Every year on December 31 when the clock strikes midnight, billions of New Year's Resolutions float into the crisp, new air. Men and women alike declare that this year will be different. They will start that diet, run that marathon, become a Pinterest queen, remodel their home, finally lose that weight - basically, making the ultimate promise to themselves to lose every bad habit they've ever acquired and start practicing every good habit they didn't accomplished the year before.
How incredibly overwhelming!
When you put so much weight on your shoulders each new year, you are basically setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. This year, try something different: ditch your new year's resolutions! That's right - toss them out the window! Instead of attempting to become an unrealistic, perfect version of yourself in 365 days, try taking smaller, healthier steps toward bettering your life. The following list are 8 things to do this year instead of making resolutions that will help cleanse your life and boost your happiness - in turn, making you the realistic version of the person you always wanted to be!
Toxic Friends and Family Members
You know who they are. They're the friends and family members who always seem to bring you down. Whether their negativity is directed at their own lives or your life, it's contagious. Talking to them is exhausting. You find yourself avoiding their calls and cancelling dates with them just so you don't have to deal with their drama. But for some reason, whether they're blood or your oldest friend, you just can't seem to break it off. It's time.
Other people's negativity plays a huge factor on your own happiness. If you surround yourself with negative people, you're going to become a negative person. If you surround yourself with positive people, you will become a positive person. It really is as simple as that. It definitely won't be easy, but it will be worth it. Be honest with these people in your life. They won't change if they have no idea how their attitudes are affecting those around them.
Every mom has "mom envy," whether they want to admit it or not. Even the envied moms envy other moms. It's a vicious, never-ending cycle that consists of a big juicy compilation of jealousy, feelings of inadequacy and self doubt. You just can't seem to look as put-together as the mom at the bus stop who is fully dressed with her hair, makeup and nails done at 7:30 each morning. Your kid's lunchbox looks lacking with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich next to her friend's who's mom packed her all organic fruit and a free range chicken wrap in a homemade spinach tortilla. But trust us, that mom that you envy most likely has the same feelings of inadequacy and doubt that you do. And she's trying to compare and compete with another mom who seems perfect in her eyes.
The second you let go of your mom envy, you will be free to be the best mom you can be to your children. You will stop worrying about what you're doing wrong and start living right. You will be happier, and in turn, your children will be happier. Motherhood is not a competition, and there are no perfect mothers. Your children will love you for the time you spend with them and the love you show them - not their Pinterest-worthy lunchboxes.
How often do you see a friend's status on a social media site and think,"How vague... who is she talking about? She must just be fishing for sympathy or compliments." Passive aggressiveness might feel good in the moment, but it will only alienate you from your loved ones. Far too often, we forget how many goods things we have in our lives when we are bombarded with challenges and difficulties. Instead of only focusing on the negative things that are happening in your life when you log into your social media sites, try focusing on the positive things. Having a positive attitude is not only contagious to others, but it will help you stay in check with what's really important in your life as well. Besides, remember the "toxic friends" we mentioned earlier? If you are constantly passive aggressive, you might just be considered toxic to someone else.
Unrealistic Expectations of your Partner
A mother's job is never done. Sometimes in all the chaos, it's easy to forget that a father's job isn't either. It's easy to have unrealistic expectations of your partner when you feel overwhelmed and sometimes unappreciated. If you're a SAHM, by the end of the day, you probably find yourself waiting at the door for your partner so you can escape to seclusion for a while. But you have to remember, that while you were busy and overwhelmed at home with the kids, he was probably equally busy and overwhelmed at work. While your daily jobs and responsibilities might not be the same, the physical and mental toll they take on your bodies is. He would probably like some time to himself at the end of the day as well.
This needs to be a mutual understanding between the two of you. As long as you realize that he has similar needs as you, it will be easier to eliminate resentment on both sides of the relationship. Instead of arguing about who is more exhausted and whose turn it is to give the kids a bath, work together as a team to get your nightly tasks done and find time to relax together.
Overuse of Technology
Technology really is a marvelous thing. It has given us the platform to connect with people from all over the world. But it has also taken the intimacy and connectedness out our relationships with the people right in front of us. With Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and access to millions of sites on the internet, literally right at our fingertips via our Smartphones, it's clear to see that in the process of developing "relationships" with people worldwide, we are jeopardizing our relationships with those closest to us.
This year, make a genuine effort to keep your phone in your purse while you're out with friends or on a date with your husband or at the park with your children. In order to be fully engaged in your physical daily life, you have to fight the need to see what others are doing in that exact moment. If you like to take pictures with your friends, of your kids, or of fancy meals, take the photos and then put your phone away. Save the posting and commenting until the day is over and you are alone. Being fully engaged in your life will bring you much more happiness and contentment than trying hard to appear that way on social media.
Body Image Issues
This is one thing you absolutely have to put an end to right now. It's fine to want to look good. It's totally fine to start an exercise routine and to establish a healthier lifestyle. It's even better if you're doing these things to better your health - not to try to live up to unrealistic standards of beauty or to try to look good for someone else. Instead of focusing on your body image, try focusing on your overall health. If you are overweight, don't begin a diet with the goal to lose weight so you can fit into a bikini by summer. Start an exercise routine and begin healthier meal planning so that you can better your physical health.
When you take away the images of Victoria's Secret models in your head and start making small, but impacting changes to your lifestyle, you will find that reaching your goals are much less stressful and much more attainable. In the meantime, be confident in who you are now. Untagging yourself in your friend's photos on Facebook won't change the way you look. Take pride in yourself and the way you look as you change your lifestyle in a healthy way.
Let's face it, it's definitely easier to say "yes" to someone than it is to say "no." But agreeing to too many commitments will not only set you up for failure, and it will add extra, unnecessary levels of stress to your life. We all want to be Superwoman and be able to accomplish a million things, all while wearing designer heels and balancing 3 babies in tow. That's just not realistic. Make it a point to only commit to what you can comfortably handle this year. And don't feel bad for saying "no." People will be way more understanding if you tell them you just don't have time to manage something than to commit to it and not be able to follow through.
Need for Total Control
Life is unpredictable - especially as a mother. You are not always going to have enough diapers at the park or be able to make a well-balanced dinner each night. Your kids won't always go to bed on time. Your husband won't always get home from work for dinner. Your dog will have accidents. Your house won't always be clean and organized. Plans will get cancelled. Bills will accidentally get left unpaid. It will rain on days you style your hair. Once you let go of the notion that you can be in total control of everything in your life, and really embrace the moments of chaos, you will be happy. It is incredibly freeing to roll with life instead of trying to control it.
Fear of Change
It's very easy to fall into a familiar routine, not just in your daily life, but your overall life as well. You might not like your job, but staying with the familiar is easier than embracing the unknown and looking for something new. Maybe you always wanted to take an art class or join the local community theater or even go back to school, but fear of change has always held you back.
This year, you don't have to make resolutions to do all of these things, but you absolutely should let go of your fear of change. Once you do, you will be open to do all of the things you've failed to do in the past. Life is short. Make the very most of it by opening yourself up to new opportunities and experiences. At the end of it all, you can look back and say "I had a full life. I have no regrets."
The only resolution you should keep this year is to ditch your resolutions and cleanse your life. Simplify, beautify and embrace the unknown.
Photo credit: The Art of Making a Baby and With A Red Bird On My Shoulder