New Year, New You: Getting back on track after 2020

Dominique Dragon |

Not many of us will be sad to have 2020 behind us, and the good news is: It won't take much to make this year better than the last! The bad news? Many of us have abandoned our exercise routines, social engagements, and healthy habits just to cope with living through a global pandemic. As we launch into a new, and hopefully better year, here are 10 things you can do to get back on track.

  1. Reflect: To start this year off right, take some time to reflect on the one you've just completed. What brought you joy? What took up too much of your time? What did you accomplish, and where did you fall short? There are many ways to do a year-end inventory, but the important thing is to set aside some time to put it all on paper and get the big picture.
  2. Start a tiny habit: If you've made a New Year's Resolution, it may be tempting to go all out and commit to doing it full force. But science shows that that approach is more likely to fail. According to behavior scientist BJ Fogg, the way to create a new habit is to start small: super small, smaller than you think. If you can lock in the "cue-routine-reward" habit loop with just a tiny behavior, like doing a single push-up every day (seriously!) you are much more likely to continue the habit and be able to expand on it in the long term.
  3. Write a gratitude list: Research shows that practicing gratitude can make you happier and more resilient, and you don't have to feel grateful to do it. Jot down a list of things you are grateful for (be specific!) on a daily or weekly basis.
  4. Engineer your environment: When it comes to creating a new habit or changing your behavior, willpower is totally overrated. Set yourself up for success by removing barriers to your goal, and implementing physical cues and reminders (like writing a sticky note, or putting your shoes by the door) that will remind and encourage you to practice the new behavior.
  5. Focus on others: Helping others makes us feel good and helps us to take the focus off of our own troubles. Often, it gives us the inspiration or motivation to keep working on the things that challenge us most. Whether you have a little or a lot to give, make a commitment to giving back in some way in the New Year.
  6. Allow self-compassion: You won't make it very far with a New Year's Resolution inspired by self-loathing. Whether it's through action or self-talk, start treating yourself with a little more kindness this year.
  7. Find your tribe: Whether you're trying to start a meditation or exercise habit, quit using alcohol, or complete a creative project, finding a way to get support and become accountable to others can be a huge benefit. Join an online challenge, attend a support meeting, or find a mentor to make it much more likely you will reach your goals.
  8. Learn to say no: Saying yes to the relationships and activities you want in your life often depends on learning to say no to other, less worthy, pursuits. If you struggle to do this, there are many books, programs, and support groups out there that can help, it will be worth it.
  9. Look for joy: Even on the worst day, there are moments of beauty and joy. Seek out those moments and when you recognize them, try to take a minute to fully experience them.
  10. Practice acceptance: If you're alive, you're guaranteed to grow and change each year. But how many of us will become our most perfect, ideal selves? Probably zero. As you go through this year, celebrate your progress but when you fall short, don't let it define you.

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