Friend. I just want to remind you (and myself) that January 1st is just a day on a calendar... it's never too late to make 2015 intentional. You haven't blown it, and in fact you never will. He gives more grace, always. So who's to say that February 2nd isn't just as good of a day to get started?
My best advice? Start small. (It's the little steps that help you attain those big, dreamy, intimidating goals rolling around in the back of your head.)
1. SET OUT A BOWL OF FRUIT. Research says that people who have fruit bowls on their kitchen counters weigh eight pounds less than those who don’t. Turn your mindless midday snacking into serious produce consumption. You could even keep one on your desk at work (you might find a new fruit you really love). I started bringing apples with me to work every day and figured out they cure my insane 3:00 thirst AND keep me full until dinner – winner!
2. EAT BREAKFAST. Various studies find that breakfast eaters weigh less than those who don’t, and that the vast majority of people who have successfully lost weight eat breakfast. It doesn't have to be complicated, either! Eat some string cheese, keep yogurt in the office fridge, grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door. It makes it that much easier to resist the temptation of a mid-morning piece of chocolate.
3. KEEP MOVING. Gyms are great if you go, but the majority of people don’t. Don't despair! Anyone can squeeze in extra movement here and there. Say that each workday, you take 100 steps while brushing your teeth in the morning, 200 steps during a phone call, and another 100 steps while waiting for food to heat up in the microwave. You’ll end up walking an extra mile each week. Multiply that by how many weeks you work, and you could have 50 more miles in your year!
4. FIGURE OUT TOMORROW’S TO-DO LIST BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Mornings are a great time for getting things done. But if you show up at work unsure of what you want to do, you’ll waste many of these valuable morning minutes figuring it out. Instead, assign yourself tomorrow’s tasks before you leave work at night. It's natural that you’ll probably have to change this schedule more days than not, but having a plan helps you make sure that important things get done.
5. CHANGE YOUR COMMUTE FROM BORING TO BRIGHT. Studies find that the morning commute is, the low moment of people’s days. So take a minute on Sunday night and download a few podcasts to listen to during your drive. Or turn your commute into your regular prayer time. And it doesn't all have to be the same... use some variety! My morning drives are usually my prayer time and on my way home, I test out different Spotify playlists depending on how I'm feeling. This week? I found my iTunes library from high school. Nostalgia.
7. GET SOME FRESH AIR. Getting outside is linked to better mood and concentration. Whatever time you lose in leaving your desk, you’ll likely gain back in renewed focus. Run an errand, grab a Starbucks drink, or ask a co-worker to do a walking meeting if the weather’s nice. You'll come back with fresh ideas (and relaxed, stretched out muscles).
8. SEND ONE HAPPY EMAIL. You send dozens (if not hundreds) of texts and emails daily. Take one minute and type up a note of appreciation, or congratulations, or ask an old friend how life is going. The replies you receive may make you look forward to checking your inbox. Want to give you eyes a break from your screen? Send a note via snail mail. It's just as fun getting something sweet in your mailbox!
9. EMPTY YOUR CHANGE POCKET. There's several ways you can do more with your spare change. There's an app called Acorns that rounds up each of your purchases to the nearest dollar (something I automatically do in my head with my budget anyway) and invests that spare change into a diversified portfolio. SwipeGood does something similar, but uses that spare change for charity. Or just search your pockets and purses. You might be able to swing a surprisingly big donation every six months or so with the nickels fished out of there daily.
10. DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH YOUR WASTED TIME. You’ve got three minutes while waiting in line. You could check your email. You could scroll through Facebook. Or you could do something else! Scroll through favorite old photos, text a friend and ask them how their day is going, read a page of a book (doing this regularly and you could end up reading a lot of books this year), or say hello to someone. That last one terrifies the introvert in me, but it's good for you and your workplace and includes instant endorphins.
11. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. For any of these ideas, find someone to email weekly to report how it’s gone. Even better? Meet up in person. Having an accountability partner is beneficial in an endless number of ways. I have two girls who I meet up with each Saturday for a coffee chat – and when that doesn't work in our schedule, we pick a night to cook dinner together. Being regularly, authentically invested in someone else's life helps you recognize sides of yourself you would've never noticed before – and makes it easier (and more fun) to track your progress. In a pinch? Draw a smiley face on your planner as a reward for keeping a habit all week, then set up a gift to give yourself when you've gotten four smiley face weeks.
These little changes add up to really big, wonderful, amazing things. Be brave. Be bold. Take action. Jesus didn't come to wave a magic wand to save us; He came to do something – serving, giving, teaching, and showing us how to live intentional lives, full of purpose.