- Resolutions often fail. Making mindful change is often successful.
- Simplify your life in as many areas and ways as you can.
- The greatest success you can achieve is only possible when you make yourself top priority in your own life.
We come to the end of another year. As with every year, it seems, we begin the new year full of hope for peace, health, happiness, and prosperity. Sometimes the new year fulfills its promise; it’s indeed, better than the year before it. And yet, sometimes we have no idea about the magnitude of events to come and their effect on us, as was the case with 2020. But, thinking optimistically, I’d like to believe that 2020 meant clear vision as in 20/20 sight. Perhaps, we were meant to see the good, bad, and ugly of life in its full force so that we could actually do something about it. The year 2020 laid bare many things we, perhaps, just didn’t want to see before. I think 2021 was somewhat better. We figured some things out and some not, that still remains to be dealt with.
What will 2022 hold for you? Well, we personally can’t control big global concerns and issues but we can control, to a great degree, what happens to us personally. Beyond some difficult and challenging life events, we can do a lot for ourselves in our everyday lives. It’s not so much about making New Year’s resolutions we’re apt not to keep. It’s about having an overview and taking an inventory of how we live our lives. Satisfied, great. Not so satisfied, what can we do to make it better.
Here are just some suggestions for improving the quality of your life. There may be many more things you can focus on, many more things you may wish to change so consider these beginning questions you may ask yourself and discussions you may want to have with yourself.
Downshift your life. This means to streamline your life to “upshift” the overall quality of your life. First, consider your highest priorities, those things you absolutely can’t live without. What’s left over are those things you can scrutinize, deciding to keep them in your life or not.
Consider these points: What do you value most in your life? Use these to structure the life you are trying to create. What commitments are most important to you? How can you streamline your commitments to spend as much time as you can on the things most important to you? Sometimes we spread ourselves much too thin and feel overwhelmed about all of our commitments.
Take care of yourself. Easier said than done. But I’ve seen far too many people living their lives in an unhealthy way. There’s plenty written daily about diet, exercise, conquering addictions, etc. Take it or leave it. Do something about it or not. I’ve also seen far too many young people who look like they’re living a healthy lifestyle yet, are seriously ill and even dying. I guess the bottom line is to become an informed consumer about your body and health. As a physician, I advocate for taking control with the help of professionals so that you understand your risks both from lifestyle choices as well as genetics. It’s not just about making a resolution to eat better and exercise more, but to learn as much about yourself as possible and then create a healthy lifestyle plan to help you live healthier longer.
Mind your mental health. There is so much mental stimulation all around us all day long—all of the devices we’re plugged into. Then the media—news all day long, breaking news, different points of view. Then social media telling us who we are. On top of that, pandemic and isolation causing anxiety, depression, and a sense of languishing not living.
In addition, there’s so much division in our country. By now, most of us have had a bout or two, or three, with someone whose views are very different from our own. That would be fine if it stayed there. But these discussions often grow heated, and worse. Better to avoid conflict when you know it’s going to come. Just make a promise to yourself to avoid getting into it. In all probability, you will not be able to change someone’s deep-rooted belief. Stay cordial and pleasant if you can. Be firm with those who try to pull you in and engage in a negative, demeaning way.
Minimize the news. Assess how much time you spend daily with TV, radio, internet, newspapers, and magazines. Decrease your consumption to receive basic information from a source you feel comfortable with, once a day if possible. The news is repetitive and redundant. The news will be different tomorrow. Don’t waste your valuable time when you can be doing something else that’s meaningful.
Learn something new. There’s nothing like getting involved in a new and different pursuit to get you excited. Learning new information or a new skill is very satisfying, empowering, and stimulating. Having a hobby or interest can be something to look forward to and can be something that relaxes you, calms you down, and gives you pleasure.
From a practical point of view, learning something new can open up another avenue that you can pursue as a way of making a living if you have to. Sometimes, our primary career or job ends and we are left to scramble. If you have other skills you can pursue another job for a period of time to make ends meet. Sometimes an interest or hobby can morph into a life’s work.
Give back. Beyond our own lives, there are those who can use our help. Nothing is too small to do. Whether it’s time spent, money donated, or goods produced for the sake of others everything helps and is a valuable gift. Giving to others also helps us feel good about ourselves. Also, words matter deeply. The things we say to those around us daily make an enormous impression. Thanking someone, complimenting someone, smiling at someone connect us and lift us up.
Be present for yourself. Evaluate how much time you regularly make for yourself. You are most important in your own life. People often say, “I don’t have the time,” their life is so full of commitments and things to do that they genuinely don’t have time for themselves. Some of that has to go. Spend the time necessary to become more mindful about the way you’re living, become consciously aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
If something significant is not working for you, now is the time to start thinking about what you can do to change that. Even if you can’t make significant changes right now, you can begin to make small changes toward your goal.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, thoughtful, meaningful, and peaceful New Year.