With a new year just around the corner, it’s a great time to get serious about any goals that you absolutely must achieve this year…or else.
Wait, what? Hold on…
It's been another banner year for burnout, with almost half of Americans feeling the effects. The winter weather has been brutal and there's still more to come. Mustering the motivation for New Year's resolutions after two months of holiday cheer – swapping out cozy mulled wine for a not-so-appealing kale smoothie – seems like a recipe for failure. How can anyone be expected to hit the ground running with a "new year, new me" in these conditions, just because the calendar says it's a new year?
Even so, the desire to break bad habits with a fresh new year is strong; it’s tradition. Thankfully, traditions evolve to meet the needs of modern people and the modern people need a break – to slow down and hibernate until spring.
January is the perfect time to turn our attention inward and focus on our homes and personal stuff. It's a chance to take a step back and evaluate what's truly important to us and what we want for the rest of the year. It's a time for reflection, introspection, and setting goals for the future.
Start by decluttering, both metaphorically and that literal box in the corner that’s been gathering dust for the last nine months. That way, when spring finally rolls around, you’ll feel fresh and organized, capable of tackling new goals for the new year, instead of weighed down by broken resolutions.
Get the thing that makes your life easier.
You know the one, the gadget or subscription you saw online or at a friend’s. For one reason or another, you’ve been reluctant to get it or do it, but I’m telling you: just get the thing that makes your life easier.
For years, I hesitated to get a robot vacuum because it felt like an indulgence. I already had an upright Hoover from the 1990s (if you know, you know) so spending several hundred dollars on a less powerful machine felt foolish. Let me tell you, this little guy has saved me hours of cleaning that simply would not have gotten done, even with the best intentions aside. Plus, he gets under the sofa and bed. That alone was worth the price of admission.
Subscribe to the organic meal kit, have your pet food auto-shipped, splurge on the Dyson-gadget: get the thing that will make your life easier.
Do a little bit over a long time.
Clutter is chaos and has been linked to increased anxiety and dread. The problem with clutter is that it's often made up of small, insignificant items that pile up and create a sense of chaos. The thought of tackling a huge clutter problem can be intimidating, making it easy to put off for another week. But the truth is, conquering clutter is just a matter of taking it one small step at a time.
So do a little bit. If it’s a doom pile in the spare room, a closet of mysteries, or a pile of important papers that need sorting, do it bit by bit.
For physical clutter or general household mess, commit to getting rid of 15 items per week. It's non-negotiable. Quickly evaluate each item: have you used it in the last 3-6 months? If the answer is no, donate or toss it without hesitation and move on.
To get a handle on paperwork or digital files, give yourself a realistic amount of time to work on it. Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on getting as much done as you can. Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails, sort your files, and organize your desktop with items you use most. If you still feel motivated after 15 minutes, set another timer. Take a break and walk away when you're done for the day, then pick it up again tomorrow.
By tackling the clutter bit by bit, it will be easier to make progress and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Restock all those little odds and ends.
Along with replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon dioxide monitors, restock batteries for all your devices like watches, wireless keyboards, remote controls, toys, etc. Unused batteries in their packaging can be stored from anywhere between 5 to 20 years, so replace accordingly, especially for emergency radios and flashlights.
Speaking of emergencies, it’s a good time to update your home kit and make sure everything is in working order. If you live in an area where grocery shelves go empty just ahead of extreme weather warnings, consider stocking up on shelf-stable food over the course of the year and avoid long lines and panic buying later on.
Keep a cache of lightbulbs in your preferred wattage, extension cords of different lengths, and miscellaneous items like tape, rubber bands, paper clips, and notepads on hand. It's also helpful to keep a notepad and pen nearby to jot down what needs to be restocked. By keeping these items organized and in one place, you'll be prepared and save yourself a trip to the store.
Dream a little and see what happens.
New Year's resolutions like "exercise more" and "eat healthier" are well-intentioned, but they can be a bit…vague. What's the end goal? Will these actions actually improve your life and make you happier?
Instead of focusing on specific habits, think about what you want your life to look like in a year – go big, why not? Consider how you want to feel, the type of people you want to be around, and how you want to spend your days. Write it down - it’s been proven to help. Remember, nothing is set in stone. This is a time for reflection, experimentation, and dreaming.
A healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and regular movement can certainly play a role in creating a fulfilling life, but it's not the only factor.
Don't be afraid to dream big and see what happens.