advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! One shovelful at a time

We had a giant snowstorm here yesterday, around 50 cm/20 inches, and as I looked out at the snow this morning, I was reminded of one of my favourite writing analogies and I realized that the analogy works just as well for habit-building as it does for writing.

Lots of times when people want to start writing, or revising, they get caught up in trying to do the whole thing at once. I mean, if we stopped to think about it, we’d know it’s impossible but mostly we don’t even realize what we are trying to do.

So, when I realize that I am making that mistake with my writing (or that my client/student is making it) I compare the process to having a driveway full of snow and expecting to be able to shovel it all at once. (If the person hasn’t had that experience, I compare it to having a huge pile of laundry to fold,)

I think we often do that ‘try to do it all at once’ thing for habit building, too. We may not realize that we are trying to develop the whole habit in one go but if we are overloading ourselves with exercises, putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, or hoping for immediate results, we are probably falling into that trap.

If you look at a driveway full of snow (or a huge pile of clean laundry), you know very well that you can’t just clear it all away at once. And you know that you can’t dig out the front steps at the same time as you are digging the bottom of your driveway. You have to choose a place to start and clear it away one shovelful at a time until it is done.

If you are trying to build a habit (or if you are planning to write or to revise something), it’s like having that driveway full of snow. You aren’t going to be able to just do all of it at once, you have to pick a place to start and keep plugging away at it until it is done.

In your driveway, you might use a shovel, you might use a scoop, you might use a snowblower, or you might use a plow on the front of your vehicle. But, no matter what tools you use, you still have to do a series of repeated actions to get that driveway cleared.

With a habit, you might start daily, you might start weekly, you might start small, you may start big, but you will have to choose where/how to start and keep plugging away at it until you get your habit established.

If you have to get your car out quickly to get somewhere, you might not shovel a path from the car to the house, you might just clear the car’s windshield and shovel out behind the car and drive off, leaving the rest of the shovelling for later.

Similarly, if you quickly need something specific from your habit, you can start with the tasks that are most closely related to it. For example, if you are trying to improve your overall fitness but also you have a lot of back pain – your habit might start with emphasizing stretches for your back or with focusing on strengthening your core muscles. Or if you are finding that racing thoughts make it hard to fall asleep, the first part of building your meditation habit might focus on pre-bed relaxation practices.

Meanwhile, if you have no idea where to start with your driveway or with your writing or with your habit, it’s ok to start anywhere and just keep doing a shovelful at a time.

The driveway will get done, no matter where you start.

The thing will get written, no matter where you start.

And, if you are trying to build a habit and you return to it a metaphorical shovelful at a time, over and over, you will create the habit you want to create – no matter where you start with it.

I wish you ease with your habit-building, your writing, and with any snow-shovelling or laundry folding you need to do.

Here are your gold stars for your efforts today, whether they are small or large, whether they are a fresh start or part of the momentum you are building, or whether you are just trying to be kind to yourself while you figure out where you put your shovel.

Three gold stars resting on rectangular stands.
A drawing of three gold stars atop rectangular stands (one short red, one taller green, and one royal med-height blue, with black pinstripes on each), the edges of the drawing are decorated with tiny gold dots.
advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! Make some tweaks

Would changing a few things about your environment or your approach make it easier for you to build the habits you are trying to build?

Could you enhance your exercise or meditation space to make it more appealing?

Could you move things around to make your practice feel more accessible?

Is there anything you can change about the details of your tasks that will make them more fun or at least less annoying?

Let me give you some examples.

Today, I’m moving my rowing machine up into my living room.

Up until now, it has been in the basement which was perfectly fine until I started decluttering. My decluttering project has many stages and some of those stages take a week or more so there is stuff lying around partially sorted or half organized. And the thought of using my rowing machine amid that chaos has kept me from using it regularly.

I want to use my rowing machine but I know I can’t speed up the decluttering, so the machine has gotta move.*

Years ago, when I first tried strength training, I realized that I found it irritating to count up my reps. I wasn’t sure what bugged me about it at the time so I started experimenting with different methods of keeping track and I found out that using short periods of time (Do squats for 30 seconds) helped, saying letters instead of numbers (Why do I not mind doing H bicep curls but doing 8 is annoying? Who knows?), or simply counting down instead were all better than counting up.

Moving my rowing machine, changing how I track reps, using a small gardener’s mat for extra knee padding during certain yoga poses, putting a blanket in the spot where I meditate, lighting a candle when I write in my journal, using a textured sticker to focus on mindful breathing, all of these tweaks make it easier for me to do the things I want and need to do to build and maintain my habits

Yes, I know that some of these things might seem silly or weird.

Maybe they seem like hardly worth doing, like something I should be able to just ignore or just push past.

But I’m not out to prove anything here, I just want a straightforward path to doing the things I want to do?

Why add extra static to a task that already requires a fair bit of physical and emotional energy?

Why not make things easier on myself?

By tweaking the details of my environment and my approach, I remove a whole set of obstacles from between me and my tasks.

Removing those obstacles makes it more likely that I will be able to follow through on my plans.

So, Team, I’m wondering if you can give yourself permission to do similar things for yourself?

To reiterate the questions I asked at the beginning of this post…

Is there anything about where you exercise or meditate or journal or rest that might improve that space?

Is there anything about *how* you approach or undertake your tasks that you can tweak to make things easier?

Your obstacles may not be obvious at first. You may have to poke around in your reluctance a little to see what’s bugging you (it took me a while to realize that the mess of the decluttering process was interfering with my rowing) but it will be worth it to figure it out and experiment with how to make things better.

Whether your routines, systems and tasks are unfolding smoothly or whether they need a few tweaks, I wish you ease and self-kindness today and always.

Here’s your gold star for today’s efforts, no matter what they are:

A drawing of a red balloon decorated with a gold star and gold dots.
A drawing of a red balloon decorated with a gold star and gold dots. The balloon is on a string and is floating up from the bottom of the drawing. The background of the image is white with gold horizontal pinstripes.

*Luckily, it’s not a very fancy rowing machine so it’s pretty compact and the long part folds upward when I remove a pin so it won’t take up all the space in my living room.

advice · fitness · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! Or you could start big?

All of my advice so far has been about taking small steps, keeping an even pace and being prepared to start over and over while building your habits.

All of that advice is comes from a combination of science and personal/coaching experience.

The slow and steady approach works most often.

That being said, I have also had some success with starting big – as long as the big start was for a short time frame.

So, if a small start isn’t doing it for you, maybe you might enjoy trying the other extreme and going big at first and slowing down afterwards.

This might look like a 5 day challenge to do something for an hour a day, or it might look like committing to a month of daily journaling, or it might be a long hike every weekend for three weekends in a row.

Because these bigger projects are short term, yoI can probably temporarily rearrange your life to accommodate them.

The key here is to recognize that the point of these short-term-go-big challenges is to give you a jump start, a big win that can set you on the path to developing a more sustainable habit that will work better with your day-to-day.

A short term intense start can give you lots of good information for moving forward. It can show you the parts you like or don’t like about your planned habit. It can give you a sense of immediate accomplishment. It might even give you a few skills or a boost in wellbeing that can help you move towards making activities like this a part of your regular routine.

As long as you recognize that a big start is only intended to be short term, it can really help.

Unless you are person of leisure or a professional athlete, you probably don’t have the capacity to include those huge tasks every day for the long term. And, in fact, people of leisure and professional athletes can probably only do it because they have a team of professionals supporting them in the process.

Basically, most of us will do best with a small start that builds our habit piece by piece but someone of us will enjoy starting with a big splash.

But no matter which approach you choose, you have to be kind to yourself and try have reasonable expectations about your time, your capacity, and your results.

Here’s your gold star for today’s efforts – big or small.

A gold star against a background of large blue circles and purple circles.
A drawing of a gold star against a background of large circles, some purple with black speckles, some blue with black pinstripes and some plain blue. The white spaces between the circles are lined with blue pinstripes.

J

advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! The biggest picture

When you are building a habit, you are constantly going back and forth between the big picture (the habit, the system, the goal) and the small picture (the task of the day, the hour, the minute.)

It can be tricky to remember that the task in front of you will add up to the future goal. Conversely, when we are focused on the future goal it can be really frustrating if today’s circumstances require us to change our planned task – it can end up feeling like changing one day’s task will prevent us from ever reaching our goal.

That’s why, today, I’m inviting you to think of the biggest picture, not just the big/small ones.

What’s the biggest picture?

Your sense of wellbeing.

Yep, whether you are doing cardio, yoga, or meditation, whether you are running or writing in your journal, whether you are dancing or taking mindful breaths, the habits you are building are all in service of creating, improving, an expanding your sense of wellbeing.

And that’s good news for every part of your big picture and of your small picture.

It means that the repeated actions that move you toward your goal are part of the biggest picture.

It means that changing today’s task to match today’s circumstances is part of the biggest picture.

It means that anything and everything that improves your sense of well-being can be part of that biggest picture.

You can stick with your plans or you can switch them up and still be moving toward the place you want to go.

Keeping the biggest picture in mind lets you enjoy both today’s victories and the victories that lie ahead.

Recognizing the importance of the biggest picture lets you ‘off the hook’ if your plan was to do some intense HIIT but your body is asking for some yoga.

It also gives you room to be kinder to yourself when you aren’t feeling well. And, with well-being as your ultimate goal, it only makes sense to take a nap to ward off that headache, or to stick to something low-intensity when you have a cold.

Obviously, I believe that habit-building, creating systems, and taking repeated action are useful practices – otherwise I wouldn’t be writing these daily posts.

However, I think it is really important to remember that these practices are not ends in themselves, they are in service of our peace of mind, of strength, of flexibility, AKA – our wellbeing.

So, when it comes to being kind to ourselves in these practices and about the details of these practices, it’s vitally important that we remember the biggest picture and do what we can to stay true to it.

Wishing you ease and wellbeing, Team!

Here’s your gold star for your efforts today:

A drawing of a gold star against a black pinstriped background in a blue frame.
A drawing of a gold star against a background of thing black lines contained within a bright blue square frame. There are purple dots on the paper surrounding the blue frame.
advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! Revisit Past Victories

If you are old enough to be reading this, you are standing atop a stack of past victories.

I know, our brains like to remind us of the times things didn’t go so well but we can also consciously choose to remind ourselves of the times that everything worked out just fine.

You have sailed through some things and struggled with others but, more often than not, you have been victorious.

The victories may have been small, they may have been enormous or they may have been anywhere in between, but they are all right there, tucked away in your mind, waiting for you to recall them.

So, today, let’s do that.

Let’s revisit our victories of all sizes.

And literally anything counts.

If it is hard for you to get out of bed but you somehow made yourself do it? That’s a victory!

If getting out of bed wasn’t in the cards today but you texted a friend to commiserate? That’s a victory!

If you were running and kind of wanted to cut things short but you forged ahead a little more? Victory!

Last month, when you had to make those phone calls for work and it took you three days to work up the nerve but you did it? Victory!

When you finally decided to tackle the clutter in your basement and it took you weeks to get rid of it bit by bit, but you persevered? That’s a victory!

When you went to the job interview. When you stood up to that jerk. When you stepped away from the argument. When you studied for the exam. Victory. Victory. Victory. Victory.

It doesn’t matter how long ago these victories were, they still belong to you and the efforts you put into them still matter.

At this point, you might be asking yourself ‘Why is Christine bringing up all of these unrelated things? What does this have to do with the habit I am trying to build?’

Well, Team, like we have said lots of times – habit-building is hard work. It takes perseverance, it takes repeated actions, it takes a willingness to endure the stress of challenging ourselves, it takes a lot of plan-adjusting, a lot of restarting, a lot of picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off and diving back in.

And I want you to remember that you have done this before. You have all of those skills and resources and that you applied them in a variety of contexts and were victorious.

By revisiting those past victories, you can see that there have been many, many times when things were challenging but that you were able to pull together the energy, the strength, the persistence, to get the thing done.

Sure, you may be facing different challenges this time, and you may need different help or different resources but you already have the key skills you need for habit-building and you can call on them again.

This isn’t about willpower or any kind of ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ approach, this is about reminding yourself that victory is possible. And that you know it is possible because you have done it many times before.

So, bask in those past victories. Remind yourself how you felt in the process and how you felt when you were done.

Use some of that energy to help carry yourself forward through any challenges you are facing on the way to the victory ahead.

Oh, and please be kind to yourself in the process.

Here’s a very goofy looking gold star to celebrate your efforts, past and present:

A drawing of a cartoon-like gold star with a happy face on it
Image description; a drawing of a happy and goofy cartoon gold star that is covered in black speckles. The background of the image is thin black vertical lines with the the occasional oval between sections of the lines.
advice · fitness · goals · habits · self care

Go Team 2023! Dare to NOT compare

Today, I am inviting you to dismiss any comparison that generates negative feelings for you.

If looking at your friend’s progress or some actor’s muscles makes you feel good, if it is inspiring for you or if it motivates you to do things that increase your feeling of well-being, that’s great. Forge ahead!

But if noticing a friend’s progress or comparing yourself to someone in an Instagram post or an actor in a TV show makes you feel deflated or opens the door to self-criticism?

I vote no!

You deserve better things than that.

You deserve kindness, from the world and from yourself.

You are working on a habit that will increase your well-being in one way or another. Some days will be easy and some will be hard. Your results make be visible or they may not. You may move quickly through your plan or you may turtle your way along. Your changes may be huge or they may be small.

You may follow a similar trajectory as someone else did and get similar results or you may get wildly different ones.

The thing is this is about *you* and how you feel and about the things you want to do or learn to do.

What other people do (or have done) and their results have absolutely nothing to do with you.

They aren’t living in your body with your mind in your life with your schedule, your resources, and your challenges. You have no idea what they would/would not accomplish in your situation or what you would/would not accomplish in theirs.

If you can coax yourself into avoiding comparison and into using your own metrics to measure your progress, you will get where you want to go. And you will get there at your own pace and enjoy your own victories.

By daring to NOT compare you are bringing the forces of self-compassion and kindness into the equation and doing that always makes things easier.

Your magical gold star wand for today’s efforts is below.

I wish you ease, my dear Team members. 💚

PS – Speaking of comparisons, don’t even get me started on the fitness and wellness industry! Sure, there are lots of good intentioned and helpful instructors out there but the industry itself? That can be a bit of a racket.

A lot of these companies are making money by making you feel badly about yourself. Cheat them out of that money and beat them at their own game by stubbornly refusing to compare yourself with the people they offer up as examples.

A small painting of a magic wand with a star on top against a multicoloured background.
Image description: a small painting of a magic wand with a gold star on top. The wand is surrounded by little gold droplet shapes to represent the magic. The background is composed of 4 square/rectangular sections each painted a different colour – one green decorated with white lines, one pink decorated with blue splatters, one blue with yellow spirals and dots and one orange with black lines.

advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! Make It Automatic.

This post is another one of those times when I try to lead by example.

My day took a (positive) turn a few minutes ago and now I have limited time to write this post. So, instead of getting into a story and lots of examples, I am going to take the idea I wanted to communicate and just frame it as a series of questions for you to consider:

How can you make the habit you are building an automatic part of your day?

What is the smallest, most straightforward version of your habit-related tasks?

How can you make that version possible on even your most unexpectedly busy day?

What does an automatic version of your habit-related task look like?

How can you increase the chances of fitting that automatic, streamlined version into every day that you want to fit it into?

There will be lots of days when you will be able to do the extended remix versions of your habit-related tasks too but today, I am inviting you to go full robot and develop the automatic version.

And here is an inspirational robot with your gold star for your efforts to automate.

She’s proud of the self-kindness you are demonstrating with your approach to your habit today.

A drawing of a happy robot holding a gold star.
Image description: a drawing of a small green robot holding gold star. This happy robot is made of two square shapes connected by coiled lines that represent arms and legs and her feet are two half oval shapes. She’s standing on a lighter green hill and the sky is blue behind her.
advice · fitness · goals · habits · self care

Go Team 2023! Feeling Feelings

When you are in the middle of making changes in your life – whether those changes are positive or challenging, you are going to churn up some feelings.

You might be excited and hopeful, you might be sad and frustrated, you might be annoyed, you might be scared.

Your feelings might make perfect sense to you or they might seem utterly bizarre.

You don’t actually have to come up with explanations for your feelings, you don’t have to justify them, and you definitely don’t have to dive into them and swim around.

Usually, it’s better to just let yourself feel your feelings, to accept them as a reaction to the thing that is changing, and to try not to suppress them or push them away.

I don’t mean to suggest that feeling your feelings and accepting them is an easy process – most of us don’t have a lot of training or experience in doing that – but I think it is a worthwhile practice to ease our way into.

Note: I am not a trained mental health professional so my advice is this area is limited. I just want to be clear that I am not suggesting that you start acting out your every feeling. There is a big difference between feeling something and taking action on it and it is important to learn to discern when to share our feelings (and with whom) and what feelings-related actions are appropriate to take. Many times, feelings are something for us to feel and accept – perhaps with trained support – but we can’t automatically assume that everyone around us needs to be involved in accommodating our feelings.

Ok, back to the feelings that pop up when we make changes.

It’s really important to realize that churning up feelings is just part of the process of change. Those feelings aren’t necessarily signs that we are doing the wrong thing (or the right thing), they might have useful information for us or they might be related to an old story or situation we are still carrying around in our heads. And they might only have the tiniest sliver of connection to the changes we are making, feelings get churned up about all kinds of things.

If our feelings are prolonged and overwhelming and creating challenges for us, we will need some sort of professional assistance to meet the needs connected to them.

If they are regular, garden variety feelings, then we need to give ourselves room to feel them and, once the intensity of the feelings have waned a bit, we can figure out if they have any useful information for us.

Maybe you will realize that you have some fear surrounding the changes you are making and you’ll need to find a way to increase your feelings of safety as you move forward.

Perhaps you’ll realize how excited you are about the changes and you want to take things up a notch.

Maybe you find sitting in meditation overwhelming and upsetting but you still feel drawn to the practice – that might mean you would find more ease in walking meditation or in meditative drawing.

Obviously, I can’t guess every possible feeling you might be having and advise you how to proceed but I can suggest, as I always do, that you can be kind to yourself throughout the process.

You are doing the best you can with the resources you have and it is ok to feel any of the feelings you are having related to these changes.

Having feelings, even weird and inexplicable ones, churn up in the process of building a habit is perfectly normal and makes perfect sense.

When you stir something up – your soup, your garden, the stuff in your junk drawer – things get rearranged and you automatically bring new stuff to the surface. The same thing happens when you stir your life up a bit. Please try to be kind to yourself about what arises and get whatever help you need to help you address it.

Here are your gold stars for your efforts today:

a drawing of three gold stars against a background of thin, overlapping, black lines
Image description: a drawing of three gold stars against a background of thin, overlapping, black lines
advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! Assemble *Your* Team

So, aside from me, who is on your team for your current habit-building project?

I mean, I assume you know that I am on your team – I’m here with the gold stars and the daily posts and the complete confidence that you will find a way to do the things you want to do.

You may not have thought about it that way, but I have. I didn’t randomly choose ‘Go Team!’ as my series title – I feel that we are all in this together, we’re all on the same team, so we might as well cheer each other on.

Ok, so far, there’s you and me, a formidable team if there ever was one, but who else are we going to recruit?

Let’s think of some roles you might want people to fill. You may not want everyone in every role to be talking at you every day but you want to know who to call on when you need them.

The Expert

Maybe you need an expert of some sort – a doctor, a trainer, a kinesiologist, a psychologist, a coach – in some cases the expert will be a trained professional in other cases they might just be someone with more experience than you.

You’ll want to choose your expert carefully, of course – you can’t have a hobbyist doctor or a self-trained kinesiologist, that’s not a safe way to proceed. You want an expert you can trust on a personal level and who has skills, training, and experience that you can trust.

The Cheerleader

Perhaps you’ll want a cheerleader – someone you can turn to when your enthusiasm is waning. This would be someone who believes you can do it, no matter what, and knows what to say to inspire you.

The Empathizer

Maybe you’ll need an empathizer – someone who can talk you through the hard bits and knows when to encourage you to take a break. This person will probably also be able to remind that these things take time and that you need to go easier on yourself as you build your habits.

The Tough One

Sometimes, we need empathy and cheerleading, sometimes we need someone to say ‘Enough of this foolishness, go do the thing!‘

Personally, I don’t call on my tough team members very often because ‘just do it!’ is rarely a useful technique for me but it is good to have someone like this to call on when you need them.

The Co-conspirator

This is someone who is trying to do something similar to what you are doing. They are working toward a similar or equivalent goal, they know the struggles, they use a similar vocabulary about it.

This is the person you can work in tandem with – encouraging and supporting each other and letting each other’s momentum pull you both along.

The Accountant

This is a person who will check in with you and make sure you have done the thing.

They will keep track of how often you have done it, how much progress you have made, and they will remind you when you forget.

This person doesn’t have to be an actual accountant, of course, but accountants are very good at keeping track of things so they would be an excellent choice for this role.

Other Ways To Assemble A Team

Like I said above, you don’t need to have someone in each of these roles on your team – I just hope you can (metaphorically) assemble people to give you the support you need and want as you challenge yourself in whichever ways you have chosen to.

And, your team doesn’t have to be people you know in person.

The most obvious answer is that you can ask people you know online to support you in some of these ways. They may be online friends or they may be people who you see in Facebook groups or on Discord or wherever.

You can join accountability/ encouragement groups related to the specific habit you are trying to build.

You can choose different Instagram accounts or websites or YouTube channels to visit depending on which kind of encouragement you need. It might be a good idea to make a list of which places to go for each kind so you don’t have to figure it out in the moment.

You can pick characters from TV shows or books and channel your inner Leslie Knope, your inner Wednesday Addams, your inner Wonder Woman, your inner Harriet the Spy and give yourself what you need today.

You can gather quotes from your favourite personal development books, your favourite novels, your favourite interviews and designate them as your ‘go-to’ for different types of encouragement.

And, of course, you can post in the comments of one of my Go Team! posts and I’ll cheer you on in whichever way you happen to need just then. I’m automatically on your team so it’s ok to reach out when you need me.

Be Kind To Yourself

My point here is that you don’t need to know everything and you don’t need to have every resource in your head at all times.

You can outsource some of your motivation, some of your information, some of your accountability – whatever resources you happen to need in a given moment.

Recognizing and utilizing these outside resources is an excellent way to be kind to yourself in the process of building a new habit.

*****

As always, here’s a team of gold stars for your efforts today whether you are team-building or contentedly working alone at the moment.

Go Team Us!

Image description: Nine gold stars with wavy gold lines between/behind them painted on black paper​.
Image description: Nine gold stars with wavy gold lines between/behind them painted on black paper.
fitness · habits · Happy New Year! · new year's resolutions

New Year, Same Me?

Every new year’s season we face the onslaught of marketing telling us that a “New Year, New You” is possible. A few years ago a friend and I started saying this phrase sarcastically, which then morphed into “New Year, Same Me,” sometimes with a few curse words added in for healthy measure.

As someone who tries to adopt a growth mindset in most areas, I really struggle with both ways of framing the new year. I’m not going to become a “new” person. And I’m not likely to stay the same, either. I hope to grow and change in ways that meet the current challenges and joys in my life. I don’t want to feel “stuck” with my old ways of doing things, but I am not going to be a new person at the stroke of January 1. I’m not going to get fitter, leaner, or smarter at the stroke of midnight.

Photo by Jess Bailey from Unsplash. Rose gold pen resting over an open yearly planner book.
Rose gold pen resting over an open yearly planner.

And yet there is a strong pull to believe that could happen, thanks to the layers upon layers of marketing that tell us it could be so. And then there are the headlines! Oh, the headlines. “It takes 21 days to build a habit” “Resolution-makers unlikely to stick with resolutions” “Resolution-makes do better with habit-building than those without resolutions” and on and on they go, each one contradicting the next.

Here’s what I know about me… your mileage may vary – I like the fresh hope a new week/month/year bring when thinking about habits or changes. I like to pause and reflect on the previous time span, thinking about how I met (or didn’t) meet the goals I put forth, what things brought me joy, and what changes I could make to get more of those experiences. I like to dream up fun ways to challenge myself and new experiences I could share with my loved ones.

I also know it takes me way longer than 21 days to build a habit. The last habit I intentionally adopted took me 6 months to adopt, and another 2 months before it felt like a natural part of my routine. Sometimes I do better with starting on a “new” block of time, but other times I’ll just randomly start a “streak” on a Tuesday afternoon and keep it going for some period of time.

I know I only have the resources to focuses on one or two new things at a time. I cannot drastically increase my fitness time and my writing time simultaneously. I can’t take up a winter outdoor activity without updating some of my outdoor clothing and gear, which may conflict with a “low-spend” resolution. I do better when I can plan some of these conflicts ahead of time. Maybe I’ll do a low-spend period with the exception of outdoor gear updates. Or I’ll decide in advance that I want to prioritize my writing over anything else when I run short of time and/or energy. My brain likes knowing what the plan is before the conflict happens, even if the plan doesn’t always get followed as written.

All that is to say…. I’m both overwhelmed with possibility and exhausted by the same. I’m embracing the quiet and cold season to reflect and rest. I’ve chosen my word of the year (create) but I haven’t really landed on what that means just yet.

How about you? Do you have plans to become a new you? The same old you? A mildly different you? What is your plan for the new year?

Amy Smith is a professor of Media & Communication and a communication consultant who lives north of Boston. Her research interests include gender communication and community building. Amy spends her movement time riding the basement bicycle to nowhere, walking her two dogs, and waiting for it to get warm enough for outdoor swimming in New England.