2014 taught me a lot — how to prioritize, how to be deliberate, how to focus on the good rather than bad – but, there’s one lesson I’ve learned that I’ve especially been using to my advantage: humans are creatures of habit [good + bad!]. As much as we’d like to believe we can *simply* implement a change, it takes work. Slowly but surely, these foreign tasks become part of our lives — as long as we repeat them until we don’t have to think about them anymore. Here are six practices that I challenge you to start this January [+ continue for the rest of the year!].
1] Wake up earlier + go to bed earlier.
In your twenties there seems to be this unwritten rule — sleep is for the weak. Who started this? It’s 100% wrong. This past year, I decided I wanted to wake up earlier because I wanted to get more out of the day. The thing I didn’t realize – if I wanted to wake up earlier, I’d have to go to bed earlier, too. At first I wasn’t tired before 11 PM + I struggled to wake up. I wanted to stay in bed, but something inside me told me to keep trying. Slowly but surely, waking up became easier, + now I’m exhausted by 10:30 PM. Why? My days are full! I wake up around 7 AM [2015 goal – 6 AM!], + I love it. Waking up earlier allows me to do more — more of what I love + more new experiences.
LIFE IS GETTING UP AN HOUR EARLY TO LIVE AN HOUR MORE.
2] Eat real food.
If I could instill one concept into people who want to be healthy — truly healthy from the inside out — it would be the importance of eating real food. As a Nutrition major, I sometimes take the knowledge I’ve learned for granted. It’s vital that I take a step back + assess my target audience when I want to help them make a change. Most girls — most people — don’t know the basics of eating healthy. Without going into detail + confusing explanations, let me tell you this: if you can’t pronounce it, your body can’t process it. Look for whole foods at the grocery store — fruits + veggies + lean meats + nuts + seeds + whole grains. Choose foods that contain one ingredient: an apple, almonds, sweet potatoes, etc. I promise you, your body will notice + you will feel more energized [bonus — when you eat real food, you can often eat more of it : )].
THE FOOD YOU EAT CAN EITHER BE THE SAFEST + MOST POWERFUL MEDICINE OR THE SLOWEST FORM OF POISON. //ANN WIGMORE
3] Exercise because you love your body.
We’re not always as nice as we could be to our bodies. I mean, take a second + really think about your body — all it does + all it endures. It takes you from classes to meetings to jobs to friends’ houses to places you’ve never been. It sits through lectures, it braves the cold, it sweats in the heat. We’d be nothing without our bodies, so why do we constantly wish we had another one? Train yourself to treat your body with the respect it deserves. Choose to do things that will make you stronger//better//more improved – but, don’t work to be like someone else. Exercise because you love your body + treat it right. You only have one!
EMBRACE + LOVE YOUR BODY — IT’S THE MOST AMAZING THING YOU WILL EVER OWN.
4] Practice gratitude.
This is something I think everyone can adopt. Sometimes I get really caught up in the latest running shoes or Nike crewneck or Victoria’s Secret Sport sport bra that I forget all that I have already. Or other times I focus on the tiny things that irk me about my friends or my family or my boyfriend that I forget how much I love them + how good they are to me. It’s so important to remind yourself of everything you appreciate. As cliché as it sounds, you never know when things could change. For 2015, I’ve decided every morning I am going to write down three things I am grateful for. At the end of the year, I will be able to look back + be filled with so much joy from all of the things I’m blessed to have + people I’m lucky to know.
WHEN YOU ARISE IN THE MORNING, THINK OF WHAT A PRECIOUS PRIVILEGE IT IS TO BE ALIVE — TO BREATHE, TO THINK, TO ENJOY, TO LOVE. //MARCUS AURELIUS
5] De-clutter your life.
I don’t know about you but between being at school + coming home for break [+ for those out of college — transitioning from home life to real life], my things are everywhere + my room at home is usually where all my excess stuff is thrown. When’s the last time you went through your closet? What about your desk? I personally have a really hard time letting go of old things + clothes. I always think I might wear that polka dot sweater if I ever get an interview with that one company. If you haven’t worn it or used it in a year [I’ll even give you two years!], are you ever going to? Probably not. Donate it! Trust me, you will feel amazing after from both giving + simplifying your life.
CLUTTER IS NOT JUST THE STUFF ON THE FLOOR — IT’S ANYTHING THAT STANDS BETWEEN YOU + THE LIFE YOU WANT TO BE LIVING. //PETER WALSH
6] Read + learn.
I am a huge advocate of following your passion — even if that means taking risks//being scared//failing a couple times. If your major or your job or your hobbies don’t absolutely fascinate you, get new ones. Try something new until you find the thing that makes your eyes light up + sends a tingle down your spine. Read every day + learn everything you can. There is so much out there in the world. Be brave enough to seek out things that make you feel alive.
THE MORE YOU READ, THE MORE THINGS YOU WILL KNOW. THE MORE THAT YOU LEARN, THE MORE PLACES YOU’LL GO. //DR. SEUSS
Do you have a practice that you are committing to daily this January? Share it with us! 2015 is OUR year — #YearOfTheBolt. Anything is possible!
Alyssa [@thebusybee_], Penn State Ambassador