Sort of New Year Resolution: the 7th Habit and Mental Renewal

Honestly, I’m not that into New Year’s resolutions, at least not exclusively in January. We each have a different style and pace for setting and reaching goals; in my case it varies from year to year, even month to month. And partly to take the pressure off the new year, partly to minimize [my perception of] failure, and mostly because I think it yields the most results, I make and work on goals any old time a need strikes me throughout the year. So rather than preach to you about the best way to be newly awesome in 2018, I’ll tell you my latest inspiration and what I’m doing about it.

I’m currently reading the oldie but goodie The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I recommend it! Today I read (okay, listened to… audiobooks!) about the seventh habit: taking daily time for personal renewal in “all four aspects of our nature.”

  • Physical– exercise, nutrition, stress management
  • Mental– reading, visualizing, planning, writing
  • Social/Emotional– service, empathy, synergy, security
  • Spiritual– spiritual reading, study, and meditation

I’m doing pretty well (certainly not my best ever, but I’ve accepted I’ll never be a college athlete again) at nutrition and exercise; bodypump at the gym and running a few times a week, trying to work a yoga and abs sessions in too. Just trying to stay consistent at this point and more veggies.

In the social/emotional category I cater to my three small children all day every day and teach children’s choir at church each week (volunteer), on top of which I volunteered 18 weeks of last year to paint 32 illustrations for a family history children’s book and maxed out on all the good deeds in December. Service=check. Though I’ve been meaning to look into the local San Antonio refugee center for ways our family can help…

I’m currently on track with daily spiritual study, but want to kick it up a notch; I have no idea how to meditate and have wanted to for years. I think I’ll learn this year. At the very least it’s less time I’m yelling at unruly boys, right? Any great recommendations for me?

But the area I’m definitely weakest at the moment is mental. Maybe because I have way too much pride invested in being smart. Maybe because I’m watching too many episodes of Suits and miss the stimulation of grad school and my lobbying days. I’m also thinking about it because my husband suggested just this week that learning something early each morning might combat some of my boredom woes. I’m getting better at reading again—I read more books in 2017 than I have in almost a decade (yay for a goal actually met!)—but it’s not quite enough. My brain is atrophying and I need more!

So as I was brainstorming what I realistically have the discipline and resources to do to “mentally renew,” I remembered something my spectacular cousin Phoebe introduced to me: EdX courses at Over 1,800 FREE courses in 30 subjects given by Oxford, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Georgetown, Brown, Columbia, Princeton, and many other universities, both domestic and international. No application necessary, everyone is welcome, and almost 1,000 of the currently offered courses are self-paced. You can learn just for fun or earn certificates or college credit in some cases.

Brush up on history, learn a new language, or do something new and scary like computer science or law (cue Suits theme song). I know education, design, or a finance class would be directly useful in my current roles. So many possibilities!

Tell me you’re not as excited as I am right now! Friends, keeping your brain challenged does wonders for your self-esteem, that I know. I’m still deciding where to dive in, but if you’ve taken an Edx course in the past or try one after reading this, please let us know what you think.

Happy New Year! Or just happy new day!




6 thoughts on “Sort of New Year Resolution: the 7th Habit and Mental Renewal

  1. I’m all about the idea of meditation and really, really want to spend time on it. I don’t currently have a routine, but I have tried an app that was the most basic beginner version of guided meditation. I’ve only done it a handful of times, but intend on being more consistent. Check out the headspace app.

  2. I also recommend the app Headspace for meditation. There’s quite a lot in there. My husband has been using it for months. And we also use it for our 4 year old at bedtime because she has a hard time transitioning from the day to sleep. Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m excited about all the recommendations I’m getting. Great idea for little ones, too.

  3. Awesome post! The Calm app has transformed my ability to sleep (e.g. after being woken by a toddler in the middle of the night, or when my brain hits the overthinking accelerator at bedtime) and has great guided meditations. The premium version is pricey (but worth it to me a second year in a row), but the free version has some great content too.

    Headspace has great free content too! There are a lot of options and styles to explore there. I just go with Calm instead because it’s consistently well curated and works for me.

    1. What a fabulous recommendation, thank you, Bethany! I’m encouraged to see that many people I respect meditate regularly.

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