4 Ways To Push Yourself In 2023... Your Mind, Body, & Soul Will Thank You!
Staying within the confines of cozy, everyday comfort feels really good. As in, repeating the same routine, seeing the same people, reading the same kinds of books, and taking the same route every day. While it’s important to lean into that familiarity at times, there’s also real beauty in stretching yourself just beyond the edge of easy comfort. More than that, it can literally change your life.
“Humans tend to gravitate towards the habits that we are familiar with, but living a life that is too based in structure can often lead to staleness, loss of meaning, and stagnancy. We can only grow once we learn to step outside of our comfort zone,” says Katelyn Miskevics, LMFT at LifeStance Health. “A benefit of shaking up stale energy is that you might surprise yourself in what you are capable of, showing your brain that anything is possible if you have the courage to push yourself. This can grow more confidence.”
As you contemplate resolutions for the new year – and really #lifegoals in general – consider some of the following ways you might be able to push yourself in the coming weeks and months (if only just a little bit). Even tiny changes can create momentum in your life.
1. Branch Out of Your Social Network
No doubt you’ve heard of terms like a “social bubble” or “echo chamber.” The concept is that we’re surrounded by the same people constantly, and these are often people who reaffirm our own beliefs. This becomes particularly true as we get older and have fewer chances of meeting new friends and – let’s be honest – less desire to expand our social horizons!
Branching out of your existing social network (both online and in person) often requires us to put forth more effort than we’re used to, notes Miskevics. Ways you can stretch your social circle might include pushing yourself to go to an after-work event, joining a local team or club, or reaching out to an acquaintance you have yet to get to know.
2. Set a New, Small Physical Goal
We have a tendency to take a “go big or go home” mindset when it comes to physical health, but that can often feel overwhelming and ultimately delay progress. Here’s the thing; You don’t have to run a marathon this year or go to the gym five days a week. Think small, and build momentum from there.
“Maybe you make a monthly goal, like walk a mile by the end of January, walk a mile and a half by the end of February, and so on,” suggests Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a New York City psychotherapist. “You could also try six new exercises in six months, with a different kind of exercise each month. Figure out what it is you like and stick with that for the next six months.”
She notes that pushing your body also pushes your mind. Science tells us there’s a very clear link between physical and mental wellness, and that moving our body in healthy ways can make us feel more positive and energized. Double win!
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3. Identify Your Weaknesses
We won’t sugarcoat it. This task is probably the hardest thing to do on this list! However, holding up a mirror to ourselves and identifying our greatest weaknesses gives us an opportunity to effect real change. If you do this thoughtfully and with genuine dedication, it’ll improve your overall quality of life, fostering everything from more love for yourself to deeper connections with others to a more satisfying day-to-day experience.
Here’s what you need to do: Set aside 30 minutes to an hour and write down two to three of your weaknesses. Think about hard feedback you’ve received from someone you trust, a sensitive issue you tend to shy away from because it’s difficult to confront, or an unfruitful pattern you keep repeating that’s not serving you. Once you’ve identified the weaknesses, remind yourself that perfection is *literally* impossible and that making note of weaknesses provides an opportunity for growth.
This is a chance to practice grace and love for yourself – not a moment for a painful, rigid critique. Simply identifying your pain points puts you on a trajectory of improvement, and that’s the goal here. With self-love in mind, write down ways you can take steps toward improving upon this weakness today, next week, and next month.
4. Expand Your Mind in New Ways
It might feel impossible to make time for ourselves, but there’s a good chance you probably have a bit more time than you realize. Even if it’s just 60 minutes a day – an hour spent away from the TV or a computer or your phone – investing in your mind is a perfect way to challenge yourself. This might include anything from joining a book club, learning a new language, trying your hand at a new skill, or taking up a new hobby.
“This is something that is essential for us and our overall wellness. Even if you’re not used to reading, or you choose to focus on a new subject or skillset you want to learn, you’re naturally pushing yourself,” says Dr. Smerling. She adds, “Trying an activity like this may also push someone out of their comfort zone because we are being introduced to a new environment with people we have not met.”
Determined to keep your goals in 2023? Here’s our best advice for making new year’s resolutions stick well beyond the first couple weeks of the year. (Number 4 might sound kind of weird, but we promise it’s a game-changer!)
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