2017: Habits to Make & Break

January 6, 2017

 

Happy New Year!  As we all tend to do, I found myself reflecting on resolutions for 2017. For me, 2016 was full of many wonderful happenings - taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, the birth of my two godsons, adventures with Serge, my best friends' weddings, and many more!  Naturally, I want to make 2017 even better.  Here's (part of) my list for how:

 

SOCIAL MEDIA SLIM-DOWN & NO-PHONE SUNDAYS

Less social media?  Yes.  I know I can do with a little less time spent gawking at other people's activities and more time engaged in my own.  If we ask ourselves, what does social media give to me in return for all the time & effort I give to it, the answer is rather disappointing.  It's not actually helping to create or deepen our connections with people, nor is sharing our moments with strangers or just for "likes" actually enhancing those moments.  

 

In general, the habit of living for social-media-moments has to go.  It seems that state of mind has become pervasive in our culture.  Rather than capturing a moment through a lens (just to later post it), we should be capturing the moment in our memories and with one another.  This might mean turning our phones off, maybe even leaving them at home.  Or, if we need the security of having it with us, just put it out of reach or use DND mode.  The habit I want to make? No Phone Sundays.  Disengage to engage.  This isn't about eliminating all social media or phones (let's face it, we wouldn't survive:)); it's simply about focusing more on living our lives for our selves - unfiltered, and in the moment.  

 

REAL CONNECTIONS: COFFEE, CALLS & BIRTHDAY CARDS

Why is it that real connections with friends and family are becoming so rare? Because of social media, we often feel connected to people more than we actually are.  I often think of how nice it would be to catch up with a friend I haven't spoken to in a while, but opt not to call because "there's so much to catch up on!"  Worse yet, even with close friends nearby, I don't find time for a quick cup of coffee to catch up and have a real conversation. "We're both so busy."  "It's too hard to schedule."  Excuses, excuses.   

 

So, let's strive to fix this in 2017.  The habit to get into: make plans to have coffee, dinner or a phone date with friends and family 3 times a week, minimum.  For non-immediate family, put these dates on the calendar (even use StayInTouch.io!), and make it happen.  

 

As for birthday cards...I've been a total slacker long enough and things need to change. My family cares enough to send them to me, and I have always appreciated it.  Yet, I fail miserably to show such appreciation by returning the same gesture.  So, this year, I'm writing down all the birthdays of my family & close friends, buying cards for them now, and addressing & stamping them.  Then, they are going in a box, with dividers for each month, and all I have to do is write them out and seal the envelope when the day comes. If this doesn't work...nothing will. 

 

STOP SPECTATING;  REVEL IN YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Pretty simple:  stop watching others live their lives and start living yours.  

 

Let 2017 be the year you do what you really enjoy.  Or, take a step back, and let this be the year you learn what you really enjoy.  Perhaps you've been living in others' shadows so long you've forgotten what you like to do.  Perhaps you've decided you like things simply because you've spent so much time watching others like them.  Let this be the year you figure out what you're all about.  And, what you are not about.  Find your authentic self, and let that person revel in the things s/he loves.  Pick up the skill, language, sport you've been wanting to try.  Blog.  Start running.  Stop doing yoga just because everyone else is. And above all, stop watching others do the things you should be out there doing yourself!

 

How to get to know ourselves better?  Spend time in self-reflection.  For me, I believe that writing/blogging and diving more into meditation are two great ways to practice self-reflection and self-awareness.  Plus, some stillness from time to time can go a long way.

 

Make a habit of finding the things that best suit you, and give yourself that much-needed focus.
 

CONSUME LESS, APPRECIATE MORE

I'm not talking about consuming fewer processed foods (although that clearly should be on the list!); I'm talking about consumer goods - clothing, trinkets, etc. Fast fashion has so many devastating effects on people and our environment. Second-hand stores do not keep up with how quickly (not to mention cheaply and unethically) clothes are made today.  How many times do you buy something at HomeGoods or Target or some crappy store in the mall that's stuffed full of mostly poorly-made clothes?  I'm totally guilty of this. I have 3 or 4 cute little dishes to hold...what? Pretty much just other little things I also don't need.  

 

We need to consume less.  We need to be more conscientious consumers.  We need to be more thankful of what we have.  I want to break the habit of buying things simply because it feels good/fun to buy them.  Instead, the habit I want to make in 2017 is to buy fewer, nicer things that will last for years to come.  And, I want to appreciate everything I have. (Of course, being grateful goes far beyond the "stuff" in our lives!) 

 

I also want to be a more informed consumer - check "Made In" labels, read articles about the conditions of workers making clothes for brands I buy, and not bury my head in the sand on issues that are truly affecting others' lives and our environment. 

 

INCREASE LIFE (& WORK) PRODUCTIVITY

Serge and I have decided that a good mantra for 2017 is "don't just talk about it, be about it."  To do all the awesome things you want to do means that you better start increasing your productivity.  We might have committed to extra hours of exercise, time towards learning a new language (Russian, here I come!), and a new business, but that doesn't mean the days got any longer.  So, we are going to have to live and work more productively.  

 

In the vein of everything automated, great apps and software exist to help you stay on the productivity-track.  Here are a few I'm currently using:  Asana (to help you manage your projects (even life projects));  Habitify (to help you stay on top of new habits you're trying to form);  Wunderlist (to help you be a more efficient shopper and house-manager); Xero (to help you manage your accounting/bills);  Mint (to help track spending); and StayInTouch (to help you cut through the noise & tedious steps of following up with new contacts and getting calls/meetings scheduled with friends, family & colleagues).  On the non-tech side, gigantic Post-it notes are also helpful for weekly-goals mapping! :)

 

PLAN FOR 2018

We are all excited for the plans we are making for 2017.  However, we should all be planning for 2018, too.  If you know that in 2018 you are going to have a second child (hint hint Katie), you better be getting ready in 2017.  A wise man once said, "the best way to predict your future is to create it." (A. Lincoln)  But creating your future necessarily includes planning ahead, i.e., drawing the blueprints from which you will build that future. 

 

So, the habit to make is to spend more time thinking ahead - to spend more time drawing our blueprints.  We should get into the habit of putting things into action now that will better prepare us for later.  A long sailing trip in 2018 means sailing lessons in 2017.  A family vacation to South Africa means budgeting in 2017.  And so on.  Of course, we can't predict everything, but the idea is to create the habit of planning ahead.  

 

EMBARK ON MORE ADVENTURES! 

Whether in life, love, travel or even within your own mind, adventure forth! Because, really, what could make for a better 2017 than more adventures? :) 

 

Cheers to a happy & healthy 2017, full of many new, exciting adventures! 

 

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