January is the month for rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit by means of New Year’s resolutions – many of which seem to fade by about week two and a half!.
Willpower is like a muscle. It gets exhausted from overuse, but can also be strengthened with the right practice.
By this logic, the notion of restricting yourself from anything (chocolate, alcohol, sugar, tantrums, relationships, whatever …) is just too exhausting and therefore inevitably, you’ll wear out and give in.
We advise strengthening your willpower by setting yourself small, achievable goals, which will slowly but surely change your habits. And by the way, it is said that it takes over 21 days to start to form new habits and start to break old ones, so no wonder we all give up by about the middle of January when the January blues hit!
Whether your goal for 2017 is soul-enrichment, or a slim-trim waistline, be realistic about the lifestyle changes you’ll make or risk going cold-turkey and relapsing right back into old ways.
Set yourself some simple daily and/or weekly tasks to help improve yourself in 2017.
1. Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK)
From giving up your seat on the tube, to buying lunch for a homeless person on the streets, to picking up litter in the street, these small acts can improve the lives of others drastically at little expense. The results, often rewarding, will play a huge part as the stepping stones towards the new, selfless you. And even if you are unable to do this daily, make sure you put RAOK into practice a couple of times a week. It does make you feel good and hopefully, makes a difference however small or big to the recipient or the environment.
2. Do something out of your comfort zone
Being comfortable and relaxed is obviously a good thing, but so is a little stress and anxiety now and then. Psychologists have found that when we challenge ourselves, we tend to rise to the occasion. Think about it, did you ever do something you were really proud of when you were in auto-pilot mode?
Taking risks also helps you to become more creative:
In becoming a person who regularly takes calculated risks, challenges yourself, and tries new things, you’ll cultivate openness to experience, one of what’s known in psychology as the “Big Five” personality traits. Openness to experience — which is characterized by qualities like intellectual curiosity, imagination, emotional and fantasy interests, and a drive to explore one’s inner and outer lives — has been shown to be the best predictor of creative achievement.
So even if it’s just once a month, make an effort to do something you don’t feel 100% comfortable doing. Here are some good examples we’ve come up with:
- Travel solo
- Take up learning an instrument or a new language (online or with a class or teacher)
- Start cooking lessons or an evening class of something that you have always wanted to do/learn (how about how to use your digital camera to get the best from it)
- Start using your oven instead of the microwave and cook for friends once a month
- Give your time to a local charitable project
- Join a choir if you like singing in the shower
- If you are a “Strictly” fan – then go to dance classes
- Want to be one of those runners in slinky lycra – download “a learn to run” app, get good trainers and a training buddy and have a go – one minute soon becomes five, five soon becomes 15 and then who knows, a 5 km charity run by the summer
- Sign up to a fittness group or bootcamp club one a week
- Go rock-climbing or learn to paddle board
- Never been a good swimmer? Time to learn again
- Give yourself a creative project: gardening, writing, drawing
- Publish your creative work (post it online, put it up for sale or write a blog with your progress.)
The list is really endless and it’s all just about taking small steps to change your daily routine which probably currently includes a lot of things you’d rather give up!
A simple moto to live by in 2017:
What do you do when events don’t go to plan, and you can’t change the events?
You change the plan.
Here’s to a prosperous year of self-improvement and remember, slow and steady wins the race.