Isn’t it funny how much pressure we put on ourselves at the beginning of a new year to all of a sudden change something about ourselves completely cold turkey, expecting it to 1) work and 2) make us happier?
We give so much importance to ONE day. Life might be pretty much the same, the weather might be pretty much the same, but for some reason, that date on the calendar is made to signify so much that we feel it imperative to make a huge shift, perhaps with little to no preparation for what it might really mean.
It is well known that New Year’s resolutions seldom work out (80% of people do not keep them). So how about we consider something different for this year’s transition from 2019 into 2020?
I like to create what I call a joy practice. A joy practice is your own custom set of daily actions or habits that you have chosen to make time for, because when you do so, your days are better. You experience more JOY in your life. You have something to fall back on when stress rises or new parenting challenges come along with your child’s most recent developmental milestone. You in to give this a try, mama?
Here are the five steps to nailing your joy practice — and putting those New Year’s resolutions behind you:
Make a list of your top ten values.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Each person has her own, and no one person’s values are better than the next person’s. Some examples are: family, faith, community, friendship, honesty, beauty, wellness.
Once you have your list, rank them by order of importance and choose three to five that you will work with to create your daily joy practice.
Define the importance of your top values.
Ask yourself (and journal on this if possible — after all, you’re trying to make a meaningful plan for 2020 here, one that you will be able to successfully implement): Why are these values so important to you? What do they mean to you? In what ways are you able to honor those values? And when you honor those values, what does that feel like (notice I asked what it feels like and not how; answer with an actual emotion if you can).
Brainstorm a plan for your joy practice.
What are some things you can do briefly — either when you first wake up, smack in the middle of the day, or right before bed — that might help you feel what you described above? Write a few of these down. Some examples might be waking up a bit earlier and doing a short meditation or prayer, going for a walk, having a five-minute dance party, journaling, or reading.
Try to choose practices that might help you honor your top values. For example, you might try meditation because it could help you be more present with your children, and family is a top value of yours. Start slowly. You do not want to commit to too much or it will backfire. But it is OK to have a list of ideas and commit to trying one or two at a time. Give each chosen practice at least a two-week trial period before moving on to something else.
Reflect on what is working and what needs to go.
After two weeks of trying the first practices, give yourself permission to keep what works and let go of what does not work. If things are going great, consider adding another practice, or what I call an emergency shot of JOY — something to rescue you from a moment of overwhelm. Maybe you can add reminder affirmations to your phone’s background or sticky notes with a reassuring message where you can access them easily. Or maybe you implement a breathing practice to stop yourself from losing your patience with your kids around the evening/dinner/bedtime hours. Again, your choice. And let go of anything you have either completely forgotten to do in the last two weeks or that clearly did not work for you.
And last, repeat as needed.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, mama. This is just a guideline that I hope can take some of the pressure off New Year’s resolutions and start you on a path to more fulfillment and joy in 2020. Give it a good college try, and if it is not for you, then stop. But if it helps, revisit it every time you need a fresh practice to get back on track. I know a lot changes throughout the year — the seasons, my HORMONES (!), and whatever my kids are going through, to name a few. In the same way, our joy practice can evolve. And you have permission to let it do just that.
Wishing you a better, more joyful 2020!