Hello Friends! The New Year is fast approaching, and with it comes goals and expectations for living a better life and being a better version of ourselves. For me, the idea is to create realistic and challenging goals for myself for the whole year. That way if I start to fall off in February or March, I get back to it in April! If you are someone who is struggling to come up with solid goals/ changes for the New Year or you’re just open to new ideas, here are my tips to get you started on the right foot in 2017.
One of my favorite things to do is to throw things away, (and by throw things away, I mean recycle, give away, and repurpose). The amount of garbage that we collect without even realizing is astounding. We live in a consumer driven society which promotes the mass accumulation of stuff that we don’t really need. Any time I am starting something new in my life, or when the end of the semester comes around, or a new season approaches, even if I’m just feeling overwhelmed, I clean my surroundings. I spend almost all day going through papers, clothes, books, all of my drawers and cabinets and I get rid of everything I don’t need. Not only will you create more physical space for yourself, you inadvertently create more space in your mind as well.
I truly believe that there is a direct correlation between cleaning your surroundings and putting your mind at ease. I know there are some people out there who operate perfectly fine with surroundings that are very out of sort, and if you’re one of those people, kudos to you. But, if you’re like me, and you’re finding it hard to concentrate or get even the simplest tasks done, it might be time for you to examine your surroundings and see where you can cut down. Starting the New Year with a clean living space will open you up to more opportunities than you’re probably even aware of. Leave 2016, and all the crap from it where it belongs, which is in the past! Start 2017 with a clean slate, and only look back to see how far you’ve come.
2. Start Exercising
First off, I think most people start off making goals for going to the gym with a totally wrong perspective and that’s why some people give up on their goals sooner than others. Most people start off going to the gym because they want to lose weight, gain weight, or build muscle. And while none of these goals are inherently wrong, and I think it’s healthy to have goals for your body, it’s very important to make sure that these goals aren’t stemming from self-hate. So many women (and men) look at their bodies and only see the so-called “un-attractive” or “imperfect” qualities about themselves. If you make goals for yourself with the idea in mind that “I will only love my body when…”, you are starting down a very dangerous slope.
I am a firm believer that every body is beautiful. There is no single and one way a body should look in order to be healthy or attractive. Beautiful, healthy and happy people come in all shapes and sizes. Exercise plays a huge role in keeping a healthy mind and body, so enjoy working out because it’s good for you and you’ll only become a better you because of it. If incorporating exercise is one of your goals for the New Year, make sure you start any exercise with this in mind: “I love my body, and I want to keep it healthy and strong. That’s why I’m doing this”.
With all that being said, it is also very important to pick an activity that you love doing. Nothing kills motivation quite like dread, and if you’re doing a workout that you hate, you’re more likely to quit. So get creative and explore with different types of exercise! A good workout doesn’t just have to come from the gym, it can come from hiking, walking, swimming, yoga, dancing, running, taking a karate class, the possibilities are truly endless. The goal is to think outside of the box, and once you find something you truly like and are excited to do, stick with it!
3. Shop Smarter
I once heard someone compare every dollar you spend to casting a vote; every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for something you want to continue. Many people feel that many of the problems we face as a species are too big for any one person to truly make a difference, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can most definitely make a significant change simply by being aware of where you put your money. There are plenty of ways to instantly make better purchases and make a positive impact without trying too hard.
The two big ones that come to mind are shopping Cruelty Free and Fair Trade. It’s no secret that animals are not treated with respect in this society, and that definitely does not stop when it comes to cosmetics or household products. When you buy products with the cruelty free logo, you can be assured that you are supporting a company that understands these animal testing practices are often ineffective, unnecessary and just plain cruel. Essentially, any time you buy cruelty free, you are saving an innocent life.
Buying Fair Trade is just as important! Most of the food that we consume in this country comes from other countries, and the sad fact is, many of the farmers who grow our food hardly make enough money to support their families and they live well below the poverty line. Buying products that are fair trade ensures that farmers who grew your food are paid a fair wage and that they can build a better future for themselves and their families. Many women who are habitually ignored and oppressed in these countries have no other means of support, but buying Fair Trade gives them an opportunity to have a better life for themselves and their children. The power of taking care of one another cannot be overlooked, especially now. You may never meet the farmer in Colombia who grew your coffee beans, but to know that you have helped to improve their life is a gift in itself.
And last but certainly not least, thrift shopping!!! I used to hate thrift shops when I was younger, but in the last few years, I’ve become very fond of them. Not only is thrifting good for your wallet, it’s also really good for the planet. Many clothing companies in this day and age use slave labor to make their clothing, because it is cheaper for them. Workers aren’t paid anywhere near what they deserve, are made to work in terrible conditions and work ridiculously long hours. And most of the time they are underage and women. Shopping at thrift stores not only solves this problem, but on top of that many thrift stores donate to causes that support AIDS research, give to homeless shelters, and other awesome causes. So you can feel triply (is that a word?) awesome knowing that you’re saving money, not supporting slave labor, and helping people in need!
In closing my friends, the New Year isn’t about creating a “new you”, it’s about creating a better you. It’s about taking the life lessons from the previous year and turning them into successes and triumphs. It’s about becoming more aware and seeing how you can make an impact on your community and the people around you. Continue to shine your light and stay fabulous.