Ah yes, a new year. A time for reflecting on the previous year and making plans for the one ahead. I saw on the news the other night that “losing weight” and “getting fit” were the top resolutions people make each year. Apparently, they are also the ones people fail at most. I’ve not seen the research on this, but the news piece did interview owners of yoga studios, fitness facilities, and weight loss centers who indicated that while enrollment and attendance increases in January, by March, it has dropped down close to the pre-new year numbers.
Both “losing weight” and “getting fit” are arguably leisure-related resolutions – both often require engagement in a variety of activities during one’s free time be it yoga, going to the gym, walking, or snowshoeing. However, there are some other resolutions one might consider that would support increasing knowledge about leisure or may spark a new interest. I considered five resolution I could make that might afford me greater success than the reported success for “lose weight” and “get fit” resolutions. These resolutions fit with my mantra for the year – “aim low, go slow” (more on that in the next blog post). They are not ambitious resolutions, but they are ones that could lead to increased leisure satisfaction, improved wellness, and happiness.
1. Visit one new facility that offers leisure experiences in your community or nearby community. Although I’ve lived in my current community for 31 years of my life (the first 19 years of my life and the last 12), there are some facilities (e.g., museums, art galleries, arenas, community centers, churches, library, trails, parks) that offer leisure experiences that I have not yet been in. Exploring spaces that you haven’t been before is a great way to expand your leisure awareness – learn what happens in the space (e.g., go to a recreation center and ask for a tour), watch what happens in the space, and consider whether you may want to be a participant in one capacity or another.
2. Take in part of one annual community event you haven’t participated in before. So many communities and organizations within communities put on annual events such as festivals; celebrations; runs, walks, or bikes for causes; and tournaments. Considering taking in just one part of one of these events at some point this year. Choose one event that you haven’t explored before and think about how you could participate. Could you volunteer for a charity run or simply just go cheer on those who are taking part? Take your children along and use it as an opportunity to teach them about the importance of these events. There may also be an opportunity for you to engage differently in an annual event. For example, perhaps you always attended the same part of a community festival (e.g., a parade, a dinner). Take in another aspect. If you attend a cultural festival, but never try the sampling of food – give it a try. I’m not suggesting you give up the parts of festivals and events you enjoy, but rather that you expand your knowledge of or experience other aspects.
3. Get outside 1 hour more often a week than you currently do. This is one of my biggest goals for winter 2014. I’m not fond of the cold – something that can’t be avoided in my corner of the world. One could say I have a downright negative attitude toward it. My tendency is to hibernate in the winter evenings. I want to try to get outdoors more. I have warm clothes. There is no reason I can’t. I’m setting a small goal – one hour a week. Maybe an after dinner walk for 30 minutes twice a week. Maybe a nice long walk on a sunny weekend. Maybe some playtime in the snow. I’ve got about 12 weeks to experiment with getting that 1 hour of outdoor time and fresh air into my winter routine. I’m hoping it will help me shift my attitude about winter.
4. Learn about one new leisure activity or experience. For Christmas, my sister got me a book on geocaching. I’ve heard of it and know of people who have done some geocaching, but I know very little about it beyond that. The gift of this book is a chance to explore this activity more and play a little bit with it myself. I don’t need to become a passionate geocacher (although if that happens, that’s fine). I look at it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge of an activity and expand my leisure repertoire… once I know something about it, I’ll know better if it’s something that can meet particular needs. Scan what is offered at local facilities and do some research on activities you don’t recognize (e.g., I learned about “barre fitness classes” a few months ago after noticing they were offered by my campus recreation services. I haven’t taken a class in yet, but I know a little more about it and what benefits I could get from participating.
5. Plan one get together or experience with a friend you haven’t connected with in a while. Busy lives sometimes leave us saying to some of our friend, “We’ll have to get together” or “Let’s do coffee sometime”. Lack of time, lack of energy, and conflicting schedules can all be constraints to leisure experiences with friends. The days and weeks and months slip by. However, maintaining social relationships with friends are important to our mental and physical well being. Make a resolution to invite a friend for dinner or dessert or out to a movie or bowling. You could combine a couple of resolutions – try a new activity with a friend you haven’t connect with in a while. If you need to, set a date weeks in advance and commit to making it a priority.
We set goals related to our health (e.g., eat better, lose weight), appearance (e.g., lose weight), and work (e.g., increase sales, get promotion, accomplish something specific). We must not forgot to attend to our leisure lives and the new year provides a chance to sit back and think about goals we can set in that area of our lives!
Happy New Year!