Every Day is like New Year’s Day

This time of year is usually met with much anticipation of all that is going to unfold in the upcoming new year. It’s exciting to think about the potential of a fresh start and leaving heartache or disappointment behind. And of course, typically, people set resolutions to help gauge and provide motivation for self- improvement.
For years I would make a laundry list of all the things I would want to work on or change in the months ahead. I had high hopes and great expectations but not much staying power, which has almost become a tag line for resolutions. “I’m going to work out every day this year” (until March). “I’m going to get 8 hours of sleep a night” (until mid-January). It’s hard to change habits that have been ingrained for a long time. Therefore with a sense of discouragement or perhaps eventual apathy that laundry list would be lost and/or forgotten.
So a few years ago I decided to give up making New Year’s Resolutions and just work on overall goals to become a better version of myself. Some goals are long-term (5+ years), others are more short-term (yearly), while others are even more short-term (daily). Those are the ones I want to focus on for the purposes of this blog.
There’s nothing wrong with having long-term goals and ambitions (I’m a pretty ambitious person myself). However, in my opinion, these smaller, more “bite-sized” type daily goals are really where the action happens. It may not be as glamorous but like I’ve said before “S.L.O.W. and steady wins the race”. They may feel incremental and insignificant but as they build upon each other they make a difference.
Let’s play this idea out, using the examples mentioned above. Often people set out to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I’ve seen articles that say most adults (and youth) are sleep deprived so I would surmise that it would be beneficial for all of us to get a little more rest. I know I feel better when I’m well-rested (I’m definitely not as prickly). Does it feel feasible to allow yourself 15 or 30 minutes extra sleep a night? Even if you start with adding extra time to just one night a week or every other night, see if you feel better physically and emotionally. If you do, then that may motivate you to keep it up. The other example above is about working out every day. This can feel very daunting (and potentially impossible depending on your life/work/family schedule). So instead, try parking farther from the door at work, or taking the stairs, or standing at your desk, or walking for 10 minutes at lunch. These activities can get you moving, don’t take much time, and can help towards healthy practices.
Perhaps your goal isn’t one of those two “stereotypical” areas discussed previously. Maybe your goal is to stay positive in your high stress career. Especially if you are an educator; students and/or demands from administrators or parents or state regulations can be easily frustrating. Therefore, possibly your hope is to learn to navigate those waters with a bit more self-preservation (which in my opinion, is a great goal thus this focus on Living S.L.O.W). One of my favorite practices, that I continue to work on, is showing gratitude. I love reflecting on things I’m grateful for as I end or begin my day or even throughout the day, especially when things get harried or don’t go the way I’d like them too. It helps me to stay happy, positive and upbeat (which also often allows me to more easily reframe or see solutions).
Additionally, with this approach, you also get to celebrate more frequently, potentially every day. You set out to make your small daily change and when it happens, you can pat yourself on the back. Who doesn’t want that every day?! And that encouragement helps to build the motivation you may need to go back and do it again.
But what about those days that don’t go as well and you can’t take your victory lap? Well there’s good news there too…this tactic makes it feel like every day is “New Year”. This way, we don’t have to completely give up if we had an off day or didn’t make the progress we’d hoped for. We get a fresh start with each new day, just like each new year. The only person who knows you didn’t meet your daily goal is you. So you leave that behind you, learning what you need to from it and face the new day with renewed dedication and commitment to forge ahead and try again. Life renews itself every day. Isn’t that refreshing! Have a Happy New Year….daily!