The new year is upon us, and that gives us a chance to start afresh (maybe even reset?). Now is a chance to make the most of it. What changes would you like to make in your life this year? Not that you need a new year to start making changes — you can start any time. What are some things you would like to start doing, things you’d like to stop doing, and things you’d like to continue doing?
I am always keeping track of things I would like to work on. The list is endless, but I try to pick one thing from this list for a month to make it a life-long habit/change. Working on one habit/change per month means you bring all your focus and attention to making the change in that one area of your life for 30 days while maintaining the others at the current standard. This is the difference between making the change possible versus impossible. Trying to work on more than a couple of habits/changes at any one time is unsustainable for a few days, let alone a month or longer.
Here is how to go about it. Ask yourself this question: what is the one thing you could work on during the month in your personal and work areas that would make a great impact on your life?
Here are the 12 things (in no particular order) you may want to work on this year — one for each month. You can always make your own list. The only criteria in selecting things is you should pick ones for which you want to enact permanent change.
- be grateful
- establish a morning routine
- exercise daily
- read for an hour
- keep your promises
- write to reflect
- be present
- plan your week
- review your week
- do only one thing at a time
- slow down
- be proactive
Start with the one that will have the most impact in your life right now (but also keep the future in mind). For instance, you could start with a morning routine and doing that consistently over a month. Or, if you’re a business owner, it could be spending at least an hour marketing your services during the week. Try not to pick more than a couple of these for a month (one personal and/or one work-related) so you can give your full focus and attention to making it happen.
The other thing would be to start small and make it easy for yourself to accomplish the habit. For example, if you haven’t exercised much in the recent past, expecting yourself to go to the gym for 30 minutes five days a week might be a bit much at the beginning. Why not exercise for only 5 minutes a day to start with? The challenge in the beginning is showing up. Once you are consistently showing up, then you can slowly improve the workout duration, intensity, etc.
Whatever habit/change you are working on in a given month, you need to keep track of it in some kind of spreadsheet or log. Unless you keep track of your progress, how will you know how far you’ve come? I use a year-long calendar log to keep track of the 12 changes I would like to make in my life, and for every day I am able to work on the habit, I cross out the date. Of course, this may not work for everyone, as you may need additional columns in your spreadsheet to keep track of your progress when simply crossing off a date in your calendar log won’t do.
Imagine yourself at the end of this year and realizing how proud you are of making these 12 changes to your life (possibly for good). Wouldn’t that be amazing? If that isn’t a year well spent, I don’t know what is. Making lasting change happens slowly, and working on one habit/change at a time and giving yourself 30 days to make the change will undoubtedly make a positive difference in your life in the long term.