Can you believe it—2014 is here. If you’re like most Americans, you’re riding the high of freshly made New Year’s resolutions. This, you promise yourself, is the year when you’re finally going to buckle down and make all the big changes you’ve been dreaming about: losing 50 pounds or getting out of debt or finding a new career.
But be honest: Are you really going to do those things? Or are they going to be a fading memory by February or March? If you’re like most people, your so-called “resolve” will fizzle out before the new habits have a chance to take hold.
Here’s my theory: You may not be making the right resolutions. You may need to address issues that are much closer to home—the “small” issues—before you’re in a good place to tackle the Big Life Changes. After all, those big, sweeping, dramatic changes take a lot of energy, and that energy has to come from somewhere. I believe it’s a natural byproduct of loving and honoring yourself every day. Most of us aren’t doing that…so no wonder we’re running on empty.
Think about it: We get so settled into our routines that we go years—or even decades—without consciously taking a look at our lives to assess what’s working and what’s not. We live our lives by default instead of by design. However, we are constantly growing and changing, and the things that used to fit well into our lives may not be honoring who we are today.
So right now, at the beginning of 2014, I urge you to identify the New Year’s resolutions that you need to make and to prioritize them over any resolutions that you want to make. If you do, I think you’ll be surprised and gratified by how much your life changes over the next 12 months and by how prepared you are in 2015—or earlier!—to tackle other big goals.
While they are by no means exhaustive, here are three questions that will get your thinking on the right track:
*Am I taking care of myself? Do you feel tired and run down? Are you overextending yourself? Do you pack your days too full and get too little sleep in order to accomplish everything you want to? You may think you’re getting ahead, but, in reality, you’re hurting your quality of life. If you make taking care of yourself more of a priority, you’ll feel better about taking care of other people and have more energy throughout the day to imitate Superman or Superwoman.
Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s healthy and necessary. Whether you spend a day at the spa or simply take 10 minutes to enjoy a cup of hot tea in the midst of running errands, investing in yourself will make you more resilient and will also reduce your stress and tension.
*Do I spend time with the right people? Think about your friends. Are they supportive or snide? Do you feel energized when you spend time with them, or drained? Are compliments genuine or backhanded? If a friendship isn’t enriching, back away. Choose to spend time with people you genuinely like. Life is too short to spend time with people you don’t enjoy, who try to undercut or out-do you, and with whom you can’t be authentic. You don’t have to be rude to these “frenemies” but remember: You’re in charge of your calendar. You can gracefully say no to one social activity while accepting another, more positive one.
Remember, too, that it’s important to set up clear boundaries. In some cases, others may not realize how bad they’re making you feel. When you make it clear what you’ll no longer tolerate, the light bulb will come on, and, hopefully, they’ll adjust their behavior.
*Does my look still work for me? As you move through life, you’re obliged to deal with problems as they crop up, check off never-ending to-dos, and try to survive each day while minimizing stress. No wonder many people simply don’t have the time, energy, or motivation for a makeover. Appearance may not seem important—but it really is. Even if you don’t realize it on a conscious level, your look does affect your attitude, confidence level, and self-image…and all of that, in turn, affects what you’re able to accomplish.
If you aren’t excited about looking in the mirror (and haven’t been for some time), resolve to update your image in 2014. Women, for some ideas on how to get started, click here for my thoughts on kick-starting your image’s evolution, and here to learn about some common errors that may be sabotaging your style. Men, here is a list of seven things I believe you should have in your closet, and here you can read about accessories that will spice up and polish your look.
Now, at the beginning of a brand new year, is the perfect time to assess your life and make resolutions that will really be meaningful. So ask yourself these three questions and allow them to lead your mind into other areas of life that you may not be living on purpose. If you answer honestly, you’ll be on the road to reaching a good place in 2014.