It’s common to avoid making changes, even though we say we want to; especially if you’re someone like me who doesn’t really like change. One reason for this is that we try to make multiple big changes all at once. However, science has proven that making a few small habit changes is the best way to create effective and lasting change. If you are ready to get started making this year the healthiest and happiest yet, you should start with these seven simple micro-habits.
1. Set Boundaries
What is the one thing you consistently do that depletes your time and energy? Maybe it’s a committee which you no longer want to be part of, or a weekly get together with friends that you’ve outgrown. Now’s the time to choose yourself over these non-essentials. Plan a way to get out of these time and energy draining activities. And when new opportunities come up, take some time to decide if they will genuinely enhance your life or end up merely stealing your time. Say no more often.
2. Start a Journal
We should credit ourselves more often for the positive choices we make. One way to begin acknowledging our accomplishments is by starting a journal. Journaling helps us work out problems, counteract stress and track our progress in life. It’s easy to overlook all the little gains we make during a single year and looking back through a journal is a great way to see how far we’ve come. We can dream about where we want to go next.
Moving our bodies around is good for lots of reasons beyond staying fit. It’s also about releasing those feel-good hormones that keep us happy and energized. Look at your schedule and see how you can work 30 minutes of exercise into your day. After a few days, you’ll start to wonder how you managed without the stress relief and energy exercising gives you.
4. Plan your MIT’s
Ever get to your desk in the morning and wonder where even to start? Too often we live and work in survival mode and never get around to the tasks that matter. One simple way to combat this is to plan your MIT’s—Most Important Tasks—for tomorrow before you leave work for the day. I do this every night before I leave the office by writing out my to-dos for the next day. This way, when you arrive in the morning, you’ll exactly know what to start working on, and you’ll avoid wasting time thinking through what you did yesterday.
5. Dedicate Time to Interests
When is the last time you did something during the week that you enjoyed? Many of us say we’ll participate in a hobby on the weekend, but when the time comes, we spend it doing chores or taking care of things that didn’t get done during the week. It’s time to change this. Instead of watching mindless TV or scrolling through social media after you wash the dishes, spend time doing something you love. Put together a puzzle, knit a scarf, pull out those watercolors. Whatever passion you think you are too busy to enjoy anymore, make time for it and watch how much joy it adds to your life.