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It’s 2017! God, it’s gotta be better than last year, right?!

Thank goodness 2016 is over! Am I right?!

It’s been a rough year. A lot of crazy stuff happened around the world and, personally, I’m feeling the weight of it all. But, the best part about a new year is that that last one is over. There is no need to think about it or wonder what could have happened to change things. Instead of dwelling on the past, it’s time to look to the future. And that is a refreshing thought.

The only problem with a shit show year is that people may feel pressured to overreach, maybe even try to make up for 2016 all at once. Trust me, there is no need to change your entire life in the month of January. You have an entire year, let’s not rush things.

You aren’t going to listen to me, are you? That’s okay! Starting anew can be a wonderful feeling. What I worry about is the February crush, when everyone realizes the goals they’ve set are unattainable, and all of the bad things that happened the previous year have consequences that could last until 2020. What happens then?

First thing first. Let’s tackle THIS year before we worry about the next one. Here are some tips for setting those New Year’s resolutions and planning for that high-expectation 2017:

Take time to reflect: I know you would rather not think about the past year, but it’s important to do so. Reflection offers insight into who you are and who you want to be. Think about the decisions that led to happiness and the decisions that led to that depression. Use this time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Also find out what is within your control. The results of certain elections and the needless deaths around the world may influence your unhappiness, but there may not be much you can do about it. Maybe you need to get involved in a charity or nonprofit? Make some donations to the causes you are passionate about? These decisions can only happen if you reflect.

Forget physical health: You will always want to change something about your appearance. Whether the goal is to lose weight, get rid of that muffin top, or simply put more effort into your wardrobe — this type of New Year’s resolution never lasts and always leads to disappointment. Instead, why not focus on mental health and feeling happy. This will still include going to the gym, but you will be going for YOU and not for those few pounds you still have to lose. Spend more time outdoors, meditate, think about your own happiness for once. Be selfish this year. I promise it’s okay to do so!

Start small: Pick one thing per month to do or change. That way, your body and mind are able to adjust. For example, say you will go to the gym two days a week in the month of January. In February, you can start eating less sugar. In March, maybe start a weekly dinner with friends and family. Start meditating for 10 minutes a night in April. If you keep this up, by the end of 2017, all of these habits and new traditions will come naturally to you.

Spend more time with friends and family: Nothing incites depression more than loneliness. Everyone is always “too busy” with work, kids, and commitments. Make 2017 the year of re-connecting and/or making new friends.  Plan a monthly dinner with friends so you can catch up and break from the craziness of regular life. Use this opportunity to vent about work and ask for advice about personal problems. And laugh. I’m a firm believer that laughter is the natural cure to everything!

Be active: No, this doesn’t mean spend more time in the gym. This means do more outside of your home. Get rid of your daily work-home-television routine and put down your phone. Go for more walks, go skating, or visit a museum on their “free” days. Get to know the city you live in. Plan a trip somewhere. Travel or plan a staycation. Nothing lifts spirits as much as a new experience.

Ultimately, focus on yourself this year. I hope these tips help make your 2017 a hell of a lot better than 2016.

And remember to walk away from 2016 like this….it will not hold you back!

 

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How to conquer the New Year’s resolution

It’s the new year, and I’ve already broken down twice. The first is when I realized how much a gym membership would cost me. The second is when I purchased a new phone and it didn’t work to my satisfaction—my emails weren’t there, all of my contacts had disappeared, and my news feeds had to be downloaded again.

It seems silly, doesn’t it, to get so stressed out about such consumerist items. But, it’s not the products themselves that got me worked up. It’s what they represent. My goal to lose weight this year and look amazing for a family wedding was put to an abrupt end when I realized I couldn’t afford to go to the gym. My intention to get more organized was halted when my phone—the device that allows me to remember which meetings I have or  which interviews I have to do—wouldn’t work properly. All of a sudden, I’m looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself “If I can’t get a phone to work or afford to go to the gym, how on earth am I supposed to be the confident, beautiful businesswoman I strive to be in 2016.”

Is this silly? Absolutely. But, I doubt I’m the only one who thinks this way.

At Women’s Post, we’ve already covered why New Year’s Eve sucks, and why we should all avoid the gym. Despite this cynicism, we all find ourselves making resolutions, wanting to be a better person than the year before. A new year brings with it a fresh start, whether or not we believe it’s worth the hassle. So, if we are all going to make New Year’s resolutions anyway, how do we prevent the derailing of these hopes and dreams?

There are a lot of things I could write in this post. I could quote psychologists, nutritionists, and weight loss experts who will all say “be specific” with your new year’s resolutions. They will tell us all to be patient, tell our friends about these plans, take the small wins, be realistic, ect. We hear these statements all the time and yet, studies still show few people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. So, I’m going to make something up.

This is what I am going to do: Instead of telling myself what I should be doing his year, I’m telling myself what I should not be doing. For example:

I will not tell myself I am anything but beautiful: Do I need/want to lose weight? Yes. But, it’s not going to happen overnight. If I can’t get a gym membership now, that’s fine. Did my favourite pair of jeans rip at the thigh? I will take this opportunity to get better ones. If I struggle with my salad lunches or decide I want to splurge on a chocolate mocha, that’s okay! No matter what it says on the scale, I’m beautiful. And that’s, well, that.

I will not judge my choices once I’ve made them: Too often have I sneaked down to the kitchen, taken out a bowl of ice cream, and looked at my sister in the other room and said “don’t judge me.” When I make a decision, it’s mine. I don’t want to feel regret. The only thing going through my head should be “oh well,” “moving on,” “or “hell yes!” I will not dwell on the past any longer. Life is full of choices and if we spend hours thinking about whether or not we made the right ones…well, we wouldn’t be doing anything else.

I will not shy away from learning something new: It’s time to embrace challenges. If I don’t know how to do something, I won’t get frustrated. I will take a deep breath and figure it out. Whether its trying yoga for the first time, learning how to juggle, or even figuring out a new phone, I can do it. And if I can’t, I won’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.

I will not let others get me down: Too often is our self-esteem controlled by statements other people make. When someone makes a comment about my abilities, skills, talents, or personal traits, my response will be “I’m sorry you feel that way.” When an environment becomes poisonous, I will leave the room. I will take deep breaths, do some yoga, or maybe even meditate. I may even fight back. Which ever coping mechanism I decide to use, I promise not to let it effect my confidence.

Will these affirmations work? Who knows. But at least it relieves some of the pressure we are all facing. Ignore the news articles, promotional ads, and messages you get from companies wanting you to buy into their products. Who cares if you lose 30 pounds by bikini season? As cheesy as it is, be happy with who you are. The rest will follow.

Because you are as awesome as you were in 2015, maybe even moreso.

And don’t forget it!