4 core values to level up in the new year that don’t involve changing your whole life

The phrase “new year, new you” seems to be plastered everywhere during the month of January. It’s preached in weight-loss commercials, accompanies haircut selfies on Instagram, and finds its way into hopeful conversations about life changes we plan to make in the new year. But with this declaration of imminent improvement comes inevitable disappointment. One year can’t change an entire person, and believing that it will simply sets us up for failure.

We’re all works in progress, so why don’t we flip the phrase “new year, new you” to “new year, new learnings.”

It’s easy to get caught in the day-to-day hustle of routines. Busy schedules and important professional and social tasks can allow your “me time” to fall by the wayside, understandably. But when was the last time you sat down and really thought about who you are—your desires, your goals, your political leanings, your sexual cravings, your current state of physical and mental health? You can’t target specific areas of self-improvement if you don’t take the time to learn where you need some extra TLC. Plus, making a half-baked resolution like “take better care of myself” isn’t going to change anything.

From our sexual needs to our political views to our relationship habits, we’re taking a deep dive into who we really are to start mapping out where we need to improve from there.

Below, four areas of our lives we’re taking time to truly learn about this year.

Four core values to level up in the new year

1Our sexuality

This is the year we’re reclaiming our female pleasure. Many of us allow our sexual needs and desires to fall by the wayside—whether we blame our busy schedules, brush it off as unimportant, fall into the trap of thinking it’s taboo to explore, or just become lazy in the sexual arena, we all make excuses for not prioritizing our sexual needs. Take time this year to further explore your sexuality—what turns you on? What turns you off? Try new toys, partners, whatever you desire. It’s not selfish to explore your sexuality—it’s what we deserve as women. The more you know, the better all of your sexual activities will be (and who would complain about that?), so start learning!

Expert-backed articles to help:

2Our relationship habits

Relationships are at the forefront of our lives, whether it’s our romantic relationships, friendships, family, or colleagues. They shed a light on good and bad habits we incorporate into our lives—how we approach conflict, how we give and receive affection, and how we view ourselves. No relationship is perfect, but how do we know where we really have room for improvement?

A good place to start is by taking the love language test and the enneagram test.

Although “love” is in the title, understanding which love languages you speak can impact every relationship in your life, not just the romantic ones. Once you learn how you best receive love (through acts of service, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, or gifts), you can reflect on how this has affected your relationships. Let’s say your love language is acts of service. Are you expecting too many selfless acts from the people in your life to the point where you’re setting yourself up for disappointment? You can’t necessarily change your love language, but you can reframe it so that you don’t fall into the same negative habits again.

The Enneagram test categorizes the human psyche into nine personality types, and it’s shockingly accurate. After you take the 10- to 20- minute online test, you’ll be assigned a number, along with qualities and tendencies specific to that number. I’m a number three with two as a close second, so some of my positive qualities are that I’m adaptive, generous, and driven, whereas my negative qualities are that I’m possessive and image-conscious. Knowing your key personality traits can be helpful in navigating workplace and relationship dynamics, and striving toward overall self-improvement.

Expert-backed articles to help:

3Our stance on social issues

Politics aren’t exactly the sexiest thing to talk about, and I’m guilty of pushing these conversations to the back-burner. Especially with 2020 being an election year, now’s the time to really dive deep into learning about your political leanings. What causes are most important to you? That might be the easy question to answer, but then the real questions begin: What actions are taking place around said causes? Which candidates are advocating for what? How can you get involved? What social issues have you not taken the time to learn about and decide to take a stand on?

As Michelle Williams noted in her Golden Globes speech, "Women 18 to 118, when it is time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest. It is what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them. But don't forget that women are the largest voting block in this country. Let's make it look more like us."

Take the time to figure out what you want to see more of in the world, who is pushing for those changes, and how you can add some sparks to the fire.

Political news articles to help:

4Our mental and physical health

Although many New Year’s resolutions are formed around the idea of “becoming healthier,” some are not framed with a healthy mindset. Writing down “lose weight” as a goal will only harm your mental health when the number on the scale doesn’t read what you hoped it would. Instead of setting a quantitative goal like this, take a look at your lifestyle—are you prioritizing exercise, healthy eating, and sleep? It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day shuffle when we don’t even notice which habits are damaging our physical and mental health.

While we all have different eating and exercising habits, sleep is a non-negotiable. Proper sleep can make or break your day, so try to prioritize it above watching the next episode of your latest Netflix show. The key is to start small when striving for a healthier lifestyle—download one (or two!) sleep-tracking apps to help you understand your sleeping habits, like SleepScore and Good Morning Alarm Clock. Understanding just how well (or not well) you sleep will make changing those habits more attainable.

Expert-backed articles to help:

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