Put your hand up if someone’s asked you what you’re giving up for Lent. Is anyone still hanging onto their New Year’s Resolutions? Can you remember your New Year’s Resolutions?
While I’m all for the motivation that comes through this tribal sense of “We must do something now”, I don’t notice that it affects any long-term change. Being lazy is relaxing. Being a glutton is delightful. And being a hedon is loads of fun. So instead of trying to stuff yourself into an uncomfortable mold of the better you, which inevitably won’t stick, here are some me-tested methods that are much easier to integrate:
Choose Better Quality Lazy Behaviors
Let me drop a truth bomb on you, and I think you’ll be quick to agree – Ain’t no one forcing us to be active when we want to be passive. Why run when you can walk? Walk when you can stand? Stand when you can sit…
But, with infinite options at our immediate disposal through streaming apps like Netflix or Hulu, if we are really going to lie down and do nothing, we have numerous quality options available. No, I don’t mean you should be watching non-stop historical documentaries (though I won’t stop you), but when you have the option to watch that “classic” film you never caught from the 1980s, the latest season of “Stranger Things”, a fun DIY YouTuber… or Season 57 of Real Housewives of Some City or Another, you HAVE options. Cuddle under your blankets and pick something, but remember. You have limited time. Rest is good for the soul, so use your rest time wisely.
The same goes for reading. We could all scroll endlessly through the garbage across the interwebs, but sometimes it’s better to detox from the digital onslaught of endless nonsense called your Facebook feed and pickup an actual BOOK. Trust me: I’m much more satisfied after a season where I see a number of books that actual were read cover-to-cover than one where I haven’t read a thing. I have many ways of finding new books – I read a lot of nonfiction on whatever my interest du jour is (past topics: North Korea, Astrology, “van life”), and I think there are always new lists coming out with titles like “Best Books for Summer”, “Best Books for Women”, “Best Mysteries”. You’ve seen those lists! And they have good recommendations! While I’d limit the trash tv, actively engaging your mind through reading puts at least one point in the “pros” column for reading even the trashiest of novels.
Find a “quiet time” hobby. I’m sure, as a child, you liked to do crafts or tell ghost stories or play games. Perhaps, now that you’re grown up, you can channel this into knitting or blogging or boardgame nights.
Permit That One Vice
Red meat. Alcohol. High-fructose corn syrup. Aspartame. Kardashians. Cheese.
You know you love something that’s no good for you, and with how accessible it all is, being a total queen or king of perfect health is a near-impossible ideal. And as long as it’s not terrible for you, feel free to permit that one little vice a place in your life. While we certainly would all love to switch from coffee to green tea, theoretically, a cup of coffee each morning isn’t going to kill you. And being just a little unhealthy isn’t going to kill you.
Granted, everything in moderation. Be honest with yourself. If you are labelling nightly binge-drinking, hard drug use or even daily cigarette-smoking as “simply a vice”, you are clearly selling yourself on a lie.
It’s too much to attempt to commit to perfection, so by permitting yourself treats and cheats (but not ALL the treats, and not CONSTANT cheats), you will find more balance.
Do One Thing Every Month You’ve Never Done Before
This is my MANTRA. It’s infrequent enough that it’s manageable, but frequent enough that it is constantly forcing me to seek and plan. It’s vague enough that I can still check small, manageable things off (e.g. spa day with my friends or watching the year’s “Oscar Nominated Short Films”) amidst much bigger things (skydive or travel Africa for a month). It keeps me short-term focused. It keeps me actively researching what is being offered in my local community, reaching out to my friends or family to make plans, and gets me REALLY EXCITED for my immediate future. Every time I complete something, not only have I enjoyed the experience, I feel accomplished.
Try a new restaurant or cuisine. Attend a local theater production or concert or comedy show. Go to a museum. Plan a weekend trip. Sign up for a class. Paint with a Twist. Climb a mountain (or walk near one). Go wine-tasting. Escape a room. Search your local Groupon or your city’s Tripadvisor or Viator for accessible outside-the-box ideas.
Make this mantra your own. Do one thing a month… with your Significant Other. Lady friends. Kids. Family of Origin. By yourself. (how’s that for terrifying?)
The options are literally ENDLESS.
I began this as a New Year’s Resolution in 2012, and though I have missed a couple months (though I do try to make up for them in a HUGE way), I feel constantly having, “What will be my (insert month) thing be?” keeps me challenged in a really fun way.
Living a better life shouldn’t be about pushing yourself beyond reasonable limits. Don’t make life about attempting to fit into an impossibly perfect mold, only to set yourself up for failure. Make minor adjustments, and you will find that your “downtime” reaps significantly more rewards.