Milestones are markers that you’re evolving—they do not create emotional fulfillment in the way we think they will. This confusion is why with the dawn of each new year, our resolutions are to change our lives rather than to change ourselves. But what if we made goals that were more about loving what we have rather than chasing what we don’t? What if we realized that it’s what we were seeking in the first place? It’s something to consider—if not even try just a little. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Wiest, Brianna. 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think (Kindle Locations 1202-1206). Thought Catalog Books. Kindle Edition.
1. Pick up where you left off. Finish the half-read books on your shelf. Eat what’s in the cupboard. Wear what you own in ways you never thought of before. Apologize and mean it. Call old friends. Revisit old projects. Try other routes.
2. Seek out ways to appreciate the way people are, not the way you want them to be. It is not your job to judge who is deserving of your love and kindness. It is not your job to fix anybody. It is only your job to love them, in whatever way is appropriate. You are not anybody else’s god.
3. Make time for the friends you have more than you seek out the ones you don’t. Stop counting how many people are in your life as though to hitting a certain tally will make you feel loved. Start appreciating how rare and beautiful it is to even just have one close friend in a life. Not everybody is so lucky.
4. Each day, write down one thing your body allowed you to do. Whether it was watching your favorite show or listening to the sounds on the street on the way to work or being able to see a computer screen or hug someone you love, focus on what your body does more than what it looks like doing it.
5. Learn to love things that don’t cost much. Learn to love simple food and cooking it, being outside, the company of a friend, going for walks, watching the sunrise, a full night’s sleep, a good day’s work.
6. On January 1, start a “journal of days” where you write down a sentence or two to sum up each day of your year. The reason keeping up with a journal is only sustainable for a week or so is that nobody has the time (or energy) to thoughtfully or extensively detail their everyday lives. Yet, we miss out on the incredible opportunity to see how far we’ve come, and what our lives are ultimately comprised of when we fail to – so make it easy for yourself. Just write down one sentence that sums up the day before bed. In a year, you’ll be grateful you did.
7. Find meaning and joy in the work you do, not the work you wish you did. Finding fulfillment in work is never about pursuing your idea of what your “purpose” is. It is always about infusing purpose into whatever it is you already do.
8. Start your own holiday traditions. Make the most special days of the year reflect who you are and what you love and how you want to celebrate your life.
9. Do a “spend cleanse” where you only use what you have for a period of time. At once, teach yourself the art of denying immediate gratification for the sake of something more important, and show yourself that you already have everything you need, or at least, more than you think you do (even when it doesn’t feel like it).
10. Give everything you own a “home,” it is essentially the key to feeling at peace in your space. Go through your belongings and only keep what’s purposeful or beautiful to you – and then assign each of those things a “home,” or a space to return to each night. It makes maintaining flow in your space effortless and calming.
11. Learn to live within your means – no matter how much money you make, your “percentage habits” will remain the same. If you’re in the habit of seeing all of the income you make as “spending money” (as opposed to investing money, saving money, etc.) you will always revert to that habit, no matter how much you make. It is only by learning to live comfortably within your means as they are that you’re able to actually achieve your goals when you earn more.
12. Call your mom. Not everybody has the privilege.
13. Aspire to be someone who gives things meaning, not who seeks things to give them meaning. Rather than chasing “success,” chase kindness. Rather than believe wealth is the mark of a life well lived, believe that intelligence is, or kindness is, or open-mindedness is.
14. Do the most important things immediately in the morning. Give your energy to what matters most, when you have the most of it. It also helps you define what really matters to you.
15. Shed what no longer serves you. Teach yourself to let go of the big things by learning to let go of the little ones. It is easier to bypass thoughts and emotions that are negative in nature when you’re able to release belongings and objects with negative associations.
16. Pace yourself – if at any point you’re doing anything in which you cannot feel your breath, you’re moving too fast. Make physical relaxation a priority – no matter what you’re doing. Keep track of your breath, at all times. Be mindful, present and intentional with everything you do. It is not the quantity of what we accomplish, but the quality of it.