Healthy Habits: The Key to a Happy New Year

By Kylie Keisling

I don’t know about you, but 2020 really threw me for a loop. As someone who thrives on routines, I realized this year was sink or swim when it came to flexibility. Whether it was remote learning, working from home, ordering groceries online, or outdoor visits with our family we all started new routines. I believe this crazy year has highlighted just how adaptable we can all be. This year has given us the chance to reorient our lives toward what matters most. Understanding the habits that drive our daily lives is a helpful place to start this fresh new year.  

Here are some tips to help you build healthy habits for a happy new year.  

Be Specific: What do you want your life to look like? By the end of 2021 what do you hope to accomplish? Often, we don’t know where to begin. We try to make changes in many areas of our lives all at once. Instead, is there something that you have always said to yourself, “I am going to learn how to ____” or “I am finally going to overcome _______” or “I want to improve this area of my life _______”. 

The great news is that when you choose, set and accomplish a goal, and form habits to support that goal there will be a ripple effect. When you make one change it will spark more change. The confidence that you will gain will help you in more difficult areas. After you pick an area, write out a detailed goal.  A good goal is measurable. 

If it is helpful for you, make your goal public. Put it out on social media or ask a friend to be your accountability partner. Bringing others into your goal can give you the encouragement to stay on track.  

Be Intentional: Next, what will it mean to you to accomplish this goal?  This is as important as making it measurable. Are there tangible things that you will gain like more income, a higher self-esteem, or increased energy in your daily life? Write those down. If you are able to tie the specific accomplishments to your values, even better. An example would include: I will lose 10 pounds this year and will have more energy to play with my children. I will schedule a play date with each child every week. Notice how this goal may be easier to attain because the meaning is so clear and focused. Meaning is where our thoughts and emotions merge, and is always more powerful than just thoughts or just emotions. 

If You Don’t Know Where to Start: If you are having a difficult time identifying a goal, here is a suggestion. Identify a person who you personally know or a public figure who you admire and write down what you see in their life that you wish to have in your own life. Actually, this is helpful for everyone when it comes to goal completion. By identifying someone, it is much easier to get at the meaning we place on a specific goal. Think about someone who you admire, you may not be able to put words with your view of them but you know that you know their life is capturing something important that captured your attention. 

Next up, Habits: Aligning our goals with daily habits will help keep us on track. This step of creating a habit is often missed and is a common reason goal setting fails. We can jump ahead to short-term goals to reach our larger goal, but overlook the fact that we may have habits in place that are in the way of success. For example, if our goal is to lose weight we will need to create a habit of exercise. The first step may be making a habit of getting up an hour earlier before we even start adding in the exercise. If we don’t make getting up earlier a habit, we will easily hit the snooze button when we don’t feel like exercising.  

Below are three areas to prioritize as you create a new habit: 

Time- Where will your goal fit into your daily schedule? Will you need to get up earlier or stay up later? Do you need to delete something from your schedule to make room for your goal? As a starting point, jot down how you spend your time on a weekday and on the weekend.  You cannot add without subtracting. What will you give up? Be gentle with yourself and allow some trial and error.  

If you happen to be a parent or someone in a high care-taker role there is an extra challenge because your time may not be just your time. If this is your situation, outside support may be needed to carve out this time so that you can step away from being the care-taker or you may benefit from some life management coaching on how you can meet your goal and include others in the process. 

Money- Will your finances support your goal? Take a look at your budget. Are you spending your money in a way that reflects your values and aligns with your goal? If your goal requires money, where will it come from? Once again, life management coaching may be beneficial. This includes lower cost alternatives and even in some cases turning your goal into something profitable or at least zero balance. An example of this includes learning a new skill that can also generate income. 

Relationships- This year has highlighted how being intentional with the people in our lives matters. We can make intentionality into a daily habit as we drop our phones and become genuinely curious about connecting with the people around us. The key to curiosity is empathy. Through really tapping in to what another’s life is like we can create a habit of prioritizing the people around us. When we feel deeply connected to others, are more likely to take care of ourselves. Use this intentionality to help you meet your goals.  

If you are looking to jump start your new year, I invite you to join me for the Zoom class Healthy Habits. Every new year brings a fresh start. With a new year comes renewed motivation, energy, and hope for change. Often, we start off strong with a new year’s resolution and as we settle back into our daily routines our old habits take over.  Lasting change comes from understanding how God wired us and making any corrections that are out of alignment. 

During Healthy Habits, you can expect to explore your habits, implement new ones, and create effective routines that help you meet your goals. Each week we will shine a light on daily habits that will maximize your personal strengths, improve your health and wellness, and establish a pattern of short-term goal achievement for long term success.  Illuminating old habits is key to implementing new habits and reaching your goals. As a group member, you can expect practical tips for how to set and meet your goals, a supportive community, and unique exercises to keep you encouraged outside of group. This group opportunity also includes a pre-group session focused on exploring your own unique strengths, challenges, and goals. Change is possible and this group may be just what you need to light up your new year.  

This class is led by professional counselors Kylie Keisling and Brenda Neyens (together they offer over 20 years of life management expertise) who will walk with you each week toward creating helpful habits. Space is limited to a minimum of 4 participants with a maximum of 8. Illuminate will be a Zoom class held on Tuesdays starting January 12th through February 16th from 12-1 pm. The cost is $70.  We do not want cost to be a barrier to your attendance, so you may apply for a partial scholarship. Approval will be based on need and availability of funds.  For more information about this class or for any questions, contact Kylie at kyliek@kingofkings.org. For registration, go to Healthy Habits