The longest month of the year is coming to its inevitable end and I, for one, am thankful. January is the sort of month that greatly lacks luster in my opinion. If January were a person, it’d be the old curmudgeonly man on the subway who refuses to move out of the way of the open doors so that you’re stuck riding uptown when you only meant to get off at Canal. January does not like you and January doesn’t care how that makes you feel. No offense, but I’m kind of owning this January. Although I may not have transformed into the perfect glow-skinned goddess who makes her own yogurt (a real thing I learned about from this Cut interview) and starts every morning with yoga, I now do yoga sometimes and my skincare routine most of the time—which is an absolute win in my book.
January wasn’t always looking as bright as it is right now, however. I went through a rough spot about two weeks in, during which time I brought to the attention of my therapist that I was feeling absolutely o v e r w h e l m e d with my decision to become a completely new person in the new year. Thankfully, she countered with the most obvious advice of all—why do you have to do it all at once? (Sometimes the best answer is the most obvious one, which is why my insurance company pays her hundreds of dollars each week). With this sentiment in mind, I turned a corner with my resolutions (which I prefer to refer to as “intentions” because there’s something inherently hopeful about speaking on what you intend to do) and have since been absolutely transformed. Here’s how I’m staying on track to become the glow-skinned goddess I always knew I could be.
Break It Up
I’m reiterating this one because I think it’s just that good. As someone who can easily become immobile when confronted with a daunting list of to-dos, breaking tasks down into smaller parts and even discarding the low-priority ones has been a lifesaver for me. I ended December 31 with bold aspirations of accomplishing seven(!) different self-care tasks in the morning including meditation, reading, yoga, and breakfast before leaving my apartment. To complete this exhaustive list would require waking up more than an hour earlier than my previous wake-up time and I found myself completely swearing off all of it instead.
After coming to the realization that I don’t have to institute an entirely new morning routine immediately, things are going much better. Now I start my day an hour earlier than I did previously, which gives me a sacred time to get my mind prepared for the day. I’ve also found that it’s helpful to combine items that can be multitasked. For example, I’ll make breakfast and then eat it while I use my light therapy lamp so that I’m knocking out two things simultaneously. Now that I’m getting used to the earlier wake-up I’ve also found myself slowly incorporating some of the other parts of my routine that I initially put on the back burner, like taking the time to style my hair. It’s hard to implement a new routine overnight but breaking it down has eased a lot of the pressure for me and that’s its own kind of self-care.
Write Everything Down
I have a tendency to accumulate a lot of thoughts throughout the course of the day, between scheduling events, adding tasks to my to-do list, and organizing my habits, there can be dozens of things bouncing around upstairs. I’ve found that I have a lot of success getting stuff done when I take the time to translate my thoughts from bubbles to physical entities, whether in the form of lists on my phone or notes in a bullet journal. I like to use a combination of organization techniques to keep me on track. For starters, I love Google Calendar’s function for creating multiple calendars based on the type of event (color coding for the win!). I have one for doctor /therapy appointments, another for fitness classes, and even one for publishing blog posts. Being able to take a quick glance and know what’s coming up that day helps me feel in control and on top of my schedule.
A recent find that is changing the game for me is the app HabitHub (worth the $2.99 premium version on the App Store). The app allows you to schedule specific times for your routines, notifies you at that time, and keeps track of your streaks. One of my intentions for 2020 is to take time to journal at the end of each day and it’s definitely been easier for me to stick with that when I’m able to set aside a time each day to make it happen.
Go Easy on Yourself
This is perhaps the most important tip of all: allow forgiveness for yourself when you fall short. Implementing intentions can be hard, it pushes us to go beyond our normal in order to create a new version of ourselves. Failing is inevitable but allowing ourselves the space to fail, forgive, and make changes moving forward is how we’re able to actually make our intentions a reality. I think that going into a new year or cycle with the reality and acceptance that failures will happen is necessary in order to actually be successful in our implementation. We’re only human and only capable of striving for our best. It’s okay if there are hiccups along the way, it’s all part of the process.
As we enter February, now is the perfect time to reevaluate where you’re at—are you happy with the intentions you set a month ago? What can you change in the coming weeks to help you feel like you’re staying true to them? These are the things that have helped me, but you’ve got to find the ones that are right for you!