Perhaps you’ve written out a long list of new year’s resolutions, and you’ve vowed that this year will finally be the year that you make those changes you’ve been promising yourself for a long time.
But rather than sticking to resolutions, I invite you to think about a theme for the year.
Maybe you want to be more proactive. Or perhaps you want to make your husband (or wife, or boyfriend or girlfriend) more of a priority.
Hell, maybe the theme is you -– as in, putting yourself first for once. #treatyoself to a pedicure every now and then because you deserve it.
In 2014, with everything that I do, I’m actively choosing to be mindful.
That’s my theme. Mindfulness.
How is this not a resolution? Because there’s no timeline for it. It’s not necessarily a life overhaul, but rather what I’m hoping will eventually become a permanent lifestyle change.
If I don’t so well with my mindfulness in one moment, that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure; it simply means I’ve slipped up. It’s not black and white. There’s no all-or-nothing thinking here.
Rather, this is a long-term process that I’m committing to. Because I know that I will end up a happier, more positive person, and that will consequently affect those around me.
More specifically, I’m choosing to be mindful with multiple aspects of my life.
With my fitness. I never let myself feel any guilt when I miss a training session for any reason. If there’s a pressing issue that needs to be addressed immediately, I’m okay with skipping the gym for the day so long as I don’t make a habit of it. With that said, I’ll make it a point to get in a sweat session three times per week at the bare minimum. On other days, I’ll go out for multiple brisk walks just to get my body moving. As well, I’m always paying attention to how a movement is making me feel. I’m never one to chase a specific number simply for the sake of getting another PR; after all, progress is not linear. If something feels bad, I stop. If I feel weak one day, I’m okay with that.
What’s important is that I’m never “grinding it out”. I’m not a fan of that; it leads to burnout, to despising the gym, to dreading training sessions.
If there ever comes a time in my life when I decide that I want to commit to another bikini prep, then that’ll be when I make my training more of an obligation and a higher priority. But now’s not the time for that.
Plus, I know that at the end of the day, as long as I keep my nutrition in check, I’ll be okay.
With my eating. For the past two months, I’ve been practicing intuitive eating – no macro counting, no thinking about how much protein I’m consuming, no wondering if having that bite of cheesecake will put me over my calorie allotment for the day. None of that. It started out more as a convenience issue; there came a time when I decided that I was going to make my business my #1 priority and I therefore didn’t want to channel any extra energies into my own macros. It then evolved into an experiment of sorts to see how I would fare without my handy macro-counting app to guide my food choices and portions for the first time in years.
Here’s how it went down: I didn’t overeat. I didn’t binge once. I drank wine more times than I can count. I ate when I was hungry – which meant skipping breakfast almost daily – and put the fork down when my fullness level was at about a 6 out of 10.
What ended up happening, ultimately, is that I found myself undereating (by a lot), undershooting my protein intake, and oftentimes flat-out forgetting to eat.
Not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, because I learned a lot about my current eating habits. For one, I never let cravings get the best of me. If I want some gummy bears, I’ll afford myself a handful. I never tell myself no to anything – and that has allowed me to enjoy any and all foods, and consequently prevented any urges to binge. This is huge for me, given my disordered background.
I also learned that my appetite is not always the best indication of what my body needs. I need to be more mindful of how much protein I’m getting in each meal (ie. am I consuming enough?), and I definitely need to make it a point to actually eat in the first place. I’ve found myself so easily distracted by other tasks (writing, reading, etc.) that I’ll be just about to head to bed when I realize that I hadn’t eaten since 1p.m.
More on this in a later post.
With my work/life balance. I have a pretty lousy track record of seeking balance between my professional and personal life. My type-A personality has gotten me into all sorts of trouble – mental burnout multiple times in high school and college, a pretty serious bout of depression for believing that I’d never be good enough, neglecting my mental health and happiness for the sake of work. At 24 years old, I think it’s about time I change that.
After 7p.m. every night, I stop work. Whatever I didn’t get done, I’ll finish up tomorrow. No more staying up until 1a.m. in an attempt to meet a self-imposed deadline to finish an article. No more “just one more thing and I’m done.” I turn my laptop off and open a book to read or tidy up my home in preparation for the next day.
Sundays are my personal days. I go to church, prepare for the week ahead, and allow myself to fully relax. That means if I want to get in some extra sleep, I have no qualms about taking a long nap in the middle of the day. If I want to lose myself in a Netflix marathon, then so be it. The point is, I do absolutely whatever I want to do – so long as it’s not work. That means no e-mail, no client programming, no writing whatsoever.
I’m also carving out a good bit of time for my friends. Because the truth is, unless you invest in the friendships you have, they’re not going to last forever. In the same way that I make time daily for my boyfriend, I’m always making plans with others for a quick bite or for a Friday night dinner session (with copious amounts of wine, naturally).
After all, the happier I am with my social life, the more productive I can be with my professional life.
It’s about time I take care of my mental health.
With what I say and how it affects others. Words. They can really, really hurt. And oftentimes, blurting something out in the heat of the moment can come back to bite you later on.
I’m making it a point now to be extra mindful of the words that come out of my mouth. In the past, I’ve been careless with what I’ve said, only to sorely regret it mere moments later.
[Tweet “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?”]
If I have nothing nice to say, I’m okay with silence.
With other people. It’s not my place to judge others and peg them into a specific hole. I don’t know everything about them – and until I do, who am I to look down on them?
Sure, maybe something someone said or did irked me. But does griping about it and calling them names really help anyone? If I can talk it out in a calm, productive manner without pointing fingers or instigating a fight, I will grow as a person.
I don’t believe in seeking retaliation. Tit for tat is immature and does nothing productive; in fact, it makes you the smaller person.
And you know what? If you choose to see only the negatives in people, you’ll become blind to the good things about them. And I can promise you that you can always, always find something positive and inspiring about someone else.
I’m choosing to actively seek out the best in others.
Whatever theme you settle on will be the word that rings in the back of your mind for remainder of the year. It’ll be what you practice, day in and day out, at every moment.
At the end of 2014, I want you to be able to say to yourself that yes, you are better off on December 31st than you were on January 1st because of the one theme that you carried with you at all times.
Are you ready?