Research suggests that 9% of people in the US that make New Year's resolutions stick to them. Resolutions can often feel overwhelming and when we don't stick to them, it can feel like we have failed. Instead of resolutions, at Lumie we are taking a gentle approach and are focusing on intention-setting, self-care and well-being to maintain optimal energy levels throughout the new year. We are joined by author and science journalist, Amy Arthur, who shares top tips for putting your energy into what matters this February. Let's hear what Amy has to say!
Identify your goals
To find balance in our lives, we first need to figure out what items we’re placing on the scales. Where do you want to spend your time and energy?
You might consider the goals you have for the coming months. These might be goals for your career, for your health and well-being, for hobbies and recreation, or within your relationships. It’s important not to overload yourself with too many lofty aspirations. It’s okay if your goals are small, or if in some areas of your life the most you can ask for is consistency. ‘Maintain a close relationship with my family’ or ‘continue to eat healthy as much as possible’ are just as valid as any other ambitions.
Find your small steps
Once you’ve identified some long-term goals, you’ll want to make a plan for how you can work towards them in a way that will be sustainable. It’ll be tempting to jump right in; to buy an annual gym membership before you’ve done a single stretch or to accept new responsibilities at work without a glance at your already-overspilling to-do list. But taking on too much, too soon can lead us into burnout.
Instead, think about the small steps that can lead you toward your big goals. Tiny changes to your daily routine, or starting simple habits, will make it easier to balance out your time and energy while still giving you a boost in confidence and self-belief that comes from goal pursuit.
It’s a good idea to invite someone into this process, as they can help you stay realistic when planning your steps. Valentine’s Day might be a good time to sit down with those you love and work out how you want to move forward, together.
Maybe scheduling a date night once a week will help you improve your relationship. Setting aside 15 minutes to engage with your hobbies or learn something new may offer you time to rest after a hard day at work.
If you’re concerned about wavering motivation, bring an element of reward into your steps. You’re much more likely to do something if you enjoy the act, or if there’s a treat at the end of it. This is especially important at the beginning of any new goal, because your daily actions haven’t become habitual yet.
Make it as easy as possible for you to take steps toward your goals – willpower alone isn’t enough to get me out of bed every morning, but the aid of a sunrise lamp, a good cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast has helped me (mostly) resist the temptation to stay under the covers.
You are not a machine, built to reach goal after goal, deadline after deadline. While we can pursue multiple goals at once, be mindful of never embracing activities that have no set goal. Do you avoid spending time on hobbies if they can’t be monetized or Instagrammed? Do you struggle to keep up exercise routines unless you have a set distance or finish line to reach for?
Achievement can bring us happiness, for sure, but it’s not the only source of joy. Remember to find ways to spend your time and energy that are pleasurable for their own sake, not just for a sense of success.
You don’t have a constant, endless supply of energy. Our minds and bodies need time to recharge, so to truly pace yourself you’ll need to balance out your activities with adequate rest. Getting good sleep is really important, as is finding ways to rest during the day and after you’ve exerted a lot of energy.
When you’re well-rested, you’ll find that your daily tasks take less effort. You’ll likely feel happier, more energized and more motivated. Rest, far from being the opposite of achievement, is key to healthy, consistent and sustainable goal pursuit.