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Start 2019 Off With 52 Small Things, a New Program from The Mighty

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I’ve always liked making New Year’s resolutions. Keeping my resolutions, however, that’s another story.

Like the majority of people who make resolutions, I go in with good intentions. Unfortunately, my lofty goals are often no match for reality. It’s rare if I make it past January with any substantial progress toward my goal.

Until last year.

After some reflection, I realized my goals were too big and too vague. (One year my resolution was just to “be happier” with no plan that would lead me there.) To make matters worse, I felt if I couldn’t achieve my goals perfectly, I should just abandon them. After years of failure, I told myself I had two choices: Do nothing, or start small and work my way up. I chose the latter.

I started off, like I always do, with a few big goals. I wanted to focus on my health, get organized and practice more self-care. Then I broke those goals down. What does it mean to focus on my health? For me, that meant making sure I was taking my medications as prescribed, exercising regularly and at least five other small health-related tasks I tended to neglect out of convenience — like moisturizing or washing my contact lens case every day.

Then, instead of saying on January 1 I’m going to exercise, take my pills, moisturize and wash my contact lens case and do all of these things perfectly, plus my 15 other goals every day for the next 365 days, I assigned each goal a week. I bought myself a pill organizer and took my pills as prescribed. The next week, I continued taking my pills and moved my contact lens case from my bedroom to the bathroom. Each week I added something new, all while maintaining the weeks before.

It never felt like too much, as it had when I started everything at once. And, if I took something on I didn’t like, find valuable or didn’t need to continue on a weekly basis, I moved on.

It’s now December, and while I don’t do all of these things perfectly (I’ve learned to accept I’m human, another goal), I still do most of them. My contact lens case is still in the bathroom, and the plants I bought myself during week eight continue to thrive.

Moved by my progress, I started to tell family and friends about the small things I did to meet my goals, which brings me to the point of this article.

For the past two years, The Mighty’s has been running monthly self-care challenges through our My Mighty Month program. This year, we’re switching things up and changing it to 52 Small Things — a weekly program we hope will empower you to achieve your goals.

There are a few ways you can take this challenge. You can make a list of 52 small things you’d like to accomplish in 2019, or you can follow our 52 Small Things challenge page and use our suggestions. We’ll be posting the weekly challenges for the month ahead at the end of the month preceding it. The weekly challenges for January will be posted at the end of December, so be sure to follow the 52 Small Things page to stay in the know.

If you want to make your own list, here are some suggestions to help you get started:

Step One: Identify “Improvement” Areas

Identify one or two “improvement” areas you want to tackle in the new year. To start, you’ll want to keep these ideas as general as possible. Areas of focus can include:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Home
  • Finances
  • Romantic relationships
  • Family and friends
  • Self-care
  • Personal development
  • Education

Your choices should be as general as possible. You’ll have time to get specific further on, but for right now, each thing you pick should feel vague.

Step Two: Define Your Goals

Let’s say you picked “home.” What does that mean to you? Perhaps it means cleaning out your closets or moving somewhere new. After you pick your improvement areas, break those down into smaller, more concrete goals. Remember, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, so try and limit your goals to no more than three items per improvement area.

Step Three: Create Your Action Plan

Sticking to the home example above, let’s say your goal is to move to a new apartment. What do you need to make this happen? You may need to save money… how much money? A serious goal, like moving, requires a lot of planning. Think about when you would want to move, the barriers you might face and how long you would reasonably need to make this happen. A big goal like this one may take up the bulk of your 52 weeks.

Other goals like cleaning out your closet will be easier to plan. What do you reasonably need to clean out your closets? If your home has five closets, maybe you can clean one closet per week or a shelf per week. How you break down your goal will depend on what feels reasonable for you. Remember, it’s called 52 small things. Not 52 things that will overwhelm me a month from now because of how impractical they are.

Step Four: Pick Your 52 Small Things

You know where you want to improve. You have your goals and an action plan. Now all you need to do is finalize your 52 action items and order them in a way that will help you achieve your goals. For example, if you are bad at taking your pills, that should be a thing you tackle early on. Don’t wait for week 47 to start taking your pills as prescribed. Learning a new language, on the other hand, is probably a less urgent goal. Maybe use week 30 to begin using an app that will teach you Spanish. ¡Si se puede! (Translation: You can do it!)

If making a full list feels too overwhelming for you, start small. You can plan one month at a time, a season at a time or start with just half the year.

Step Five: Commit to Your Plan

Without commitment, your plan is just a list of items. If you look at your list and don’t feel excited, it’s not going to work. The challenge is about self-care, doing things that will make your life better and make you feel proud of your accomplishments. It’s not a list of chores. Sure, you can work in a plan to clean a room per week, but you should also work in treating yourself kindly. If you don’t love your list, follow along with us and consider adopting some of our suggestions.

Step Six: Give and Get Support

Of course, committing to any year-long plan is no small task. Fortunately, The Mighty community is here to help you stay on track. We encourage you to share your experience with us and the community. By sharing your small things, you might encourage someone to try something new. You can also apply to “host” a week by filling out this form. Hosts get to pick the topic for the week and lead the discussion on The Mighty’s platform.

If you are unfamiliar with how posting on The Mighty works, here’s how to share your experience: 

Start by selecting the Post button in the navigation bar.

post button

  1. In the Post menu, choose Post a Thought. This will open a pop-up window.
  2. If you want, add a title for your Thought in the Title field. Make sure to include the hashtag #52SmallThings.
  3. Share your action plan, weekly goals or progress in the Your Thought field.
  4. Don’t forget to include hashtags related to your post (#MentalHealth, #ChronicIllness, #RareDisease, #Depression, etc.). Including hashtags in your post will make it more likely that the people who follow that topic get to see what you share. Start by typing # then type the hashtag you want to use. You can select an existing hashtag or create your own.
  5. When you’re finished writing and adding your hashtags, select the Post button inside the pop-up window to finish sharing your Thought.
  6. You’ll find your post in your Profile. People who follow you and people who follow any hashtags you used will see your Thought in their Mighty Homefeed.

We can’t wait to see the small things you want to accomplish in 2019! Don’t forget to follow #52SmallThings to see the weekly challenges we pick as well as interact with other community members taking the challenge. Following the page will also sign you up for our weekly challenge emails full of encouragement. We’ll be posting the weekly challenges for January later in December, so make sure you are subscribed!

Originally published: December 3, 2018
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