As Christmas closes in and the new year beckons, thoughts turn reflective for many people. New year’s resolutions, year-end “top” lists and fresh starts are typically on everybody’s mind. Sadly, though, all those things are often forgotten about by mid-January.
I think one of the biggest reasons for this uninspiring cycle is that folks, overtaken by the spirit of the season, tend to aim their sights a bit too high. It’s a lot easier to get excited about committing to changes in your life when everyone else is doing the same thing. However, lasting change requires a whole lot more of an impetus than the fervent sway of a crowd.
Sometimes, instead of giant leaps, it requires mere baby steps.
For example, if you want redecorate your house in the new year but feel depressed because you don’t know how you’ll afford to do it, think of the job in terms of sections instead of a complete re-do.
Simply changing the window coverings can do wonders for making a room look completely different. As much as we take such things for granted, seemingly insignificant little tweaks can sometimes pave the way for big changes over the long haul; Need to modernize a room or add more light? Choose bright-colored, lightweight curtains. Want to start saving money for a vacation? Skip the daily extra large Mocha Latte at your favorite coffee shop and make your coffee at home a few days each week. That alone could pay for a plane ticket by the end of the year.
I know it’s easier said than done, but whether it’s changing your wallpaper or your diet, the goal is to focus on the moment rather than the end result.
You may feel a lot of pressure to make grand declarations about the huge shifts you want to bring into your life in the new year, but doing so is just not all that realistic. According to a study done by researchers at the University of Scranton, only 8% of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
That statistic may not sound very hopeful, but by making your resolutions small, actionable and time-sensitive, you have a much higher likelihood of being in that number of successful resolution keepers. Psychology Today explains that making resolutions work involves “rewiring” your brain, which of course, requires a steady succession of smaller changes that eventually lead up to a behavioral shift.
With that in mind, it’s important to not only keep resolutions simple, but also try to celebrate the little milestones in between steps. Additionally, to help you stay on track, especially during the rough spots, designate someone as an accountability partner.
Lastly, try to remember that the end of the year is also about reflecting on things that went right in the past year. Even if it was a rough year and there were just one or two small things that you feel went well, try to find a way to show gratitude for those things. If you can’t think of anything that brought you some sort of joy, at least take comfort in the fact that you’re still here. That matters more than you may realize. At the very least, being alive means there are more opportunities to turn things around, bring good, positive energy into the world and to create better situations for yourself in the new year. And that’s a lot to be thankful for. Happy holidays!