Switching gears from December to January – the ‘how to’.

While the last week of a year remains the most exciting one with holidays and celebrations, the first week of the new year is often ridden with anxiety for many. The holiday revelry turns into confusion and overwhelm, pretty quickly. There’s sluggishness and demotivation too. But, we have to switch gears and shake off that end of December mode right from the word go. How? Let’s see:

  1. Look forward as much as possible. “It’s easy after the holidays to beat ourselves up for all that we did or did not do,” says Amy Su, author of The Leader You Want to Be. While it’s essential to reflect and take stock of our journey through the last year, given how the human brain works, we might dwell more on our failures and missteps. This adds to our new year’s anxiety. Says Su, “It doesn’t matter what has transpired. Focus on what you can do now.”

There’s even research in the form of the construal theory, which says that the more distance we can have from losses or failure, be it with time or psychologically, the more abstractly we will think about it. Use this to your benefit. Reflect, harvest your lessons. Turn them into resolutions. Don’t dwell.

  1. Design a fulfilling diet. This does not refer to the new year resolution of diets and gyms. Recent studies show that some of the anxiety we feel is actually withdrawal. Holidays are a time for binge eating and binge drinking, given all the feasts. It’s at least a two-week affair. When we stop, our body craves the same amount of indulgence, and the lack of it leads to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety. Find a nourishing diet. Include fresh fruits and salads. More home-cooked meals. More water. Let your body recover and find a routine.
  1. Set specific resolutions. Goals are often made and forgotten. But, if you want to fulfill them and change habits like you initially intended to, get specific. Instead of saying things like ‘become fit’, ‘be a more patient leader’ or ‘read more’, break it down. Say, read more by setting aside 15-20 mins each morning to read 3 pages. Or be a more patient leader by listening to people before giving instructions.

Why? Abstract goals don’t come with a plan of action. Specific planning like the above is called implementation intention, which requires that you break the goal down into tasks. This gives you detailed steps to think through and work upon. It also compels you to make space for the goal as part of your routine by taking a realistic look at what else you have on your plate.

We all want a good year. But we find it hard to shift our thought and behavior patterns, which help us move towards success. Try these tips and let us know if they work.

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