New Year’s resolutions, list of goals, bucket lists, to-do lists: the one thing they all have in common is that people often don’t believe in the completion of these lists even while they write them. They write the list because they’ve heard it’s what other people do or what they’re supposed to do. They write them because the idea of completing the list makes them happy. Yet, more often than not, those lists remain as ideas, as goals, as a list that is forgotten in some document hidden in a folder on your computer that you probably couldn’t even find if you tried.
It’s a few weeks into January, and already so many people have let go of the goals they set for themselves. That is why this year, and every year going forward, we should all start writing specific short-term ideas down. No more “I’m going to visit six countries, win the lottery, and go to the gym seven days a week.” It’s time for small stepping stone goals, where you can slowly track your progress, no matter how miniscule.
Not only is the size of these goals important, but so is the content. We spend too much time worried about prepping our summer beach bodies that we stop and forget that we have to make it through winter to get there first. Think small, think what can I do next, think what can I do tomorrow so that my week is better. Once you have a better week, it will translate into a better month, then months, and then finally a year. The best way to do that is to write down some emotional goals for yourself. They can be whatever you need them to be, whatever small amount of progress you feel ready to tackle. Here are some ideas:
1. Try One New Coping Method: Sometimes what you’ve been doing in the past is simply no longer working. Find something new, and give it a try! Maybe that is writing in a journal or a blog, going for a walk twice a week, trying out meditation for the first time, or finding an upbeat podcast to listen to on the way to work. Routines are wonderful, stable elements of our lives, but sometimes change is what our emotional health needs.
2. Go To Bed Early: A little extra sleep can go a long way. If you’re feeling run down, forget about what the rest of the world is asking of you and ask this one thing of yourself. Get some rest! It will leave you feeling more at peace for the following day and maybe even week!
3. Drink One More Glass of Water: Knowing that you are taking care of yourself can take a huge weight off of your shoulders. Drink one more glass of water and know that you thought about your health, and you did something about it, no matter how small. Maybe if you do it a couple times, it will even turn into a habit.
3. Put Your Phone Down for 30 Minutes: Having a support system is a huge, and I’m not at all trying to diminish that. However, taking time to step back, be exactly where you are, even if that means being alone, is important. Leave it behind for 30 minutes everyday, take a walk or cook some dinner. Enjoy the present, think about what went right during your day, think about what you did well. Better yet, think about nothing!
4. Compliment Someone: Is there someone in the room next to you while you’re reading this or maybe a friend or co-worker you saw earlier today who you really appreciate? Say something thoughtful to them. Something as small as “thanks for all the help today.” or “gosh, that idea you had earlier was really smart,” can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to sometimes make that person yourself, appreciating your strong qualities is important.
5. Read/Listen to The News: As important as shutting things off is, sometimes staying tuned in is vital too. Download an app that automatically sends News to your phone, or turn on the TV while you eat breakfast. Being aware of the world and being educated about your surroundings is only going to help you grow as a person, and that is immensely rewarding.
6. Take 20 Deep Breaths: Sometimes I think to myself that I don’t have time for yoga or meditation, or I don’t feel like finding a video or tutorial to follow online. Maybe it’s out of laziness, or maybe exhaustion, either way sometimes all you can find within yourself to do is breathe and that’s okay. Try to take 20 deep breaths in a row. Close your eyes and count in your mind. You will leave that time feeling better, even if only in the slightest.
Not all of these goals will turn into habits, maybe some you will only ever do once. The point is that your goals need to be able to push you and yet still be attainable. After every time you scratch one off the list, add another. This way you can make small incremental amounts of progress instead of expecting your world to alter all at once. Growth is a progress, and the sooner we all embody that the more likely we are to experience it.
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