How’s your life going a week into the new year?
Are you firing on all cylinders? Energized by your dreams of creating change in your life? Or does it feel like ages ago that you embraced a bright, shiny new year, with all its possibilities?
Perhaps we’re expecting too much from a single day. Perhaps we’re trying to do too much. Or perhaps we didn’t plan for life’s unexpected twists and turns.
But perhaps New Year’s Day is as much as state of mind as it is a date on the calendar. How could you bring a New Year’s sensibility to all of your days? Here are a few ideas.
Set yourself up for success the night before. Wrap up your tasks for the day. Note your priority actions for tomorrow. Straighten up your surroundings. Pack a delicious lunch. Set out the stuff you’ll need for tomorrow. Get a good night’s sleep.
Have a plan. Don’t put everything on your list for the day. When I do that, my eyes glaze over and I don’t know where to begin. Start with 3 to 5 priority tasks. Pick one to tackle first thing. Your most difficult one. Preferably in a 60- to 90-minute uninterrupted block of time.
Expect the unexpected. When you over schedule, there’s no slack in the day to roll with the punches. This week, for example, we (finally) had rain in Southern California. That meant traffic was heavier and more time was needed to get to the office. Plan some unplanned time to make up the difference.
Enjoy the adventure. Take in the sights and sounds of your surroundings. Look up from your smartphone. Look people in the eye, smile and say hello. Be present and make note of what’s happening from moment to moment.
Stop the doom loop. If you hear yourself spiraling into a sea of negativity, tell yourself to stop. Replace those thoughts with more positive, optimistic ones. If you feel embarrassed about a mistake you’ve made, remember that most people are thinking about themselves and won’t even notice.
Cut yourself some slack. Focus on the good in your day. Remind yourself of what you did accomplish (hopefully your top 3 – 5 priorities), rather than what you didn’t. Speaking of “priorities,” did you know when the word first entered the English language in the 14th century, it was singular? That’s right. You could only have one priority. Not multiple ones, as we have today.
Be kind to yourself — and others. Often we can get so wrapped up in our own challenges, that we fail to notice others are struggling with the same things. Or even more difficult problems than our own. It’s safe to assume that everyone we come in contact with is carrying a heavy load. Be nice to them. Smile. Offer a kind word. That goes for you, too.
Act the way you want to feel. This is my favorite of the “Secrets of Adulthood” from Gretchen Rubin and The Happiness Project. If you want to feel happy, start acting that way. If you want to feel grateful, think about your blessings. If you want to feel more positive and optimistic, start acting that way. It takes a deliberate choice and less than a minute of your time. That’s a pretty good return.
Remember that today is your new year’s day. And tomorrow. And the day after that. Make it count. Make a difference. Make it fun. Because all of our new year’s days add up to our lives. What kind of a life are you living? You don’t have to meet every last goal for yourself before you start enjoying it. Decide to make each moment special, for yourself and everyone around you.