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What are Your Goals this New Year?

Hand written phrase and so the adventure begins

I recently read a quote on Instagram encouraging us to acknowledge last year’s successes, (however minor), before shouldering the burden of New Year’s resolutions.  In honesty, I do find that goal-setting this time of year tends to focus in on “not-enoughness.”  By beginning in this mindset of lack, we often create expectations that, again, set us up to fall short.  

In the face of a million social media how-to-live-well strategies, what if we elect to pare back?  Is it possible to add small changes in small parcels? Can we grow these small parcels into habits that serve us rather than quick-fix resolutions we abandon?   

Rather than attempt to chase perfection on January 1, are you able to label your goals this year as “Stepping into What Lights Me Up?”   Take a moment to explore with me.  You might get some ideas on what is important to you in the new year.

Books bound in white paper with handwriting on spine

Food For Thought

1. books

I have lived a thousand lives and I have loved a thousand loves.  I’ve walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time……Because I read. ~ George R.R. Martin

Whether you prefer fiction, non-fiction, romance, biography, horror, science fiction, or how-to manuals; there is reading material for you.  Beyond the pleasure a book brings, there are also health benefits associated with reading.

The South African College of Psychology states: “Reading has been shown to put our brains into a state similar to meditation. In doing so, reading brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers have been shown to have lower stress levels and decreased rates of depression compared to non-readers. “

Psychology Today also mentions that:  “Reading is associated with living longer: One study found that older adults who regularly read books had a 20 percent reduction in mortality compared to those who did not read.”  I’ve provided links above to both articles if you’d like to learn more.

So, why not make a goal to pick up a book this new year and enjoy the simple benefits of a good story?

I can recommend a new thriller titled “Blood Sisters” by Vanessa Lillie.  It’s a great mystery about a Cherokee archeologist who is summoned to rural Oklahoma to investigate the disappearance of two women…one of them her sister.  It will keep you guessing and surprise you!  This book also makes brief mention of a Three Sister’s Garden (corn, bean, and squash planted together). I’m inspired to make this concept a garden addition in the spring!

Corn rows in field
2. experiments

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. ~ Pablo Picasso

If you learn a new skill, either at work or play, you’ll benefit either way.  The University of California, Berkeley reports that curious people are happier.  Research has shown curiosity to be associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, as well as greater psychological well-being.   A more recent article by the BBC touts curiosity as the neglected trait that drives success.

What would you like to explore in the New Year?  An instrument? A creative process? An activity?  I’ve learned through research for this blog that there is a ton of good information available to get you started on just about any topic you’re curious about.  You can experiment on your own, take a class or learn from someone who has mastered the subject.  If you are opting for free content on the internet; do your research so you can trust the author.

This past year, among other things, I learned how to make my own vanilla extract.  It was a rewarding goal and I will continue to experiment with different varieties of vanilla beans.  This Christmas, I was gifted with a jar of vanilla sugar crafted from beans removed from the extract after the infusion process was complete.  Now I’m curious again!

Freshly filled bottles for DIY Vanilla Infusion/Extract
Vanilla Extract - Finished Bottle
Homemade Vanilla Sugar in Jar next to Rattan Christmas Tree Star

Body Shoppe

3. clean and simple eating

When you start eating food without labels, you no longer need to count calories. ~ Amanda Kraft

Are you weary of the dieting cycle?  I always go in hopeful and then feel like I’m breaking promises.  What if we implement a small change that is sustainable?  Food tastes good!  We like food!  How about we shift just a little and lean into avoiding ultra-processed foods?  These are the stereotypical pre-packaged junk foods that can include items like:  snack foods, packaged breads and cereals, processed meats, condiments and candy.  Perhaps we allow ourselves the snack or dessert, but only if it is homemade or packaged with whole ingredients that we know and can trust.  The goal would be to eliminate preservatives and additives as much as we can.  That creates a new foundation to celebrate and that is easy build upon in the future.

I’m now trying to purchase as many whole foods as I can.  I very much like farmer’s markets and vendors who sell locally grown vegetables, fruits and meats for pickup or online.  It’s important to get to know your vendors.  You will learn so much!  My husband and I have been experimenting in the kitchen and its fun and satisfying to try new dishes with their healthy and nutritious ingredients.  My husband has been a fan of Jamie Oliver’s 5-Ingredient Cookbook for it’s simple yet tasty recipes.  I recommended  America’s Test Kitchen Mediterranean Cookbook last January and still stand by it! 

Jamie Oliver 5-Ingredient Cookbook Content Page
Countertop with Fresh Vegetables
Mediterranean Cookbook
4. walking

Walking brings me back to myself ~ Laurette Mortimer

Harvard Medical School acknowledges that most of us understand any exercise can enhance our overall health.  They point out, however, that walking provides a host of benefits, including:  counteracting weight-promoting genes, taming a sweet tooth, reducing risk of breast cancer, easing joint pain and boosting immune function. 

If you’d like to establish another sustainable building block, add in a daily walk.  My healthcare company recently instituted an earning-incentive program for walking 5,000 – 10,000 steps a day using a fitness tracker to log progress.  I have to admit, it was the earning incentive that lured me in, but the results have been amazing!  I typically walk the 10K steps a day.  I started walking daily just before the Thanksgiving Holiday and have lost 10 pounds!  Not only that, I find that my attention span, motivation, and clarity have improved.  

This motivated me to research the benefits of walking 10,000 steps per day.  The research backed me up!  I was surprised to find several articles on it.  For one, the Kansas University Medical Center reports that 10,000 steps might be the “magic pill” everyone is seeking.  If you’re like me and need a little incentive, schedule walk time to listen to your favorite podcast.

Fitbit on wrist with sweatshirt sleeve
Close up of woman's ankle, jeans and sneakers on walk

Soul Purpose

5. mentors

You’re going to fascinate the world when you start fascinating yourself. ~ Tonya Leigh

I’ve spent a good deal of time learning tech and marketing while putting this blog together.  If you are in a similar situation, it’s important to have mentors to help you along the way.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a mentor when you don’t know what you don’t know.  Here’s a little inside info though:  most every single blog mentor will offer some type of free coaching, podcast or masterclass. Take them!  Learn!   Again, these serve as small, sustainable building blocks to your end goal.  After sampling the free materials, you can decide if there is someone you want to invest your time and dollars in to move you forward.  A few I can suggest are:

Outside of blogging life, I recommended Tonya Leigh and the School of Self-Image last year and I still highly recommend her this year.  I have a paid membership that allows me to access an amazing amount of content.  You can, however, get on their mailing list to receive free weekly newsletters and a podcast episode.  The pillars of this coaching program are Mindset, Style, and Surroundings.  It’s a great community to be a part of and a strong resource for goal-setting.  (And, I’m not receiving anything for recommending the program!)  You can use the link above to get on their mailing list if you’d like to learn more.

Closeup of white desk with keyboard pens and pad
Contents of purse on white background
6. inspiration

Horses are honest.  They live in the moment.  And whether they need to protect themselves or whether they need to accept you really is directly relative to how you make them feel. ~ Buck Brannaman

Maybe I should have included these two characters under mentors rather than inspiration; but they are both.  If you have partnered up with a pet, don’t discount the value of the role they play in your well-being.  I currently have two beloved animals in my life.  One is a Belgian/Quarter Horse Cross named Hercules and the other is a Golden Retriever named Cali.  Being with them takes me out of my busy brain and places me right into the present moment.

When I am with Hercules, my goal is to be present.  If you are not present with a horse, at best, you may miss out on a little magic.  At worst, it’s an unexpected train wreck.  I’ve learned from Hercules to be quiet in my mind and my body, to observe and to listen.  He’s taught me a silent, private dance.  And, I’m not talking about riding in the saddle.  Being in his presence, I’ve learned to tune into and respond to a breath, to detect an almost imperceptible shift in stance or demeanor, to respect acceptance or an aversion.  More often than not, we are engaged in a conversation of quiet body language that no one else is aware of.  To be allowed into his world, on his terms, is an honor.  I’ve learned a great deal about humility and integrity from him.

Cali, on the other hand brings out my playful side.  And, again, if I’m not right there, I could miss it.  A twitch, a side-glance, a subtle dare and game’s on.  It is innocent, pure fun!  She’s also a great walking companion (and a reason to do so), and the absolute best cuddler I know.  The American Psychiatric Association tells us:  “The animals we bring into our lives and our families play many roles from non-judgmental companions that we love to key partners in reducing our stress and anxiety. Our relationships with our pets can have noticeable benefits for our overall mental health.”

Nurture and nature.  They go hand-in-hand.  

Horses in field
Young golden retriever laying on white sofa

Bonus Section

7. surroundings

Progress, not perfection.  You can do anything for 15 minutes. ~ Marla Cilley

This is another area we focus on in the New Year.  As we pack away the holidays, we promise to clean and declutter.  Many times, we only make it as far as the promise.  This is a perfectionism problem.  If we don’t have the time to put everything in it’s place or a place available to put everything, the result is procrastination and delay. 

Could we set aside perfectionism for a moment and focus on small goals for manageable, incremental change in our home spaces?  What if these incremental changes are the building blocks for better habits and better living?  Could you start with one drawer?  One rack, instead of the entire closet?  Can you celebrate that? Maintain it?  Select another small, manageable task?  Feel great about each accomplishment, gain confidence, and continue steadily without overwhelm?

Pick one small thing and let it lead to another!

Cleaning kit tote with soaps, sponge and brush
Minimal white kitchen with wood and black accents
8. unique pieces

Trends come and go, and style evolves.  It’s important to have pieces ( . . .)  that are timeless.  ~ Karen Elson

As you declutter, make it a goal to curate what you truly love.  What you display in your home speaks to your personality; visually represents who you are.  If you are able to part with the items you don’t use and truly don’t care for, attention will be placed on the things that make you feel “at home.”  This is a great time to mention that sometimes we hang onto possessions, not because we truly like them, but because  we associate them with someone or something that is important to us.  I promise you, letting go of an item does not mean you are letting go of the person or event you treasure.   

Items that make me feel “at home” in our house are my husband’s woodworking pieces.  We have some of his furniture, and most recently, we’ve added these hand-carved walnut bowls.  His work is unique, curated, and speaks to who we are. 

Think about the choices you’ll to make this year in your home.  What should be on display?

Hand Carved Walnut Tray on Muslin Runner
Hand carved walnut bowl on grey countertop

As I leave you today, I hope that you will consider what lights you up and what small, sustainable additions you can make to your goals list this year!  Let me know in the comments what your adventure will look like!

Related Post

If you’d like to look at last year’s thoughts; I still stand by them!

Feed Your Mind Body and Soul


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