It’s January of a new year that we all hope to be quite the opposite of 2020. As tradition lays, new year resolutions to get fit, eat right and somehow not be stressed out in a pandemic are racing through the internet. But, how intimidating does it sound trying to immediately overhaul your lifestyle and maintain it for the next 12 months? Instead, I offer a different approach: monthly resolutions. These goals will be smaller and focus on more areas than just your physical health.
Of course, you may have an overarching goal of 2021, and keep to that, but it may be easier to focus on different things each month rather than trying to lose 20 pounds, meditate more and start running all at once.
These goals will encompass physical health and mental health, let’s get started!
- Get rid of things that are no longer serving you, including toxic relationships
The first quarter of the year is the perfect time to clear out your head space and your living space. This means something different to everyone. Some of us, myself included have emotional attachments to clothing we haven’t worn in a year. It’s time to donate or sell them! For others, cutting off any toxic relationships in your life will help set the tone for the rest of your year. This could be a slow process, each week of the month trying to gradually fade a relationship that isn’t serving you. This can be easier for some of us than simply cutting off all communication at once.
- Work on exploring your personal style
Finding your own style is so important, not only so that you can be confident in what you like and what you don’t, but it also helps you get to know yourself better overall. This can mean style of clothing, interior design, hair, makeup, the list goes on. Spend this month finding inspiration in style and aesthetics that resonate with you. You can do this by making mood boards, starting a Pinterest board or simply researching different styles in whatever area of life you choose.
- Try out a new workout routine
This one is really what you want to make it. If you’re getting bored of your same old routine, or you want to step it up a little, take one month to focus on it. If you don’t love it right away, give it a week or two and push through because you may enjoy how it makes you feel in the long run. One of my favorite trainers to follow is @lexfish on Instagram. She’s based in Los Angeles but runs an online pilates hub that you can pay to join or she has a bunch of free workouts on her IGTV. On the other hand, if you’ve been burning out your body with excessive workouts, try switching out some training days for a long walk or yoga. You never know what will serve your body best until you try.
- Try out two new recipes every week
Especially this year we’ve been limited to what we can include in our daily routines so much so that life can start to feel repetitive. One thing that can help you spice up your month is trying two new recipes a week (or more!). This is an easy way to experiment with cooking, without burning yourself out. Pinterest is a fantastic hub for recipes of all kinds, from plant-based burgers to homemade tamales. If you’re more into books, purchase a cookbook to get ideas from for the month.
To make this less stressful, plan ahead. This will save you time and money, and make the process more enjoyable. You could even choose two recipes with similar main ingredients to save money if you’re cooking for one. By the end of the month you may find you enjoy cooking or at least you’ll have some new recipes you know you enjoy.
- Find a newsletter that sparks your interest
This is something I truly think needs more attention. So many platforms (like this one!) have the option to subscribe to their newsletter. You could use this as part of your morning or evening ritual. Star or flag the email when you receive it in your inbox, and read a new article every day. By the end of the month, you’ll have created a good habit and learned a ton. Some of my favorites are Goop for health and wellness, Vogue for fashion and beauty and The New York Times for all things politics and business.
- Reach out to friends or family you haven't talked to in a while
Especially with all of the restrictions we’ve faced in the past year, it’s easy to lose touch with some of your friends. Whether it’s an old friend from high school or maybe someone you used to only see at social events, dedicate a month to checking in on those people. You may not realize it, but this can brighten someone's day and start a positive chain reaction.
You can give yourself a number, say two people a week. This way it’s not overwhelming and you can dedicate a decent amount of time to have a genuine conversation.
- Watch the sunset as often as you can
I suggest saving this one for some of the warmer months when the sunset is later and it’s a little nicer outside. Watching the sunset is something that, when you do it you enjoy the experience, but you don’t schedule it into your routine. Let’s change that. Like some of the other resolutions, this one may be helpful to plan ahead. If you know you have the time on some days and not others that's fine, set an hour or so aside to enjoy nature's gift when you can.
You could bring a book, journal, painting supplies, etc. to switch it up. By the end of the month you may find this is your new favorite way of decompressing and continue the ritual.
- Try a new hobby
It can seem intimidating to start something new in your twenties that some people have been doing their whole lives, I know. But at this point in your life, you don’t have to be doing something to be the best at it. Hobbies should be activities that give you joy or ease anxiety, not something that adds stress. Try and dedicate a month to start an activity you’ve thought about, without the pressure of getting good at it.
Some ideas could be painting, sewing, yoga, writing, cooking, the list is endless.
- Read a book 30 minutes before bed every night
If you’re like me, having school online for the past year has truly made the idea of writing on paper or picking up an actual book foreign. It’s better for your brain and your eyes to get your hands on a tangible book rather than an online or audio version.
Spending a month reading for 30 minutes every night can help you to wind down and learn more about something you’re passionate about over time. My favorite book right now is How Not to Die which discusses using nutrition to prevent and reverse diseases. Whether your interest is nutrition, fashion, music, nature, what have you, there’s many books for every topic.
- Practice writing down statements of self love
If you don’t journal already, I recommend that first and foremost. If you do, try shaking up your simple “Dear Diary,” routine with self love statements. You can implement these daily, weekly or however often you see fit. This can help boost your confidence and help you get to know yourself. Don’t limit yourself to image based statements, dive deep into what you love about your mind and soul, too.
- Personality trait journaling
This is something I started doing just about a month ago that has helped me tremendously. I started this because I heard someone say, "You can't change your personal reality without changing your personality." When I was stuck in a rut, I knew I wanted to grow in some way but I couldn’t put my finger on it. What I began to do is journal about who I was and who I wanted to become in the terms of personality traits. For example, last month I wanted to become a more intuitive person. So, I wrote down why I wanted this and how I would practice it everyday. You can limit yourself to one or two traits a week if you want, and write out actual actions you can take to work toward the goal of being whatever it is you dream of. It’s like manifesting, only for the goal of becoming a better you.
Why limit ourselves to one huge new year's resolution? If you choose one thing to work on every month you will have done so much for your physical and mental health by the end of the year. Say you finish a month and didn’t really feel the benefit of your activity, drop it! If what you practiced resonated with you, keep it in your life throughout the year! They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so let’s start some good ones.