New Year's Goals

In my experience many people are usually pretty firmly for or against New Year’s Resolutions. I like them, but I recognize how by mid-February it’s time for a check in. Sometimes these goals need some editing. Either they are worth keeping or they need to change or be done away with. So here are some of my goals that I’m struggling with working on.

One thing that stuck with me when I read a book about intuitive eating is when the author explained that what matters is the average of your actions over time. That is, if you eat healthy most of the time, that’s great. If you indulge sometimes, that’s fine too. Extremes aren’t healthy in most cases and it’s okay to give yourself some leeway. Another author described how when making goals it’s important to share them and have someone to help hold you accountable. This is part of the reason I’m sharing these goals. This same author also described how setbacks are absolutely normal. It’s how we respond to these setbacks that define our level of success. Some people have a hard time with setbacks and are hard on themselves and since they’re uncomfortable with these feelings and with change, they give up. Not that I have any experience with that or anything. When a baby first learns to walk, they take a step or two and then fall down. If you are an adult watching them, you’re elated! We would never become angry with a baby for falling down, we celebrate the success of the steps they took. The next time they take a few more steps and a few more after that. Before you know it, that little guy is running around and getting into things. We need to be equally gentle with ourselves and every time there is a setback, celebrate our successes and continue on. I usually need to remind myself of this. Onto my goals.

My first goal is to eat more unprocessed and chemical-free food. Ideally organic. I have also started to use more chemical-free household items such as laundry detergent, soap, and shampoo. My skin has improved since doing this, so I think it’s working. This was inspired by watching the documentary Hungry for Change which you can stream on Netflix. I’ll probably need to re-watch it to continue to motivate myself.

My second goal is to exercise at least 20 minutes three times per week. I’m making this goal realistic and achievable. This is likely peanuts to a lot of people, but according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running about 4 to 5 miles per week at an 11 or 12 minute mile pace or running 5-10 minutes per day at slow speeds relate to “markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.” (Source) I’ve also read that weight training is the “fountain of youth” and that women need to weight train at least once per week and men at least three times per week. I often feel like if it’s not cardio, then it’s not a real workout. Which is obviously a very flawed view, so I will try to incorporate more strength training.

My third goal is to practice more mindfulness. I think introverted people tend to let their minds wander because they’re often thinking more than speaking. As an introvert, I am often thinking of other things and neglecting to really focus on the task at hand. I need to practice more mindfulness in eating and probably also in conversations with people. I am guilty of occasionally being on my phone while talking to someone in my family and I need to get out of that habit. I should probably also unplug more. Less TV, internet, and phone and more books and people and exercise. I could certainly use some meditation and stretching to help with this goal. I will try to meditate at least once per week and stretch every other night before bed.

My fourth goal is to be more patient while driving. I get irrationally upset with people who pass my turn at a round about or do other irritating things while driving. We all make mistakes and we’ve probably all been the jerk at some point or another. The thing I’ve done lately is that when someone does something irritating, I just take a breath and say “namaste.” I find that this trigger word helps reinforce the idea of patience. It also reminds me that when I get upset, the only person it’s hurting is me. The person in the other car doesn’t care and probably doesn’t even know whether I’m irritated. The word namaste is a term of respect used as a greeting in hindi, and in my mind (though I know this isn’t technically correct) it’s the idea of “peace be with you” and letting that person and those feelings go. I’ve had to drive a lot more lately and this typically helps.

My fifth goal is to worry less. This is a constant goal of mine and I usually need to check in. As an anxious person, I worry a lot. I worry about some things that are rational but also some irrational things. I don’t want to let worrying hold me back, though I also recognize that some amount of worry is normal and even healthy. It means you have invested in whatever you’re worrying about and that you care. The thing that I have to remind myself is that worrying is generally a waste of energy. It accomplishes absolutely nothing. If I can turn worry into action and there are things that I can do to help with my worry, then I try to do that, but otherwise I remind myself that worrying is futile and try to move on to other thoughts or activities. Worrying can have long-term health effects, causing stress, increasing cortisol levels, and can potentially promote cardiovascular disease.