If you know me, then you probably know I’m a big fan of setting intentions. Do I hate goals? Absolutely not. In fact, I set goals for myself all the time. But for me, goals are trackable, concrete things. They’re the actions that create the outcomes I want, which is why I love setting intentions.
For me, intentions are things that I want to integrate into my daily life. They’re habits I want to adopt, but instead of creating a heavy structure or rule set, I treat them more like guidelines. Why? Because I’m more likely to do them. The worst part about goals is the waiting. Waiting to feel ready. Waiting to set goals until everything feels right — despite the fact that it probably never will — and losing out because you never start. With intentions, why not start today? Why not start right now? There’s no hesitating, no preparation, and no reason to wait.
So if you still want to make 2020 a great year, here are some of my favorite intentions that you can start incorporating into your routine now, and set the tone for the rest of the year (and the decade).
1. Move more.
Y’all — if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m anti-diet culture. However, you might also notice that I am very pro-movement. What’s the difference? So many New Year’s Resolutions revolve around losing weight and fitting into what society tells us is the “perfect” appearance (and I happen to think that you get to decide what your ideal body is), and that’s a lot of pressure. We don’t need to look a certain way to be happy or to do what we want, and — if we keep waiting for that to happen — then we’ll never truly be satisfied.
I’m a huge believer in bringing play and movement back into our lives.
In our modern culture, it’s far too easy to live a predominantly sedentary existence. I spend hours every day sitting at my computer (hi, hello, right now), and this lack of movement isn’t just bad for our physical health — it’s can also harm our mental health.
I don’t think exercise is a cure-all, but I do think it’s a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to making 2020 a fantastic year, which is why I use the words ‘movement’ and ‘play’ instead of ‘crushing it at the gym.’ It’s not about torturing yourself into doing something you don’t want to do (i.e. sprints on the treadmill), it’s about finding something you actually enjoy doing.
Whether that’s walking your dogs, hitting a punching bag, or dancing to K-Pop in your bedroom, you get to decide what types of play you want to engage in. Sometimes you won’t feel up to it, but I encourage you to learn the difference between when you need to take a break (like if you’re sick or injured) and when you need to push through (when you’re feeling a little bit sad and could use the endorphins.) It’s difficult, but it will be a major game-changer in your daily life.
2. Be minimal-ish.
I’m a baby minimalist, meaning I’m still learning how to pair down my belongings and stop spending money on random stuff. But while I’m interested in diving headfirst into minimalism, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for everyone else. However, I do think there are elements of minimalism that you should absolutely start to adapt — especially as we move into a new decade.
Learn to embrace your inner Marie Kondo, and start letting go of things that no longer spark joy in your life. Whether that’s knick-knacks you’ve been hoarding in your closet for the past decade, clothes you haven’t worn in years, or that DVD collection that you rarely use thanks to Netflix — less is more. It’s hard to start letting go of material possessions (especially when we have a tendency in our society to equate belongings with success), but it’s so worth it.
Before 2020 starts, I want to challenge you to make space for new things in your life. Resist the urge to buy things just because they’re on sale, and start learning to do mindful shopping — choosing a handful of quality items that will last versus a ton of things that constantly need to be replaced — so you can surround yourself with things that you actually like and cherish.
3. Worry less.
Did you know that the average person spends 80% of their time focused on either regret about the past or anxiety over the future? When I saw that statistic, it blew me away. I’ve always been a major worrier (thanks, anxiety), but I’m starting to recognize just how much of a time-waster it can be.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to be prepared. I take self-defense classes because I like feeling strong and capable should the worst happen, but I don’t spend hours every single day imagining it. Why? Because I wouldn’t be able to function.
All of that extra worry and stress can be debilitating. It can leave you feeling paralyzed and unable to focus, which can throw a major wrench in your life goals. That means, if you want to make 2020 a great year, it’s important to learn how to manage your stress and anxiety so you control it. Not vice versa.
4. Start meditating.
Here’s the thing about meditation. Chances are you’ve seen or heard about how amazing it can be. It’s one of those things that is constantly on lists of the habits of high achievers or top CEOs, but we still tend to write it off.
I get why. Honestly, I do. Silent meditation isn’t easy or particularly pleasant, and in a society that over-values the hustle, it can be hard to give yourself permission to spend 10 minutes doing nothing. However, there’s a reason why everyone talks about how amazing meditation is.
That’s because it’s actually that amazing.
If you’re new to meditation or struggling to incorporate it into your daily practice, try starting small. Guided meditation is easier than silent meditation, and you can start with a 2–3 minute video on YouTube before gradually working up to longer sessions. After all, you wouldn’t jump into running a marathon without any training, would you?
Plus, the science behind meditation is phenomenal. Studies suggest that meditation helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve your attention span, combat memory loss, improve sleep, and even help control pain. Who doesn’t want all of that goodness in 2020?
5. Learn something new.
Here’s the thing — learning is actually really good for you. We exercise to keep our bodies healthy and active, but learning is just as important (if not more so). Why? Because learning does the same thing for your brain.
Not only does learning new things mean we’re always growing and improving as individuals it’s also great for keeping our brains sharp. One study showed that people who learned a new skill or hobby didn’t just keep their brains healthy, it actually helped improve their memory.
Plus, the more we step outside our comfort zone and learn new things, the more comfortable we start to become with risk. It can be scary but risk almost always necessary for success. If you want to experience exponential growth, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a great place to start.
6. Get enough sleep.
Seriously though, how many of you actually get the daily recommended amount of sleep? Anyone? More often than not, I find myself skimping on sleep — and it’s definitely not a good habit to take with you into the new decade.
Sleep isn’t just about your physical health either. Getting enough sleep can play a major role in improving and maintaining your mental health as well. Sleep gives your brain and body time to heal and recover, and getting enough sleep can act as a “reset button” for your brain.
Most adults need 7–9 hours of sleep every night, but the quality of sleep matters too. This means reducing screen time before bed, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, and practicing good sleep habits. It might seem trivial, but getting quality sleep can serve as a foundation upon which you can build your dream life.
7. Go green.
Nope, this isn’t about eating your veggies (although that’s pretty important too). As climate change continues to dominate the headlines, it’s important for us as consumers to recognize our own role in contributing to global warming — and the need for us to take action.
Yes, big corporations and governments need to act in order to combat climate change, but we as consumers hold a lot of power in our hands. Or, more specifically, our bank accounts and voting booths.
There are a lot of small but significant ways we can begin to combat climate change on an individual level, especially if more households around the world start to take these actions. Many of these options are free or low-cost — including driving less/carpooling, walking more, taking shorter showers, turning off lights and electronic devices when not in use — so why not make the switch?
Other ways you can reduce your carbon footprint include reducing air travel, decreasing meat and dairy consumption, and encouraging your elected officials to vote for green initiatives. (Fun fact: reducing your consumption of animal protein in half helps cut your diet’s carbon footprint by over 40%.)
I know what you might be thinking. How does this impact 2020? And why do my actions as an individual matter?
When people see their friends, neighbors, and family members taking action to combat climate change, they’re more likely to start taking action themselves.
Climate change impacts all of us (especially younger generations), and while we might not see the impact in 2020, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s better to take action now to ensure a safe and happy future for everyone versus ignoring a problem until it’s too late.
Whether you start working on one or all of these habits, remember that your future is in your hands. If you want to make 2020 a great year, you decide what that looks like and whether or not you’re willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
Originally published at http://jandralee.com on December 12, 2019.