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No Big Deal: 7 Free and Easy Things You Can Do Without Breaking a Sweat in the New Year

Note to self: The first week after the holidays is NOT a good week to start new projects. At least for me.

I have always been an overachiever. And when I can’t attain the highest level of success at something, I often give up. Every December, I get so busy with work that I tell myself I’ll get to the important stuff like personal growth in the new year, but then I’m so overwhelmed at the new year that I collapse under the weight of expectations, and the week I’m supposed to be the most productive, I feel like a blob of failure and procrastination. Sound familiar?

At the new year we are bombarded with expectations to set goals, sign up for the gym, promote our business more on social media, find a class that’s going to teach us that thing that is going to change our life, spend more time meditating, do more yoga, spend more time with family, and all while trying to dodge COVID (hopefully in a few years this part of the blog will be in the rearview mirror) or a cold or whatever the next disease is.

It’s maddening! No wonder people get so depressed in the new year. It’s too much! And without the best version of you, what does any of it matter? So, here are some easy steps you can take right now that require almost no thinking and very little effort at all that will make a big difference in getting the year off right:

  1. Turn off your phone. Start right after reading this blog. Leave it somewhere all by itself for a half hour. My phone is one of the greatest sources of stress in my life, and I’ll be honest, this one isn’t easy. There’s so many good excuses to stay on it, like work. But in the evening, I try to put it away and be with my husband and our dogs. There is nothing I need to see or know in the world at 7pm. In the mornings, I start the day off with my gratitude journal and avoid looking at the news or emails right away which I know will throw me off my game. Starting my morning right will guide the rest of my day.

  2. Say no more often. I am a pleaser by nature. I hate disappointing people, but learning to be firm about the days and hours that I work and what is possible, has made me a happier person, better at my job, and happier in the other parts of my life.

  3. Leave the building. For me, this is the salon or my home office. I used to pride myself on how hard I worked, how much I could get done in a day. But there are years of my working life that I barely remember, because they all blur together. I never took time to enjoy my work, the people I worked with, or the places they took place.

  4. Do something kind for someone else. Is there anything more beautifully selfish? It makes me feel good to see someone happy, or to know that I might have made a difference in someone’s day.

  5. Walk. I can’t stress this one enough. For Steven and I, this usually involves walking the dogs, especially when we are at our house in Palm Springs, where there are endless beautiful neighborhoods and views to explore. Walking is good for your mental health and is also a good time to consider those audacious goals you’ve been meaning to get to and write them down as they show up.

  6. Keep an ideas journal or a happiness journal. I use my phone to keep notes of things I want to remember, ideas for blogs, classes I want to take, or teach, people I need to call. I always think I have so many brilliant ideas, but if I don’t write them down, I absolutely will not remember them later. Don’t worry if these notes make sense to anyone but you. I also take note of moments or things that make me happy, so that when I get frustrated at something, like work, I can look back at it and remember the parts of it that bring me joy, and try to do more of those things.

  7. Spend time doing nothing. Give yourself permission to do nothing. I didn’t start watching TV until I was in my forties. I always thought it was a waste of time, until I realized that doing nothing is as important as getting shit done. We need those times and those things that help us to recharge.

I am a firm believer in setting audacious goals. I believe in going for it big. And I also believe auspicious dates are a good time to start something new, but this year I’m moving that date to February—2/2/2022 or 2/22/2022 look like great numbers. I believe they’re even called angel numbers. Until then, I’m going to pause and think about the big stuff but take these small steps and take care of me first.

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