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Archive for January, 2012

Green is the New Pink

A few weeks back I wrote about my new approach to New Year’s resolutions.  I decided that this year I wanted to make some lasting positive changes to my life.  In the past, resolutions haven’t really stuck with me.  At best they stick around for a couple of weeks, but they tend to be ideas floating around in my mind that never actually make any observable presence in my life.

To change this, I decided to focus on habit creation.  I’m going to pick approximately one habit to focus on each month in the hopes that by the end of the year I can say that I achieved quite a few of my resolutions.

For January I wanted to focus on creating a daily habit of teeth flossing.  Overall, it has gone pretty well.  I can’t say that it is a full-fledged habit just yet, but I haven’t completely blown it off or forgotten about it either.  It will be probably take me a few more weeks to really incorporate it into my routine.

However, since the tooth flossing has been going so well, I have decided to try to incorporate another habit into my daily life.  In February my focus will be on adding one serving of green veggies into my daily diet.  I tend to eat pretty well, but the food I eat on any given day tends to be red (tomatoes are possibly my favorite food), brown (I crave bread and peanut butter) or white (dairy is a weakness).  I really try to add green into my meals, too.  But every week I buy a container of romaine lettuce or spinach leaves, and every week I throw out at least half of a container of romaine lettuce or spinach leaves.

Even though it is extremely easy to throw together a salad or put some lettuce onto a sandwich, it feels like work to me.  I think the reason I’m so lazy about such an easy thing is that I’m not motivated to make a serving of green foods to add to my dinner.  I need to find some exciting ways to prepare my greens in order to really make this habit work–I’m thinking spinach smoothies, salads with interesting ingredients, and roasted broccoli, among other things.

Perhaps by the end of February I’ll be writing about how I haven’t had to throw out a single container of green veggies since January.  That’s the goal.

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Blue

What is it with January?

It seems like every January I find myself either wanting to go back to school or change my career or move to a new state.  Often it’s a combination of these things and I think that they might be a coping mechanism to help me deal with the blues.

Every year I really struggle to get through January and I’ve compiled a short list of theories for this over the past few years.  One reason is that it’s kind of hard to get back to reality after the joy of the holiday season.  Another reason could be fewer hours of daylight triggering some sort of seasonal depression.  Or it could just be that the cold weather starts to get to me and leaves me hopelessly longing for spring and summer.

This January I’ve already spent a fair amount of time with the blues.  But it isn’t because of any of the things I usually blame. This year I’m just scared.

Over the past couple of years I’ve had to deal with heartache and adjust to a lot of changes, but I haven’t done a very good job with either of these things.  I know that everyone goes through hard times and that most of us come out of them eventually, but I’m still really nervous about the possibility of having another year like the ones I’ve been having.

At least February will be here in a few weeks.  February usually does wonders at getting me out of my January slump.

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Rethinking Resolutions

I decided to try something a little different with my resolutions this year to see if it would help me stick to them.  Every year I come up with a list of 5 or 10 resolutions and every year I fail at nearly every single one.  I’m pretty good at not beating myself up about it and the silver lining is that I can carry my unaccomplished resolutions with me into the next new year.

This  year, however, I would like to take my resolutions a little more seriously and actually make some positive changes to my life.  That is why this year I’m deciding to focus on creating habits instead of making a list of things that I will have forgotten about by February.

There are a lot of reasons resolutions can be hard to stick to:  often they are too general, they aren’t measurable, they haven’t been broken down into simple enough steps, etc.  But two of the biggest reasons that I’ve read about is that we often take on too many things at once (which is overwhelming) and we don’t give them enough time to become habitual parts of our routine (and we fall off the wagon, so to speak).

Many people suggest that in order to make something a habit you have to do that thing every day and you should come up with some sort of “trigger” for doing that activity.  As I was thinking about my own daily habits the first one that came to mind is that I tidy my bedroom every day (the rest of my home is a different story).  My trigger for this habit is showering.  Every day after I’m finished showering and getting ready I go straight to my room, clean up any clothes that are lying around, and make my bed.  I never think about it.  I just do it.  Similarly, I would like my resolutions to become habits that I do naturally.

For 2012, I’m going to focus on one habit at a time.  I’m starting with flossing my teeth.  I know, it sounds kind of silly, but I’m always thinking about how I really should floss my teeth every day for better  health.  It’s just so easy to put off until tomorrow or next week or before St. Patrick’s Day.  Also, I think it’s a good idea to start with something small.  Once I notice that flossing my teeth has become a normal daily habit, I’ll move on to the next thing.

I’m hoping that this focus on creating habits will help me check off some of the resolutions that turn up on my list year after year, and maybe next year my resolutions list will be much smaller or look completely different than it has looked for the past few years.

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Beginning with Intention

I have a tradition every New Year’s Eve.  I write a letter to myself with my intentions for the next year, seal it up, and don’t look at again until December 31st the following year.  It’s a tradition that’s become very important to me because it forces me to reflect on the past year, my current state of being, and what things I would like to nurture or bring into my life the next year.

When I first began doing this a few years ago, I called it a resolutions letter.  But I’ve come to realize that the things I write about aren’t quite resolutions, which I also make at the beginning of a new year.  My letters are intentions that help me set a focus for the year ahead and should help guide my actions and choices to move me closer to the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to have.  For instance, the first year I wrote an intention letter I was coming off an especially difficult year and was very nervous about what the next year would bring.  I wrote about how I wanted to focus on bringing calm back into my life and I let that idea of calmness guide me during the next year.

Yesterday when I opened my letter from a year ago I was surprised to find how poorly I did at bringing the things that I had hoped for into my life.  In fact, one of my intentions was the opposite of what my life actually looked like this year.  The problem wasn’t that it was a bad year.  Basically, I wrote my intentions and forgot about them–completely.  I had no idea what I was going to be reading when I opened my letter.  It doesn’t do a lot of good to write about the things that you want most in your life and then forget about them.  The other problem was that I had adopted such a negative attitude this year and felt so stuck in a rut that it was unlikely that I was going to have a great year because my mindset was all wrong.

This year I’m making a commitment to keep my focus on the things I’m hoping for.  Hopefully when I look back on my letter I will find that I was able to attract many good things into my life in 2012.

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