Who needs a New Year’s resolution that you toss in the trash by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around? Not us!
Most resolutions stick for just six weeks. That’s why, this year, we’re working on tiny changes that will make us better people in small but significant ways. Forget about impossible-to-achieve goals. Science shows that focusing on the little things is a strategy you can stick with through December 31st and beyond.
Ready to redefine yourself without the burden of a resolution? You’re in the right place! Grab your best pen and a blank page. Here are four ways you can write your way to the future-you of your dreams.
You want to … be a more considerate friend or family member.
Everything from strengthening relationships to becoming a better gift-giver lies in the details. Want to surprise a loved one with their favorite meal? Take note of what they order when you go out to eat. Determined to get them a present they’ll treasure? Write down the interests and items they mention in conversation.
Do it! Snag a notebook that fits in a pocket or bag you carry with you, along with a small ballpoint pen that won’t take up too much room. Scribble down tidbits your favorite people say that might be valuable in the future. Think: favorite bands, colors, spices, restaurants, flowers, and sports teams.
You want to … lean into your heritage.
Every culture in the history of humankind has one thing in common: They all have their own origin stories. People have always been curious about where they come from. That’s why genealogy is such a popular past-time. If you’re feeling unsure about who you are or you’re feeling disconnected from your past, now is the perfect time to dig into your roots.
Do it! You can draw comfort, a sense of greater purpose, and a deeper relationship to your ancestors by exploring your own and your family’s past. That could mean anything from learning about an immigrant family member’s place of birth, studying a religion, or listening to family stories and legends. When you write down what you learn, you aren’t just cementing the knowledge in your brain. You’re also creating an heirloom—an oral history you can pass down.
You want to … make fewer impulsive decisions.
Spontaneity is exciting. Making decisions in the moment can be exhilarating, but it can also lead you down some paths that aren’t so smart. Maybe you’re spending more money than you can afford, or maybe you’re jumping into relationships that aren’t right for you. If poor decisions are becoming a pattern, it’s time to create a new habit to override your more impulsive tendencies.
Do it! Keep a running list of what you’re thinking about every day. Anything and everything is fair game, from what you want to do over the weekend to whether you should end a relationship with a friend or significant other. Review it in the morning before you really begin your day, or at night when you’re winding down for bed, and update it with new thoughts or concerns.
You want to … tap into your inner social butterfly.
Conversation is the key to shining in social situations. From dating to networking, making new friends to deepening bonds with old ones, chatting people up the right way is one of the best ways to connect with other people. Whether you’re in a professional situation or a personal one, being comfortable with shooting the breeze is an asset.
Do it! A lot of social anxiety comes from the fear of not knowing what to say. The great thing about this fear is that you can squelch it yourself. Start by unjumbling all the brilliant thoughts floating around your brain. Use a journal and your best pen to unravel what you think about anything, from pop culture to politics, to industry news.
Once you start writing, you’ll realize what you can talk about ad nauseum and what you’d like to learn more about. Stick the “ad nauseum” topics in a conversation folder in your brain and read up on the ones you’re curious about.
Journaling is an effective way to sort out a multitude of problems. If you know you want to change but aren’t sure how to do that exactly, start with a journal and your best pen. To ensure you don’t forget to write, set a timer on your phone to remind you to do it. Do you have to do it every day? No, but the timer will remind you that it’s there if you feel the need to get some things off your chest. Not feeling it? That’s fine! Try again the next day, or the one after that.
The key to changing for the better is to get started now. There’s no rule that tells you how to change or what you should aim for; that has to come from you. One thing we’re sure of: Tackling personal growth with a blank page and a good ballpoint pen by your side is a great way to begin.