If shedding a few pounds tops your set of resolutions, you’re not alone. In fact, losing weight or eating healthier accounts for nearly one-fourth of the New Year’s resolutions made each year in the U.S., according to recent statistics. While maintaining a healthy weight is certainly important, it’s far from the only measure of a person’s true happiness, health, and overall quality of life. There are plenty of other areas that deserve equal, if not more, attention. We asked life coaches to share the resolutions really worth setting to help make 2018 better and brighter.
1. Set aside 10 minutes a day for radical self-care
You might think heading to the gym on the regular and getting a massage every few months check off your “self-care” box, but experts say true self-care demands constant attention. “When we tell ourselves that we don’t have time to do something for ourselves, we are perpetuating a myth,” says Amy Kosh, a life coach based in Asheville, North Carolina, and founder of An Unstoppable Life. “The truth is that when we practice just 10 minutes a day of self-care, whether that’s reading a book, walking around the block, eating lunch away from our desks or simply enjoying laughing with some friends, we are lowering our stress levels and making ourselves more productive.” Radical self-care, she explains, takes self-care one step further — it’s about understanding that when you take a break during the day, you become more energized, with fresh ideas, a clearer perspective and lower anxiety levels.
2. Try a new activity once a month
Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying your hand at something totally new, say paint night or rock climbing, might not immediately seem beneficial, but it can do wonders for your level of self-satisfaction. “When we learn we feel a sense of accomplishment, no matter if it’s a new dance step, or a new fitness class, the lyrics to a new song or going to that Meetup on writing that sounded pretty cool,” says Kosh. “When we stretch ourselves our brains also shift gears, we gain new perspectives on every aspect of our lives, from relationships to work, bosses to kids and all of these can benefit from a fresh pair of eyes.” Consider signing up for that dance class even though you think you have no rhythm or that boxing class even though you think you might be the only girl (you’ll be surprised by how many men and women come together to box each class!). The world is your oyster!
3. Speak kindly to yourself
The last time that you looked in the mirror, you probably weren’t complimenting your stunning eyes and impeccable bone structure. Chances are, you were scrutinizing the tiny physical features you can’t stand — or would like to change. It’s very normal to do this, but it’s incredibly damaging. That’s why Elsie Storm, M.A., a transformational life coach and spiritual psychologist, suggests spending at least 30 seconds a day speaking kind words to yourself. “It is really easy and simple, and is such a game changer,” she says. “You can do it while looking in the mirror and compliment yourself and your body, as if a friend is telling you how hot and gorgeous you are, or speak out loud to yourself in the car when you are driving to work and tell yourself how smart you are and how you’ve totally got this big presentation coming up.” Most importantly, make sure that you are celebrating your successes!
4. Create (and stick to) a budget
With online banking right at our fingertips, we are now able to log in and check our bank accounts to see our balance immediately, which at times makes us lazy about keeping a budget (because why budget when I can just log into my bank account and check my balance?), Storm notes. “Keeping a budget helps you spend less, reduces financial stress, helps you pay off your debt and stay out of credit card debt.” That’s why, for 2018, she recommends getting into the habit of checking your budget app daily instead of your bank account balance. “Assign every dollar a job and know exactly where your money is going as a way of you controlling your money instead of your money controlling you,” she says.
5. Keep a gratitude journal
When you think deeply about the things in life you’re grateful for — your friends, perhaps your job, your family, etc. — you probably realize how lucky you are. But how often do you stop and think about these things? To add more joy and happiness to your life, start keeping a gratitude journal. “Each day write down three things that you are grateful for that day,” says Storm. “It can be simple things like: ‘I’m grateful for my warm home that has running water and electricity,’ or ‘I’m grateful for my parents.’” Whatever it is, notice how your energy and emotions change when you move into a true state of gratitude. “If you can do this every day for the first 30 days, chances are that you will be able to continue it for months to come as it will be something that makes you feel so good!”
6. Try a new exercise a month
“Try something new each month and before you know it, your fitness routine will never look the same,” says Michelle Elman, a five-board accredited life coach. Once you’ve found your few favorite classes, you’ve probably set them up on repeat in your calendar, but getting stuck in a routine—even a fitness routine—is no good. “As children, we used to try so many different types of exercise without calling it exercise whether it was riding a bike or playing sports,” she adds. “You don’t know what you don’t like unless you try it and trying something new can push you out of your comfort zone.” Try stand up paddleboarding for example, or maybe a cardio kickboxing class. Sign up for a team sport, or gather up your friends for a good game of rounders.