Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead, follow him on twitter.
We all get stuck in ruts from time to time. We get off track and lose sight of the life we meant to live. I know I’m probably not the only one who has wished that I could find a reset button for life.
While we can’t exactly travel back in time (flux capacitor or not), there’s certain ways we can “reboot” our lives.
With the New Year right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to get a fresh start on an area of your life you’ve been meaning to overhaul.
The New Year is an exciting time. It symbolized transformation and starting new. It’s a time when you can let go of the old, shed your past and begin again.
The problem is a lot of the time we get super excited about these new goals, but we lose focus. A few months later December rolls around and we wondered what happened. Where did we go wrong?
The most important thing we need to keep in mind is not necessarily being disciplined, but setting the right type of goals. If we’re just setting socially conditioned goals (like making more money or upgrading the things we own), we’ll likely lose interest, because our heart is not in it.
So there first step is to set aspirations that come from your heart and what you value most. Then just take it one day at a time. Think small, act big.
NOTE: Read the notice at the bottom of this post for info about The Power of Less New Year’s Challenge!
Here are some suggestions for ways you can reboot your life:
- 30 Days to Health. Use the month of January to start new eating habits. Maybe you want to become vegetarian, vegan or completely raw. Or maybe you just want to eliminate processed foods like; frozen food, chips, soft drinks, candy and essential junk foods.
- Go on the Master Cleanse: a 10 day mono-diet fast that will help you reboot your health and eating habits. I’ve personally done this 3 times. It helps you rejuvenate your body and your mind. When you’re not spending your energy on digestion, your body can use its energy to heal itself. It’s amazing when you’re fasting how much time you realize you spend thinking about eating and making food.
- Reassess your mess. Go through out all your junk and make 3 piles: toss/recycle, donate, and keep. Throw out or donate or sell anything you haven’t used in over a year. The same rule applies with your closet, garage and wardrobe. For a more detailed guide see here and here.
- Unwind your mind. We spend a lot of time trying to organize and create more functional living spaces. But we often neglect the most important space we live in: our mind. Take advantage of the New Year to reboot your mind. Drop disempowering beliefs, drop negativity. Cull and remove what’s not working for you. Stop caring so much, kill your (ego-driven) goals and give up. Here’s another great resource: How to Organize Mental Clutter.
- Reconnect. Most of our ambitions for the New Years are centered around ourselves, but they don’t all have to be. Maybe you want to make your resolution to spend more time with your partner or your kids. Maybe you want to create a better relationship with your parents. Or perhaps you just want to dissolve a grudge you’ve been holding against someone. Now is a good time to forgive and forget.
- Be more romantic. With all our goals surrounding our careers, productivity, and health, it’s easy to put romance on the back burner. Too easy, if you ask me. A few ways to jump start your ideas for rekindling romance might be: giving your lover love coupons, spending more quality time together and dating your partner more often. Even if it just means going out for coffee or watching a movie on the couch together. Here are some more great ideas to get you started.
- Reboot your bank account. During the holidays are spending can spiral out of control. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to buy really cool gifts (well, except for this gift) for everyone you love. So after the season ends, it’s a great time to reevaluate where your money is going. Here are a few ideas to get you started: create a debt snowball, create an emergency fund, or develop the habit of being frugal.
- Cash-in your passion. Here’s a great exercise to start off the new year: Take out a paper and draw a line down the middle. Mark the first side as column a, mark the other side column b. Look over your bank account for the past 30 days and write down all your non-essential purchases in column a. This includes things like unneeded spending on clothes, lattes, junk food, renting movies, entertainment, gadgets, CDs, etc. Don’t include things such as rent/mortgage, utility and phone bills. Now in column b write down all the things you’d like to have money for to pursue things you’re passionate about. This might be thing like dance lessons, tai chi or yoga classes, a pottery workshop, an industry conference, a mountain bike, you get the idea. Try to see what you can remove from column a to make more room for the things in column b.
- Maintain the chain. There are so many fitness goals and programs you can get into. If you live anywhere like I do, the guys from 24 Hour Fitness are on the corner downtown recruiting people like gangbusters. With all these fitness routines and exercises you can find, it’s hard to see through the noise. A simplified resolution is to create an exercise chain and all you need is a calendar. Now for the month of January make a pact to exercise every day. Each day you exercise, you put an X through that day on calendar. Your job is to not break the chain. I’ve personally found this to be an awesome motivator because you can see all the progress you’ve made and it would hurt too much to break the chain.
- Tap the troupe. It’s easy to fall off the wagon when you’re going it alone. If you join a local fitness group, you’ll have others that will hold you accountable. Meetup.com is a really awesome place to find local meetups in your area. It’s super easy to join and most of the groups are free. Just sign up and search for fitness groups in your neck of the woods.
- Automate your answer. A lot of the time we hold ourselves back because we don’t have enough information, or we don’t know where to start. Instead of letting “I don’t know” hold you back, put yourself on the auto-response “I’ll figure it out.” Imagine what you could do if you did this. You might be able to have the guts to start that business you’ve been dreaming about. You could write that novel you’ve been planning. Or could you take that trip around the world you’ve been dying for. Make your resolution to not let not knowing where to start keep your from taking action.
- Vaporize virtual living. In the age of email, twitter, social media, instant messaging, text messaging and screen to face, it’s hard not to get caught up in living virtually. While there’s nothing necessarily harmful or wrong with these things, it’s easy to forget the value of real live interaction. You know, actually talking to someone in person. Whatever method you choose to connect, a good New Years resolution might be to simply connect more. Not in quantity, but quality.
What are your plans for the 09? Do you have any good tips for starting off the New Year right?
NOTICE: Tomorrow we will announce THE POWER OF LESS NEW YEAR’S CHALLENGE! It’s a free 30-day challenge where you will form a new habit in just 10 minutes a day. The Challenge will help motivate you and keep you accountable, so you can start the New Year off right!
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