While I am not a believer of new year’s resolutions I do feel the new year offers us an opportunity to reflect on our successes and misses of the previous year and set intentions for the upcoming year. To often we set grandiose goals that are impossible to achieve, only to feel like a failure and return to old behaviours that push us further away from our best selves.
What about setting realistic expectations that will encourage us to succeed and motivate us in a positive direction? Making small changes everyday for the entire year will have a greater impact than big changes that last for only a few weeks. It might not seem like much at the time but I guarantee if you stay consistent over the long haul you will be shocked at what you can achieve.
Here are a few of my ideas that may help you set your own intentions for 2014:
1) Eat more fruits and veggies. I am not talking about a radical shift to vegan or raw food eating, I am simply suggesting that you add more of these foods to your current diet. Consider blueberries with your morning cereal, an apple mid-morning, a side of carrots with your lunch and a mixed green salad with your dinner. A few weeks before my grandfather passed away at the age of 92 I asked him what his secret to longevity was and without pause he replied, “your grandmother always served us two vegetables with every dinner”. Wisdom I think worth pursuing.
2) Drink more water. I know you have heard this one over and over again but many of us are not following this basic recommendation. Whatever your telling yourself, “I don’t like the taste of water”, “I don’t have time to go to the bathroom”, “I forget to drink my water”…change your story. This is so basic and so easy. Fill a 1L container (a glass mason jar is perfect) twice per day and drink it. Just do it!
3) Move. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on gym memberships, sports equipment or fitness machines to get active. Walk, hike, ski, skate, swim, stretch, dance, bike…move your body for at least 20 minutes every day and amazing things will happen. This is the best medicine to help with moods, energy, sleep, blood pressure, digestive function, immune health etc. There are so many benefits how can you not be doing this?
4) Breathe. This is much harder than it sounds and one that most of us struggle with. If you have space in your life for yoga and/or meditation…wonderful. If not, find moments in the every day like brushing your teeth, having a shower, cutting your veggies etc. and use these as reminders to breathe. Inhale…1-2-3-4, Exhale….1-2-3-4.
5) Give. I love the “pay it forward” that is happening all around the world from a coffee to a car people are recognizing the benefits of giving to others without expectation for return. Join the movement. You can’t begin to believe how good you will feel when you give of yourself even if just a smile, a listening ear, a hug or something more material like a sandwich to someone less fortunate or winter jacket that you no longer wear.
Take some time to reflect on what is important to you and how you want to live in 2014. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you implement these changes gradually into your life.