm, listen to soothing music, move gently, or journal to recap your day.
3. Keep your word.
When we overcommit and overextend ourselves because we have difficulty saying no, it is hard to keep our word to ourselves and everyone else. Overestimate the time things take, add a buffer of time to everything you do, and say yes less often so that when you do, you can keep your word.
4. Create space.
The busier you are, the more space you need to slow down, process, and decide what is your highest and best. Schedule downtime every day to review, reflect, and prioritize today and tomorrow.
Sometimes we can make things more difficult than they need to be–not intentionally, but with unrealistic expectations, attachments, or negativity. Reframing gives us a different perspective and takes us from a helpless to an empowered state of mind.
6. Write it down.
Whatever you want to improve, change, or measure, like your spending, eating, or practicing, writing it down will keep you mindful and accountable. I find a new journal or planner to use every year to help me stay on track in a creative and fresh way.
7. Slow it down.
Resilience takes time. When we slow down our talking, thinking, driving and eating, we are more present for joy, connection, and meaning. This can mean honoring your spouse, comforting a friend, or embracing a new project.
8. Eat your frog.
Your frog is your biggest, ugliest, and likely most complex, and least desirable thing to do on your list. Do this first, until completion, and you will feel so good about yourself you will have more energy and time for the rest of your day!
When we practice self-compassion and are kind to ourselves when we make a mistake, we open our hearts to be more kind to others. No matter who we forgive, it benefits us most because it heals our own wounds.
Athletes know they make their biggest gains in performance during their recovery time when they rest, rehydrate, and refuel. Your recovery requires you to incorporate activities that recharge and restore you, like reading a novel, connecting with a friend, or spending time with your pet.
Since habits are created with our intention, (or lack of it), creating a vision board is a tactile and visual way to keep your most important ones top of mind. You can do this by drawing, cutting out images and words from magazines, or creating a word graphic.
When you think of someone you miss, love, or are concerned about, reach out to connect with a text, email, note, or call. In this busy and fast-paced world, we all live in, we forget how important personal connection is for all of us.
13. Pick a theme.
A theme is one actionable and meaningful word you want to focus on for the year in every area of your life, including your health, relationships, work, and money. My word for this year is Alignment.
14. Let go.
It’s hard to let go of a vision we have because we are afraid to disappoint, miss an opportunity, or admit it’s just not the right time. When we let go of what (or who) is no longer needed, we make space for new things to come in, maybe even bigger and better than we could have imagined!
15. Break your busy.
We are obsessed with busy, believing it keeps us engaged, productive, and important and nothing could be further from the truth! Busy is a habit that does not build our resilience and you are the only one who can break it by creating more time and space around everything you do.
16. Practice Gratitude.
Gratitude changes our perspective because having an appreciation for the full spectrum of life completely shifts our focus. Whatever we focus on expands, and when we choose gratitude, we focus on the abundance, opportunities, and possibilities.
17. Choose fun.
When I am fun, I make choices that make me happy, like eating healthy, exercising, and giving myself permission to need a break. When I am fun, I rejuvenate myself by slowing down and appreciating all the beauty and abundance around me, with the freedom and enthusiasm of a child.
18. Practice compassion.
The book, Compassionomics reveals there is a direct inverse relationship between compassion and burnout, and the higher your compassion, the lower your burnout. Take the 40 seconds required to smile, listen, and offer comfort to someone and you both will feel better.
19. Take good care.
Self-care is not selfish or soft, but a practice that contributes to our strength and overall sense of well-being. I’m not referring to massages or pedicures, (which are great healthy pleasures), but doing the things we know we need to do to feel good about ourselves.
20. Commit and recommit.
Resilience is learning and growing about yourself in every situation. Developing good habits requires practice and when we forget, get busy, and lose focus, (and we will) give yourself the grace and space to commit and recommit.
Studies show small habits make a big difference over time. Pick ONE of these (or ONE of your own) and when it becomes automatic, build or stack another one. As always, I would love to hear about your habits for 2020 and how I can best support you.