Let’s talk about new year resolutions. I’m not a personal fan of them because I pretty much do what I want when I want regardless of the time of year, but I know a lot of people are highly motivated by the thought of starting over with the new year, and to that, I say ROCK ON. Do what you need to do to get that boost! But more to the point: Did you know it’s a lot easier to START new habits that to stop old ones? I know we all want to make all the efforts to stop bad habits, but what if — bear with me — what if, this year, just for a change of pace, we stopped stressing so much over the guilt of not being able to stop those bad things, and instead focused on creating some happy and/or healthy NEW habits instead?
There are lots of “good for your soul” things you can do!
Read an extra 20-30 minutes each night.
Or DON’T. Put the kids to bed and enjoy that guilty pleasure trash tv show you’ve been wanting to start but didn’t want to admit to. Your entertainment is for your pleasure, not other people’s.
Pop an audio book or podcast on, instead of morning radio on your drive to work.
Or DON’T. Make a new “let’s pump this shit UP” playlist to put on to start your day — and rock that shit out ALL the way through morning traffic.
Get up 15 minutes earlier.
Or don’t. Lay your (everyone’s) clothes out the night before and get all your toiletries in order, so that walking out the door is smoother. Delegate some of your morning chores and put your foot down. One of the kids can feed the dog and your partner can tie their shoes while you put the breakfast dishes away. Starting the day rushed and stressed is bullshit, so whatever you need to do to mitigate that is a good thing. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Don’t murder me, but what about buying decaf coffee and mixing it half-and-half with your regular coffee, to wean off that just a bit. Or don’t. (I had to do that when my blood pressure starting going nuts, because I can’t give up my coffee, but plain decaf wasn’t working for me.)
Make an automatic $5 or $10 a month contribution to the candidate or organization of your choice.
Or don’t. You don’t have to be made of money to feel like you are making an impact. Sometimes it’s less about the exact amount of your donation, but knowing that you’re doing your civic duty. (Yes, it sucks that money is what runs the world. Yes, let’s get money the f out of politics. We still can’t beat war chests of cash with the equivalent of thoughts and prayers. (Pick a candidate– national or local! Donate to the ACLU, or support independent non-commercial journalism like our friends at DAME Magazine.)
Pack your lunch and throw some fun fruits and nuts and veggies in there to munch on during the day.
Or don’t. Make a standing lunch date appointment at least one day a week with someone you genuinely enjoy spending a few minutes with. A co-worker, a loved one, a neighbor, a old college friend. If you don’t work outside the home, STILL DO THIS. Get the fuck out of your house and get some face to face time in with someone who makes you happy. Or have them over for tea, or dinner, or game night, or whatever. You need someone in your life to interact with face to face that is not your partner or your kids. And if that person is someone you don’t have to put on a bra for, so much the better.
Conversely, you can consciously decide that you are going to stop feeling guilty for saying no.
If you don’t want to go, don’t fucking go. You are a grown ass adult. You don’t need to make excuses or come up with little white lies to get out of doing shit. “Hey, I don’t think we’re going to make it. Love you. Raincheck.” Easy peasy. Don’t let people guilt you into making up reasons. “I don’t want to” or “I don’t feel like it” is a PERFECTLY VALID REASON.
Remember, whether you decide to start a new habit in the new year is totally up to you. That old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is bullshit. (Have you ever seen an old dog smell a Slim Jim? Yeah. That old dog will learn what it takes to get that sweet sweet convenience store meat.) Focus on small changes, and the long haul, and the fact that you get to make changes. No one is forcing you. Think about adding something new rather than taking away something old. You deserve something new. Or to keep on keeping on, just the way you are. Your call.