With January almost behind us, I’ve been starting to think about which of my annual goals and intentions I want to chip away at in February. As I’ve said before, the new year is always one of my favourite times because it feels intuitive to start with a clean slate. But there’s absolutely no reason to wait as long as a year to feel this way, which is what inspired today’s list of 10 ways to make a fresh start every month.
Think of this as an ideas buffet, rather than a to-do list. (I know another to-do list is the last thing you need!) Take what sounds good, give it a try, and if you like it, come back for more!
1. Declutter and donate.
This is something I scheduled in my calendar every month at the beginning of 2018 after having felt so great about doing it every season. We have a way of accumulating a LOT of material possessions, some that truly make us happy and some that just take up space and have no meaning. That decision is different for everyone, but there’s no harm in doing a regular comb through the month’s accumulations.
As an added bonus, you’ll feel even better knowing that others in need are going to benefit. That could be from one of your old sweaters that they love, a shirt that never fit you quite right, an appliance you never use, or non-perishable food items that somehow made their way into your kitchen.
2. Reflect on your struggles and wins.
One of the podcasts in my usual list of weekly listens is the Chasing Joy Podcast with Georgie Morley, who also writes the blog In It For The Long Run. I could go on for ages about why Georgie is amazing, but one of my favourite things about her podcast is her vulnerability and sense of humour when sharing her weekly struggle and win. She shares one of each, sometimes light and sometimes more profound.
Whether you want to pick a struggle and a win, or several, I think this is an important practice that helps us to course correct and celebrate growth. If you notice that your struggles are ones you anticipate having again, think about how you can work on or overcome them, and consider including those actions in your monthly goals.
3. Review your spending.
I don’t looooove doing this, but also appreciate that ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to finances. Technology has made buying so frictionless, so I’m making an effort to be better about keeping my finances in check all year round – not just reviewing at the end of the year when I need to get things ready for tax time.
PS: If the thought of money management sounds daunting and boring to you, don’t worry – when I share my goals for February next week, I’ll also share how I’ve been making this fun.
4. Schedule a few fun plans with friends to look forward to.
Research shows that people with stronger social connections live longer. You’d think that with that having been proven several times over by scientific studies, we’d be making an effort to nurture more relationships. Yet in today’s eyes-on-our-phones society, we often use texts and social media comments as a substitute for real in-person connection.
Instead, schedule a few fun get-togethers with friends throughout the next month so that you (and they) can reap the full longevity benefits. I’ll bet that’ll probably involve laughing too, which we can all use more of!
5. Pick something new to learn about.
One of the quickest ways to fall into a rut is to do the same thing day in and out, wandering around in your comfort zone and never opening your mind to anything new. While not necessarily the case back when you were in school, you now have the luxury of picking learning topics that genuinely interest you.
Maybe you could pick something you’ve always been curious about, something that seems to be trendy (perhaps adaptogens or ketosis if you’re into nutrition), or something totally random. Dedicate as much time as you want and explore whatever you can find on that topic. My favourite learning method is podcasts because I can multitask and listen to them anywhere, but you can also learn pretty much anything on Youtube, or platforms like Skillshare, LearnItLive and lynda.com.
6. Consider building new/enhanced habit stacks.
A few weeks ago I talked about habit stacking and using small daily actions to form habits that help you reach goals faster. If you’ve already got small habit stacks that have been working well, consider adding another little action onto those until it becomes a new habit.
(Note that the goal of this isn’t to make you go through an entire laundry list of little actions and make enormous stacks, but just to help you turn actions that support your goals into habits that don’t require a ton of effort because they become routine.)
7. Wash your sheets.
It’s the little things, right? I LOVE the feeling of crawling into my fresh, crisp white sheets at night, their clean smell, and the nice brightness they add to my apartment. There’s also the added benefit of not having old residue on your pillowcase clogging up your pores. None of us have time for breakouts!
8. Give something a deep cleaning.
Or a light cleaning. Or whatever you have time for. It could be your house, your gym bag, your purse, pantry, fridge (#adulting), or bathtub. I live in an apartment that is less than 500 square feet in size, so while it’s quick to clean it’s also very quick to get messy. I definitely start to feel mentally cluttered when my physical space isn’t clear, so this is one of my favourite things to do to re-energize myself and proactively boost productivity.
If your whole house sounds overwhelming, you could also try picking one room per day to tackle over the next week, dedicating as little as 15 minutes to each. Or, if you want to tackle your work bag, do it on Sunday night before you start the week. Coming from the girl who carries at least 5 lip balms in her purse, I think you’ll notice a (literally) big weight lifted from your shoulders!
9. Give your body some pampering TLC.
Get a hair cut. Book a massage. Do a face mask. Paint your nails. Shave those legs. (Come on, admit it: you let them get a little out of hand in the winter.) Whatever makes you feel put together, do at least a few of those things to help you get ready to take on a fresh month with confidence and positivity. When you feel good about yourself, it’s visible to others and radiates out of you.
On that note, think about how you can do those self care things in smaller amounts each week to keep that feel-good energy going. A scented candle with relaxing music at dinner, slathering yourself in some coconut oil or almond oil after a shower, a mid-weeknight face mask – these are all tiny efforts but they all add up.
10. Remind yourself of your annual goals and set a few for the next month.
Last but not least, check back on those goals you set for the year and figure out what you’ll do to move closer to them next month. You could do this in a journal, with a friend, or in your head if that works for you. As you guys know, I like to pick around 3 things to focus on but do what feels manageable for you. Write them down and/or stick them somewhere you’ll remember to look. I put mine in a note on my phone and they often come up in conversations with friends, so it’s hard to forget about what I need to put my energy into.
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