With a new year come new pressures, and you won't need to look far to find the next challenge, resolution, affirmation, or "hack" that improve your life. If you are looking to make big changes to any element of your life, there's no better time than the new year. But sometimes, you just need to get through the year without any unnecessary pressure. If the idea of new year's resolutions makes you shudder, know you're not alone. Instead of setting impossible goals, here are some ways to make this the year you put yourself above everything else.
1. Focus on Your Most Important Body Part: Your Brain
If you're the kind of person who obsesses over what you see as "flaws" in your body, make this the year you turn your attention away from your waistline and toward your brain instead. If you really must tackle some kind of new year challenge, focus on your mental health, or try something like our 2018 Reading Challenge to broaden your literary horizons instead. Try learning a new language, or attending night school to learn more about a subject you love. If your career is a priority, see if your company offers any training or personal development opportunities that might help you to climb the ladder.
2. Tackle Toxic Relationships
Is there someone in your life who's draining all your positive energy without giving anything back? Build up the courage to talk to them about how you're feeling, and see if you can readdress the balance in the relationship. Sometimes, the only solution is to cut ties completely, but sometimes you can salvage things just by talking it out. Give the person a chance (maybe they have things going on in their life that you know nothing about), but don't feel guilty if you have to draw the line and walk away.
3. Exercise For the Right Reasons
Exercise can get you in the right frame of mind for so many things, and it helps to keep your body in top condition so you can really get the most out of each day; it doesn't have to be about building muscle or burning calories. Stop setting impossible goals and just make sure you move in a way that you enjoy. If you hate the gym, give yourself the permission to skip it. Don't go for a run if it gives you horrible flashbacks to year 9 PE lessons. Try something else instead. A long walk in the park counts, and that fresh air is going to do you the world of good too. Putting Beyoncé on full blast and dancing around your bedroom in your underwear is exercise, too.
4. Do the Stuff You Love as Often as You Can
The older you get and the more responsibilities you have, the more likely you are to miss out on the things that really help you to switch off and recharge. If at all possible, try to carve out time to indulge in your little passions, no matter how silly they are. Don't let anybody judge you for your choices, either. If your idea of perfection is staying in your PJs, ordering pizza, and playing video games for a whole weekend, you do you!
5. Don't Feel Too Guilty About Throwing Money at Problems
Not everyone has the luxury to be able to solve problems with money, but if you do, don't spend too long feeling guilty about spending on things that you feel will genuinely make you happier. The time and head space you free up can be used for something else worthwhile, so if you want to pay someone to clean your house, mow your lawn, or cook your dinner, that's your prerogative. Just don't spend money you don't have, or money that you already know you'll need in the future. A spotlessly clean house is only worth it if you can continue to pay the rent or mortgage on it.
6. Talk It Out
There is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist or counselor to help talk through any issues, concerns, or worries you may have. The worst thing you can do is bottle up your issues. If therapy is out of the question financially, see if you can identify someone in your life who you trust and talk to them. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
7. Stop Worrying About What Other People Think
This one's easier said than done, but the simple truth is that you'll never make everyone like you. If you're the kind of person who gets hung up on other people's opinions of you, try to identify why that is. If there is a legitimate reason why someone dislikes you based on your previous actions, maybe that's something you can address if it truly bothers you. But most of the time, it comes down to the simple fact that we're all different as human beings. There will be people you mesh with, and people you don't. That doesn't make them, or you, bad people.
8. Treat Yourself How You Wish to Be Treated
Some of the kindest people in life are guilty of being absolutely horrible to themselves, setting impossibly high personal standards that they'd never impose on others. Is that you? If so, stop being so hard on yourself. Trust your friends and family to give you the same benefit of the doubt that you give them. We're taught to treat people how we wish to be treated, but that means giving yourself a break, too.
9. Eat Dessert
Seriously, life is too short to say no to chocolate fudge cake.