New Year, New Me

Every year in December, people start to get into the spirit and excitement of New Year. We make numerous promises to ourselves: the promise of incorporating better habits into our life like waking up at 5 a.m. for a more productive day and excelling in both personal and professional life, or to show everyone in our extended family what a priceless gem we are by doing something amazing (though it takes the whole year just to decide what that is!), because nothing is better than showing all of the desi aunties what a girl boss we are. Promises like these get us all fired up but by the end of January almost everyone tends to lose steam and we go back to living for the excitement of food and meet-ups (which never happens in reality!), and attending weddings so we can dance, eat and gossip, all at the same time. And we move on to telling ourselves that we’ll do better next month or maybe next year.
Personally speaking, each December I get super excited and pumped up, open my Pinterest, pin at least 50 motivational pins, and make new boards for the coming year. By the time the New Year comes, however, I would have barely read five of those pinned articles and save them for the next December (sigh!). 
But this December, as the new year approaches let’s pledge to be a positive change in society, let’s stop focusing on what other people do and start focusing on improving our own lives, let’s become better humans, let’s be a positive change — may it be at home or at work.

Here is a list of inspiring ideas I have been implementing (they work!) and want to implement in the year 2020 for a new me and that you can also try.

Make One Small Change Every Month
It is easy to stick to something new for a few days rather than for the long term. For example, if you want to become a morning person, the biggest hurdle after waking up early for a few days will be that your mind will trick you into detesting the idea of waking up early each morning for the rest of your life. The trick is to tell yourself that you just have to do it for 3 weeks because it takes 21 days to make a habit. So if your aim is just 3 weeks, before you know it, it will become your new normal. A win-win situation!
This way you can implement many good habits, like drinking more water, getting to bed at a decent hour, unpluging and unwinding for an hour before bed time, meditation for 10 minutes a day, no soda, no complaining, finding positive in negative situations and random acts of kindness.

Areas of Improvement to Work On
Work on one physical, emotional, mental, financial, professional and spiritual goal for yourself. Grow your understanding and knowledge with the help of books, videos and podcasts. Develop one new skill or habit to make life better. For example, for a physical goal try giving up soda this year, for spiritual goal listen to Muslim Central podcasts to get a better understanding of your deen, for mental goal start playing a game like chess or reading books to improve your concentration and mental skills. Work on one goal at a time.
Listen to Podcasts While Commuting
Traffic in most cities can be horrendous, and it can drive people mad while waiting for the whole population of Pakistan to cross one signal. Instead of going mad every day, make that time more productive and less frustrating by listening to podcasts. Choose a topic of your interest, something funny, storytelling, learn about a new topic like financial understanding or maybe listen to a book on Audible.

Fitness is a Journey, Not a Goal
Every New Year, a lot of us pledge to lose weight and get a flat stomach. We start to work out 1st of January and by the 10th we are done! Because drinking green tea and eating an apple every morning is just sad and salad for lunch is torture (makes me want to cry!) and when we don’t see the results that we want soon enough, it becomes frustrating and we give up because we want to go back to eating all the biryanis and pizzas. Remember, weight loss, clean eating, toning up your body, etc., does not happen overnight, it is a consistent effort to keep yourself healthy. Keep 
reminding yourself that fitness is a journey and the rewards are not just a healthy body but good energy levels and clarity of mind as well.
Work slowly on giving up bad food habits, one habit at a time. For example, instead of giving up on your favorite foods, try to control the meal portion, like instead of eating two naans eat one and a half, instead of drinking a full glass of coke maybe go for half. Before you know it, clean eating will become easier as opposed to giving up everything all at once.

Practice Self-Care
Don’t forget to pamper yourself, not only physically but also mentally. Develop a 15 minutes morning and night routine to start the day right and unwind and relax, plan a vacation, meet up with friends regularly (at least once a month!), learn to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable yet graceful, be kind to yourself (there are already enough people who put us down); make a promise that this coming year that you will respect and treat yourself well.

Spend Time with People Who Matter
Invest your time in meaningful relationships. Cut out or at least go into minimum contact with toxic, insincere and negative people in your life, be it relatives who won’t get a hint or neighbors who are all up in your business — know your evasive maneuvers.

Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature is revitalizing, boosts happiness, uplifts our mood, inspires creativity and gives a feeling of calm after all the noise we hear and visual overload, everyday. Go for a walk in a park or your garden, walk bearfoot on the grass, grow something, for example, a fragrant flower or a visually appealing flower,  watch the sunrise or put a bird feeder in place where you can see it. 

Power of Gratitude
We live in a society where the focus is always on material things: higher status, more money, more of everything! And in this race of ‘more’, we forget to appreciate and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I know it will sound tedious but keep a gratitude journal and write down what you are currently grateful. It doesn’t matter what you don’t have, learn to appreciate what you do, no matter how big or small, like good weather on a particular day or less traffic on your way home. Cultivating a thankful mindset will work as a stress-relief mechanism, since it shifts our focus on the good happening in our life and brings us joy. Print some quotations or reminders, frame them and put them on the wall to be more thankful of all the good we have.
Write A New Year’s Letter to Yourself
As a last step of setting up New Year Resolutions, write a letter to yourself. Write about your strengths and how they can help you become a better person (you cannot use your skillset if you are not aware of what it is), top three priorities in life, what makes you the happiest, a moment that made you stronger in 2019, five big lessons learnt in 2019 and what is holding you back from the life you want. Write about what you want to achieve in the coming year, five things you want to practice more in 2020, five things you want to do in 2020, and ten affirmations.
Review this letter at the end of each month to remind yourself of your dreams and hopes and at the end of the year to compare where you started and how much you achieved. Happy New Year! HH

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