Break out the confetti and noisemakers, it’s almost time for a New Year!
And whether you’re at a glitzy gathering, celebrating with loved ones, or curled up under a blanket watching the ball drop in Times Square, there’s no denying the excitement that builds on New Year’s Eve.
Unfortunately, New Year’s Eve parties aren’t just known for the countdown adrenaline. They’re also known for rich foods, flowing champagne, and the inevitable regret when you wake up exhausted the next morning.
Are you ready to turn that around this year? Want to have an “I’ve got this” attitude and boundless energy as soon as the clock strikes? Want to know how to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a way that’s actually healthy for you?
If you’re nodding your head yes, then we have just what you need. Our guide for healthy ways to start the year will have you feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on 2022!
Be Proud of the Previous Year
Believe it or not, one of the best and most uplifting ways to celebrate New Years is to look back at the previous year. Because life can be tough, and we’re all doing the best that we can. So before you start setting goals and making resolutions, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for all you accomplished the previous year.
Write down one thing you’re proud of for each month. It doesn’t even have to be anything major. Maybe you’re proud of sticking to your Christmas budget; if so, kudos to you and write it down! Or maybe you were just a good friend to someone who needed it; that’s worth writing down, too.
Once you start writing down your accomplishments, you’ll see just how awesome your previous year was. And going over your wins (big and small) will give you a sense of pride and confidence. Look at all the great things you did!
Pick a Word
Choosing one word to define your year can be an inspiring and motivating alternative to traditional resolutions.
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to determine your priorities. Whether you want to work on one specific area of your life or several, deciding on a single overarching theme can be a powerful tool for focusing your energies.
Think about what you want your year to look and feel like and what your intentions are for the different areas of your life. Then pick a word that ties it all together, and let that be your word for the year.
- If your word is “health,” for example, you can consistently focus on actions that align with that intention. Maybe one day it means walking instead of driving, and the next day it means choosing a healthier meal option or making time to meditate. It can also remind you to stay on track with your spending (financial health).
- If you tend to get diverted easily, maybe you can choose a word such as “discipline” or “intentional” to encourage you to stay on task. Your word is your reminder that you are in control of your actions and thoughts.
Or how about choosing a word that excites you? For example, a word such as “adventure” or “yes” or “daring” will encourage you to do things that are outside of your comfort zone. This can be for anything from choosing a new restaurant to going on your first solo vacation to finally applying for your dream job.
Once you’ve decided on your word of the year, post it where you can see it and repeat it often: a post-it on the bathroom mirror, the lock screen on your phone, the cover of your daily planner.
Whenever you feel like you’re getting distracted from your goals, you can go back to your word to refocus your energies.
“I want to exercise more.”
That’s one of the most common goals for the New Year. But when you set such a general target, it’s hard to measure if you’re really sticking to it. After all, if you don’t really exercise much, then even 1-2 workouts a week count as “more.”
How can you make that goal work better for you? Set a more defined goal that will hold you accountable: “I will exercise for 30 minutes, 3 times per week.” Bam! Now you have a set plan to stick to.
Even if you have a perfectly crafted goal, achievement isn’t necessarily guaranteed. Some goals are just too vague and difficult to track. You might think you’re living up to them, only to find out at the end of the year that you veered off course.
That’s where S.M.A.R.T. goals come in. This is a particularly effective strategy to help you meet your goals by making them:
Some examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals include:
- Walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Volunteering 5 hours per month for your favorite cause
- Attending 1 networking function per month
- Spending 3 hours per week developing a new hobby or skill, such as a foreign language
Buy a New Planner
Have you ever toyed with the idea of buying yourself a Christmas present? You can treat yourself to something that you can use all year and that will help you become a true goal-getter: a planner.
Yes, a planner.
Kind of like a schoolkid with brand-new notebooks to fill, there’s something about a fresh, unused planner that just begs to be written in!
Planners come in all shapes and sizes. Do you want one that’s going to sit on your desk, or something you can carry with you? Maybe you want a digital version that you can store on your phone for easy access.
Once you have your planner, make sure you schedule in time for your goals. These appointments with yourself will keep you right on track.
Find the Resolution Solution
“Fresh year, fresh start.”
And what better way to celebrate new beginnings than by resolving to become the best version of yourself, whatever that may look like?
For most people, New Year’s Eve wipes the slate clean, making January 1st the ideal time to adopt new, healthy habits with their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, research shows that most resolutions do focus on ways to improve physical and mental wellbeing.
Last, year, the top resolutions were:
- Exercise more (44%)
- Eat healthier (42%)
- Spend more time with friends and family members (34%)
- Lose weight (31%)
Other common health-related resolutions included quitting smoking (19%) and drinking less alcohol (15%).
Unfortunately, not all resolutions are kept. The statistics are actually rather grim. Only 25% of people who make resolutions are still sticking to them after 30 days. And only 8% accomplish them.
Clearly, resolutions—undeniably part of our improvement-minded society—are a challenge. So what’s the best way to stick to them? It comes down to your habits!
Developing New Habits
Habits are repeated behaviors or rituals that you do automatically. That’s what makes them different from behaviors.
Behaviors can still be repeated actions or routines, but they demand more focus, intention, and awareness. For example, when you’re angry, you may find yourself yelling at someone. But if you yell every time you’re angry, then it’s become a habit.
For resolutions to succeed, you need to make them part of your lifestyle. Your object, then, is to develop new, healthier habits that will help you keep your resolutions without having to give them much thought.
Going for a walk every evening will start off as a behavior. You make the choice to put on your sneakers and leave your comfy couch. You might even spend some time debating it before you force yourself out of the house. But once it becomes a habit, you won’t even have to think about it. You’ll look at the time, decide you’re ready for a walk, and head out the door without thinking of reasons why you could skip today’s walk.
Understand the Habit Loop
It turns out that habits undergo three processes called the habit loop:
- Trigger or cue
- Response or routine
First, you need to have a trigger or cue, which will stimulate you to initiate a behavior or a habit. It can be as simple as seeing the numbers you don’t like when you step on your weighing scale.
A cue or trigger is useless unless you form a craving. Here, other factors such as emotions come into play.
After stepping on the scale and knowing you gained significant weight, you may feel a wide range of emotions. You may start feeling angry about it and then determined to act on it.
The second process is routine or response. This is where your habit comes in, which, in this case, can mean exercising or eating a healthy diet.
Lastly, there’s the reward, which is the ultimate end goal of the habit. If exercising and eating healthy become good habits for you, then you may experience a better quality of life.
How Long Does a New Habit Take to Form?
Research shows that a new habit takes an average of 66 days to form. So all those people who quit their resolutions in less than a month? They never gave it a chance, quitting before their new habits formed.
So even if you’re getting frustrated or discouraged, try to stick it out. Your habits are forming and it will get easier!
Tips for Good Habit Success
Ready to start the good habits that will make your resolution successful? Here are some tips to help you along.
1. Take a Vacation
Vacationing to break bad habits? Yes!
This is the point of Charles Duhigg in his book “The Power of Habit.” According to him, habits form due to exposure to familiar cues or triggers, as well as rewards. When you vacation, you remove the familiar and change these triggers and rewards.
2. Start in the Morning
To start ticking off your good habits list, start making changes in the morning. There are two reasons for this.
- One, your willpower is at its highest at the beginning of the day. You feel fresh, your mind is clear, and your focus is more intense.
- Second, you are more likely to keep up with the other good habits once you’ve started with the first one. Making your bed can lead you to make a healthy breakfast after.
3. Pick Good Habits to Have
Forming new habits takes some effort. You’re less likely to succeed if you’re also trying to change old or bad habits simultaneously.
To allow these to stick, pick good habits to start. Make a list and then choose which ones will create the biggest impact on your health goals.
Take, for example, your desire to wake up feeling less exhausted. You can form new sleep habits, such as going to bed at least 30 minutes earlier than you’re used to.
4. Be Consistent Early in the Process
Consistency is the key to forming habits, and your level of consistency should be at its highest in the early days.
Remember, the first few days or weeks will be the most difficult. These will be the times when you’re trying to deviate from old or bad habits.
Over time, the resistance to change gradually subsides until your routines or behaviors become more automatic for you.
Many people will celebrate the New Year recovering from the big bash the night before. And sure, you can start the New Year with a “bang” from a champagne cork, too. But you could also start it with the bang of a healthy new lifestyle!
One of the best ways to celebrate and honor the beginning of the New Year is by celebrating and honoring your wellbeing. And that means living in a way that makes you feel proud, confident, and happy with yourself.
Making changes to your lifestyle isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Themes, goals, and resolutions can all play a role in your success.
You can do it. Have faith in yourself, and have a Happy New Year!
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