The new year has begun and fittingly, we have had what seems like the first sticking snow of this winter. So of course, with the freshly whitened ground and the constant struggle of remembering to write 2015 at the end of every date, a new year, new resolutions, it feels like a time of shift and change. And yet, when it comes down to it, it’s not.
No, the beginning of a new year really marks a time of repetition. It is January again, it is winter again, and here we are again. Of course there have been changes, but we measure them against what we recognize as being the same.
I can hear it already, “Oh that Stephanie, taking all the fun out of another holiday,” but I promise, that’s not what I’m going for! I’m talking about the same old, same old rather than focusing on the “new” and exciting, but is that really such a bad thing?
Repetition is given a bad rap. It has connotations of being boring, stuck in a rut, and going nowhere. But it is through repetition that we learn, that we form memories, and that we grow. When we repeat a task or a thought process, we get better at it and it eventually becomes second nature to us. It gives us structure and from that, a way to measure growth and progress. This is why January 1 means so much to us; it is a point in time where we can stop and look back at what has changed and what is the same. It is a moment to stop running, take a breath, and evaluate.
No, it isn’t just the new that we should value. Take New Year’s Resolutions for example. How old is the cliché of the New Year’s Resolution which is long gone out the window come February? And how often is it true? So many see the value of the resolution only in its novelty and as soon as that wears off, grow bored and tired of it, rendering it useless. But the true value, the benefit, comes from repetition, from habit, and through that habit, actual change. So this year, I challenge you to develop good habits, big or small, for when they are embedded in your muscle memory, that is true change.
Here are some habits that I have been working on and want to continue to develop:
- Instead of “resolving to eat local,” start a habit of becoming informed about food choices. At the store, I try to read the labels and know what all those buzz words really mean.
- For the environment–I try to bring my own bag, or if I forget, ask for paper instead of plastic and recycle it at home.
- Spend just 10 minutes each day cleaning–Oh, what a joy it would be to never spend a weekend in a cleaning frenzy.
- Work on something creative one day a week–It helps to have a specific day designated for weekly habits.
- Be grateful and SAY so!–It’s easy to take what we have for granted. Statements out loud reinforce our own gratitude as well as making others feel appreciated.
- Give compliments
- Smile — Another one that’s great for you and anyone it’s directed towards.
New Years Repetitions don’t have to be anything difficult. A little good over and over again can make a big difference.
Please share any more great habits in the comments!