Urgh, January. We know we’re not the only ones, a lot of people dread January.
Messaging-wise it’s all ‘New Year, New You’, don’t go out, don’t spend anything, eat salad, ditch booze, get to the gym 7 days a week and don’t forget to hit the kale and apple cider vinegar for that all important detox.
We’re not convinced that following the fun and excess of December with this kind of crazy guilt-based pressure to embrace lifestyle austerity is particularly helpful for our mental or physical wellbeing.
We can choose to make this our most positive and productive January ever. It is just as valid to make it our laziest and most relaxed January. Both of those work, as long as it’s an active choice and we aren’t being railroaded or sleepwalking into one or the other without realising.
New Year’s resolutions are a fast way to being disappointed that you’ve missed another target. Making a long-term change is pretty hard and most resolutions are out of the window by the second Friday of January which has been dubbed ‘Quitters Day’.
Instead we’ve decided to create ‘The #MyBetterJanuary Challenge’. We’ll do something different each day that we feel will be of benefit to us, to other people or the wider community. It’s a range of ideas that taps into our own well-being, improved communication and that also has some social and environmental relevance.
We’ve created a list of the tasks we’ve planned out and we’ll post on social media about what we’re doing each day too. Click here to download the printable PDF below.
It doesn’t just have to be us though, we’d love it if you choose to take part as well. We’ve deliberately kept the tasks widely defined so you can follow them closely or do something within the spirit. We’ve also tried to keep things fairly low-cost so as to be achievable. You could take this on individually, as a family or even a team at work. We know that people have busy lives so achieving every task is unlikely but we hope you can dip in and out as you’d like.
We’re going to speak to some other indie businesses along the way too to get some top tips on how to achieve certain tasks and continue to help some of the fantastic businesses in our town connect with more people.
If you’re going to give it a go we really urge you to record whatever it is that you did in some way. You could make a note in your diary in a different colour, create a Google sheet, take a photo or make a video and make it into a story highlight for Instagram (we’re planning to do this). However you want to do it is fine, but make a record because when you get to the end of the month we think you might be surprised by what you’ve achieved that you wouldn’t otherwise have done.
We’re going to be using #MyBetterJanuary all month to tag our posts so do pop that in any posts and tag us in. We’re really excited to kick our January off in a better way, we hope that you are too.
Good luck with the challenge and if you want to let us know how you’re going to get involved. You can download a handy and easily printable pdf with all of the tasks on here, and/or tune in to our social media feeds for the descriptions and tasks each day.
Here are all 31 tasks:
1st January – Set a Healthy Habit for January. We want to kick off by choosing a little task that you need to complete everyday this month. It could be something for mind, body or soul. It’s completely your choice.
Our recommendation is to choose something that you know you can realistically achieve each day. Make it something you can do first thing if possible because nothing starts the day better than success.
Some ideas might be:
Write a daily journal
Meditate every day (check out the Headspace app for help if this is something you want to try, it’s a great intro)
Commit to getting up a little earlier to make the most of the morning.
Say good morning to every person in work before you sit at your desk.
Learn one new word per day with your child.
2nd January – Send a handwritten letter. We live in a digital age and that’s why it’s so appreciated when someone chooses to pick up a pen rather than tap out a message on Whatsapp or similar. Physical letters are all the better for cherishing and re-reading at a later date. It’s a pretty satisfying thing to do too. Today our challenge is to write a letter to someone you love or have been thinking about. Sending it in the post gains extra bonus points because that’s an exciting thing to receive.
3rd January – Enjoy some time alone. We all love our partners, friends and families, even the extended members and in-laws, but sometimes it’s just nice to have some quiet time on your own to think. We’re all programmed to think of ‘new starts’ at this time of year so January is a natural time for reflection.
If you get a lot of opportunity to spend time on your own you could think about a partner or friend who might not be in the same situation and offer to cover them for an hour or so.
Head for a delicious solo coffee and read the paper, have lunch or a bite whilst you’re out, treat yourself to the cinema – anything really, just make the most of some space.
4th January – Support a local indie business. The start of the year is really tough for indie businesses. That pervading feeling of people being short on cash, whether true or just part of the accepted reality of January, means that sales are significantly lower than the rest of the year whilst costs are often relatively fixed.
January and February were our quietest two months of the year at Baltzersen’s in 2018.
So today, in some small way choose to support one of the fantastic independent businesses we have in Harrogate every little helps around this time of year. If you can’t support them by buying something that’s fine – why not share one of their posts on social media or recommended them to someone you see today.
5th January – Set one goal or create a list of goals for the year. New Year’s Resolutions – we’ve all got some whether we give voice to them or not. Well, we think you should do more than give voice, let’s get them written down.
We’re trying to keep our goals positive this year, focusing on postive changes we’d like to make rather than bad habits we want to kick. Sure, we’d all like to shed a few pounds, but losing weight shouldn’t be a task to centre your whole life around.
If you want to give yourself the best chance of being super-effective you could even set a SMART goal by making your goal Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic and Time-Based. Finally write it down – there are umpteen stats on the improved effectiveness of people that write goals down vs those that don’t.
Some of our staff have shared their goals for the year with us, which include taking more photos of their friends and being a little more present around their family in the evenings. Let us know what your goals are for the year using the hashtag or commenting below.
6th January – Take your decorations down. Yesterday was Twelfth Night so if those Christmas decs are still up it’s time to take them down.
Block 30 mins out to pack the tree and decs away and have a bit of a ‘spruce’ up.
7th January – Remember your reusable. We decided that we no longer wanted to be part of the plastic waste involved with single use disposable cups back in May 2018 and we haven’t used them since.
People ask us all the time about the compostable cups they see elsewhere but these are just as big of a problem because they don’t enter the commercial composting chain – frankly you might as well be using the non-compostable plastic versions.
The best option for making a stand on this issue is to change your habit and bring your own cup. If you don’t take out hot drinks you could remember to take your reusable bags out shopping, take your lunch to work/school in a tupperware style tub rather than using foil or cling film, carry a reusable water bottle or do anything else that reduces the use of some plastic that day.
8th January – Cook from Scratch. We know that money is tight for many people at one time or another in the year. Cooking from scratch is the cheapest and probably healthiest way to feed yourself and your family if you do it right. We’re challenging you to cook one meal from scratch today.
If you are looking for some inspiration then someone to check out is Jack Monroe. Jack is a food author writing cookbooks around cooking on a budget (doing amazing things with tinned food in particular) and a campaigner on food poverty.
9th January – Donate Something. However tough you are finding the month there is usually someone in a worse position. Today we’d like to encourage you to donate something.
You could go shopping and drop something extra in one of the trolleys collecting for a food bank. You could even volunteer your time to a worthy cause (you could agree to do that today and fulfil the promise at a later date).
At Baltzersen’s we’ve been in touch with the Resurrected Bites project at St Mark’s Church on Leeds Road and today Head Chef Martin and owner Paul will be donating their time to serve up a menu using food diverted from food waste.
10th January – Declutter. Our lives (and houses/offices/bedrooms) are filled with things, many of which we don’t need. There has been quite a lot of coverage about people deciding to enrich their lives with experiences rather than material possessions in recent years – it’s something we can support because it means having less stuff.
Take some time today to tackle some area within your living space or workspace and thin out some of the unnecessary stuff. It could be that drawer you’ve left for years, that pile of clothes growing in the bottom of the wardrobe or the dreaded in tray with things left over from the mid-noughties.
If you’re getting rid of things that have a resale value you could consider taking it to a charity shop, especially if you weren’t able to donate anything as part of yesterday’s task!
For extra credit (Americanism) you could watch the documentary film ‘Minimalism’ available from Netflix, it may get you thinking.
11th January – Take a walk. Today is the day to get a lunchtime walk. Why you ask? Well we could say it’s to do with exposure to sunlight but in the UK the sun doesn’t contain enough UVB in January to help the production of vitamin D (you should probably consider taking a supplement….seriously), the fresh air is good though.
It’s more about a bit of activity to stimulate your creative thinking, because a Stanford University study has shown that you may be as much as 60% more creative whilst walking. In their study you don’t even need to go outside for the boost so you could choose to do laps of the lounge or of the office, but why not take the chance to get out.
12th January – Cut yourself some slack. Life is full of things to worry about but to some extent fretting about something is a choice. Generally we can decide to use our energy thinking about a situation or we can do something about it. If your life isn’t that black and white then there is a middle ground too – you can choose to cut yourself some slack.
This day, for one day only (if that’s as much slack as you are willing to give), let it go. Choose to acknowledge that there is a challenge in your life that will need to be faced, and maybe soon, but it doesn’t have to be today and in fact you can put it entirely to one side for a 24hr period.
Cut yourself some slack, we are almost always our own harshest critics. Take the day off from personal criticism.
13th January – Try something new. It is very easy to get stuck in a routine – eating the same, drinking the same, speaking to the same people and walking the same routes. There is nothing explicitly wrong wth this, unless you know it’s a crutch or a habit that comes from a negative place.
What we would encourage you to do today is to try something new. It could be any aspect of your life or your daily routine but change something. It might open up a new world of exploration or it might confirm the reason you do things the same way in the first place, but what’s the worst that can happen?
It’s worth a shot.
14th January – Catch up with someone. We’ve all got one person or more that we mean to see more often, but somehow life gets in the way and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes that’s for good reason and life is doing us a favour, but often that’s not the case.
Today is your chance to meet that person for a drink or at the least organise a definite date to do that.
15th January – Treat yourself. In his world famous leadership book ‘One Minute Manager’, Ken Blanchard encourages leaders to watch their teams and ‘catch someone doing something right’, a little self-application of this theory will do you good. Reward yourself for doing something well.
It could be flowers, a glass of wine, a lie-in or a night off the gym. It doesn’t have to be much and it doesn’t have to break any current resolutions you are still working on but find a reason to treat yourself. Don’t wimp out and say you didn’t do anything to deserve the treat – you did, you just haven’t identified it.
16th January – Reach Out. What is the length of time you can keep seeing someone – it might be every day – and continue to have a very superficial conversation perhaps not even knowing someone’s name? It could be someone you see on your commute, a parent in the playground, a client at work; you’re probably both feeling that it’s too late to introduce yourself again and ask for their name.
Well, not today. Today, right now, is the perfect time to ask.
If you’re thinking of that icebreaker why not tell them about the #MyBetterJanuary challenge and blame it on Baltzersen’s.
Choose someone, reintroduce yourself and connect on a deeper level with that person for the first time. It’ll set you up for some much better interactions in the future.
17th January – Write something nice about a business. How often do we moan about the service we’ve received from a company we’ve been dealing with. It’s an easy thing to do, it feels natural.
Conversely how often do we say – “That was fantastic, thank you very much.” Depending on who you are it might be a regular occurrence and for you this one will be an easy task to complete.
We generalise but as Brits we aren’t hard-wired for effusive praise, the stiff-upper lip is a trope but a hard earned one. Today we’d encourage you to put this to one side, take the plunge and write something nice and positive about a business you’ve had an interaction with over the last month. There are all sorts of places you can do this be it Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews, via Twitter or any other way you see fit. If you enjoyed writing that handwritten letter on 2nd Jan and want to reprise that then go on and post someone a letter.
Do it today, ideally on a public forum – praise a business that did something well.
18th January – Call a friend. Social media gives us a connection to the people that inhabit our lives, even if they are only present from a distance and that is a great thing in many cases. It does give us this slightly strange feeling of knowing what is happening in the lives of our friends despite not having that direct contact in person or via a phone call though. It’s easy to let the habit of talking slip.
Today our task is to call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. It might only be for a few minutes but if they are a good friend, you’ll fall straight back into old habits and the feeling afterwards is worth it.
19th January – Turn your phone off. We’re expecting today to be a bit of a quiet one for interaction because we’d really like to challenge you to turn your phone off for a period of time today. For different people this will be more difficult than others so you should choose your own target that is achievable but also challenging.
You might like to block out some time in the morning to work or do something without digital interruption, or perhaps leave your phone away somewhere once you return home from work or at the end of the day.
This challenge is about being truly present for the other people in your life for that period of time. If you find it useful then this could be a habit that you introduce into your routine from this point forward. There are plenty of us that would benefit from less screen time.
20th January – Go vegan for the day. Well ‘Veganuary’ is officially a thing and has been for some time! Whether it’s for environmental reasons, animal welfare reasons or just deciding to change your diet for a month, lots of people are getting involved by going vegan in January.
If you aren’t already doing veganuary we think today is a good day to give going vegan a try. If it doesn’t convince you to make a longer term change it will raise levels of empathy around what that decision means and how it affects your life.
21st January – Give someone a compliment. If you are anything like us a lot of potential compliments go unsaid on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. We think of things we should/could say to people all the time, but the perfect opportunity doesn’t quite present itself so we say nothing. For the sake of everyone’s happiness we should really try to get over that.
Whether it’s a complete stranger or someone you know, try saying something nice about someone to their face today. It doesn’t have to be about their physical appearance (in fact we’d probably say find something else) – maybe a colleague did a great job on a project lately, perhaps you’re really proud of your partner or child for something they have achieved.
Tell them! And if you happen to be complimented don’t start deflecting, all you have to do is smile and say “thank you very much”.
22nd January – Read. Reading is life. Someone should put that on an inspirational t-shirt.
If you love to read don’t forget how great it is. We are hugely privileged to have free access to thousand of books for free via local libraries as well as instant access electronically to e-books, journals, online articles and magazines. Whether you read because you have a thirst for knowledge, or a love of thrilling and fantastical storytelling or to help find inspiration for you life, love, art or anything else give yourself some time to read today.
If you aren’t into reading then that’s fine. Schedule yourself some time to do whatever it is that invokes the same emotions as books do for us.
23rd January – Clear out your inbox. Those emails! After GDPR came in we thought ‘This is lovely, we’re getting a lot fewer emails than before’, but then somehow they started coming back and now the inbox is deluged on a regular basis.
With the exception of the infrequent but always excellent Baltzersen’s Newsletter we challenge you to unsubscribe from a load of the emails that keep on appearing and that you spend seconds, minutes and cumulatively hours over the year deleting without reading.
Give yourself a 5 minute blast and unsubscribe from as many as possible. You’ll save time in the long run.
24th January – Write a list of things you’re grateful for. We’d recommend not thinking about this one too much before diving into it.
Get a pen and paper and just start listing everything in your life that you’re grateful for. ‘Don’t think about’ it might sound a bit stupid just start listing and don’t stop until you have at least 20 things, then do another 20. Once we get into the swing of it we think you could probably go on to triple figures without breaking sweat.
Sometimes things can go unnoticed and this is a great way of becoming more aware and grateful for what we have rather than always thinking of what we might be missing. Get things in perspective, we may have worked incredibly hard to get where we are and have earned all that we have, but to some extent we are very lucky to have had the opportunities this country affords us.
25th January – Step out of your echo chamber. This is probably one of the more challenging tasks of the month.
There’s a lot going on in the news at the moment concerning leaving the EU and what that will mean. We’re not used to having to defend our views because we surround ourselves with like-minded people and consume media that reflects those views.
Today, why not try and read a different newspaper in the cafe (we have lots available on the magazine racks) or start a respectful, open-minded conversation with someone who may have different views. As you read or talk try to empathise with the views being expressed. It’s going to take a whole lot of empathy on both sides to make it through to a post-brexit reality.
26th January – Be a tourist at home. We’re all so busy that we tend not to notice how lovely our home town is. Today, look up and appreciate the place where you live, check out the local tourist hotspots if you can, and don’t forget your camera – all great explorers have one!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered about your home town that you never knew?
27th January – Make plan for February. It’s important to give yourself something to look forward to. So, whether it’s a treat for yourself or a get together with friends get one thing booked in for February.
28th January – Listen to an album from start to finish. If we’re talking about what sets the mood and the tone for us on a daily basis then the soundtrack to our lives can be a huge part of that.
With streaming completely changing the way many of us consume music the ‘album’ is no longer the musical vehicle of choice for many of today’s consumers – but we think people are missing out. We’d love to know what you’re listening to, how you’re listening and if you like what the album means to you.
Listen to an album from start to finish in the order it was recorded and relive (or try for the first time) what music was like in the last century!
29th January – Say a big thank you. Every single one of us has a thank you sitting inside of us that remains unsaid. It might be owed to a partner, parents, kids, colleagues but we all have at least one.
Get it out today. We say the bigger the better. Don’t just mumble something awkwardly, let’s really go to town on this one. It could be with flowers, a card, that handwritten letter (again!), a gift or just a really honest and genuine face to face conversation.
30th January – Change your routine. You’ve almost made it to the end of January!
If you’ve been with us all month you have tried so many little changes and new things and it’s time for one more. Get out of the house early and take yourself out for breakfast, walk a different route to work, or do something different with your evening today.
Keep up the momentum and do something to change your day.
31st January – Look back at what you’ve achieved in January. Look back at everything you’ve achieved in January.
Are you proud of what you’ve accomplished? Has #MyBetterJanuary pushed you out of your comfort zone?
What’s the one thing (or more) that you did this month that you are going to keep on doing and turn into a habit for 2019?