I’ve always really loved New Year’s.
In Russia it’s a big family holiday that we used to celebrate with a huge, long, multi-course, late-into-the-night family meal, a New Year’s tree, presents, and even a visit from Ded Moroz. It wasn’t a religious holiday but the New Year’s tree was very similar to a Christmas tree and Ded Moroz was very similar to Santa Claus, although to get your presents you had to sing or dance or recite a poem. (My dad often made some extra money by working as Ded Moroz for a few families:). We still celebrate this way in America and I love it.
The other thing I love about New Year’s is a chance to think about the year ahead and some things I’d like to experience. Kiddo and I got into the habit of making an annual vision board about some of the things we want to do in the new year and it’s one of our favorite things to do.
What I have stopped doing a long time ago is making New Year’s resolutions. We all work really really hard, we run around our lives at increasingly fast pace, and our to-do lists seem to only be growing — at least that’s what I am finding. It’s awesome to aspire to certain goals but making resolutions seems like yet another way to add to that daunting to-do list and put more pressure on ourselves.
Science teaches us that it’s the small things and everyday habits that have the greatest impact on how we feel, not the big accomplishments on which most of our New Year’s resolutions tend to focus. With that in mind, here are 10 Really Simple Ways to Make 2015 Amazing Without Making a Single Resolution:
Savor something small every day. Enjoy your morning coffee without multitasking by checking your email or cleaning up the kitchen. Take a minute vacation during the day to eat a piece of chocolate and actually taste it. Savoring small everyday experiences makes us a lot happier than enjoying big life stuff, like promotions or vacations.
Make tiny bits of progress. Forget big goals for a moment. Instead, if there is something you want to achieve, commit to making a tiny bit of progress every day. Research shows this is the best way to actually achieve your goals. I love this post by Leo Babauta of the awesome Zen Habits blog about how to create a flossing habit by flossing just one tooth.
Be a little kinder to yourself. Most of us are our own toughest critics. “I suck because I can’t do that yoga pose the woman on the mat next to me is doing,” “I have no self-control so I eat too many sweets,” “If I were smarter I would get that job I want.” Would you talk like this to your friend? No. Try treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion you give to those you love.
Give yourself permission to have a bad day. I’m an optimizer so when something is going wrong my instinct is to try and make it better. But sometimes stuff just goes wrong, you have a bad day, you’re feeling rotten, stuff isn’t going your way. Let it happen. Give yourself permission to have a bad day, not get a lot accomplished, not make it better right away, and well, if the best thing you do that day is have it end and go to bed, awesome.
Make someone feel good once a day. If this sounds daunting and not something that fits into the “simple” list, it shouldn’t. Hug your kids or significant others just a bit tighter in the morning. Say thank you to the barista who made your coffee and smile. Text a friend and tell them they are awesome. Give your colleague a genuine compliment. Making someone feel good takes a tiny bit of effort and is one of the easiest ways to add joy to your life.
Do less. That big home project you’ve been putting off that’s weighing on you? Consider just not doing it. A woman I met recently told me she had been planning to re-upholster a few chairs and had them in her basement for years. One day she realized she would never actually get to it so she called a junk removal company that came and picked them. “I felt so relieved and happy,” she told me. Want to have friends over but don’t feel like cooking? Don’t; get takeout or ask everyone to bring something. Doing less doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you a better caretaker of you.
Move a little slower. I feel like we’re all hurrying through our lives instead of living them — maybe you do as well. Find time every day or at least once a week when you move slower. For me this is Saturday mornings: Instead of my usual early morning walk followed by crazy-paced getting ready routine, I wake up later, take a slower later walk, and then actually sit down for breakfast with my family without also checking email at the same time.
Try new things in small doses. If you want to learn a new language or how to cook Italian food, cool. But trying a new recipe or taking a different way on your run or walk are awesome small ways to add new experiences to your life. Not only does it make life more fun, but research shows that it also helps time slow down.
Don’t text and walk. I think texting has become such a core part of our lives that this deserves it’s own spot on the list. (AKA I have a problem with this and I’m going to try to do a lot less of it.) You know that texting and driving is dangerous, but did you know that texting and walking is more so? Nick Bilton made not texting and walking his New Year’s resolution and wrote about it in The New York Times; I was inspired to add it to this list.
Keep a what “I’ve done list”. Instead of always focusing on what you have to do, appreciate what you have done. You can do this daily when you write your to-do list — it’s one of my favorite productivity hacks — or keep a separate list. Kiddo and I recently started a little learning jar, where we put in notes about things we’ve each learned this year. Whatever format you choose, give yourself some credit and pause to appreciate what you’ve done, learned, experienced as you go through the year.
Happy New Year and here’s to an awesome 2015!
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