Hello January

Fitness influencer Jessica Sturdy of Bows & Sequins wearing a mink beanie, American Eagle striped henley sweater, Lululemon leggings, and Adidas Flashback Sneakers with a Dunkin Donuts Energy Cold Brew and a yoga mat at the Core Power Yoga in the South Loop of Chicago with a view of the skyline and Willis Tower.

Sometimes I think January gets a bad rap. Sure, setting a bunch of unrealistic or unattainable goals at the start of the year can probably have more negative than positive consequences, and I know the statistics that most people usually give up on their resolutions by the second week in January. But as someone who loves to reflect and also to plan, I personally love January. January tends to be a slower month for me, both work wise and with social plans, so it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year, do some journaling, get clear on my intentions for the year ahead, make a vision board, set some goals, and set myself up for success with some new habits. And that’s a lot of what I’ve been up to this month!

This post is all about my personal goals for January, which I’m hoping become more like habits for the rest of the year.

Reduce Screen Time

This one is a toughie because a lot of my job is on my phone. (Editing pictures and videos, posting and interacting on Instagram and all of the other social media apps, etc.) But I’m trying to be very intentional of not getting sidetracked by scrolling, notifications, etc. I swear, half the time I pick my phone up to do something specific, 10 minutes later I’m lost in something else and haven’t done the thing I picked up my phone to do in the first place. I can’t even remember that thing! I hate it so much. So, I’m trying my best to not have my phone around a lot of the time to break that habit. At our condo, my ‘office’ is upstairs and when I want to get a good chunk of writing done or know I shouldn’t need my phone for anything, I’ve been trying to leave it down in the kitchen or our bedroom. Thankfully I don’t have kids or a boss that could be trying to get ahold of me, and yes, I’m late to the game on a lot of texts, but I figure if something is urgent, I’ll get a call.

If you’re not able to separate yourself from your phone for whatever reason, you can check out this post I wrote years ago about turning off notifications.

But the big thing for me is actually not sleeping near my phone, which deserves it’s own category

Not Sleeping Near My Phone

I know I’ve talked about ‘sleep hygiene’ here on the blog before, but I spent all of my twenties not being able to sleep at night. And, truthfully, it wasn’t until I started taking medication for my anxiety (at 30) that I was able to consistently sleep through the night.* But in my 20s, I had a whole system to set myself up for the greatest chance of being able to get some sleep. One of the main things was not sleeping with my phone right next to my bed!

*I absolutely still have nights where I can’t fall asleep. But they’re much fewer and farther between! And I’ve been able to pinpoint a few causes, but that probably deserves it’s own post.

Thinking back, I believe this actually stemmed more from waking up on time… Since it would take me hours upon hours to fall asleep, by the time my alarm was going off in the morning, I had only been asleep for a few hours and had a bad habit of unconsciously turning off my alarm in my sleep. You can imagine all of the flights, calls, classes, and meetings that I missed and the absolute dread and panic that would wash over me when I finally woke up. Not a great start to the day!

I started sleeping with my phone in my kitchen or at my desk, or anywhere that would require me to get up and take multiple steps before turning off the alarm. I figured out that once I had stood upright and taken a couple of steps, my mind would have woke up a bit and I’d be way less likely to let myself lie back down.

Anything you read about sleep hygiene tells you that you should avoid screen time before bed, which is obviously much easier if your phone is not right next to your bed. I’ve also noticed a pattern where if I wake up in the middle of the night and reach for my phone, it’s VERY likely that I’ll be up for a few hours. Whereas if I wake up and just lay there in the dark, I’ll most likely fall back asleep.

I will say, with how scattered my brain usually is (#ADHDProblems), I’m queen of the notes. I’m constantly jotting something down in the Notes app on my phone or covering my desk in Post-Its. Especially as I’m trying to fall asleep or wind down before bed, alllllll of the things I need to remember come rushing to the forefront of my mind. So I’ve actually started sleeping with a mini notepad and a pen on my nightstand to jot things down when I don’t have my phone.

But the number one most important reason that I don’t sleep with my phone next to my bed is THE NEXT MORNING! When Dave and I started dating, I got into the habit of sleeping with my phone on the nightstand at his place. When I was at my apartment, I was still pretty good about sleeping with it out of my bedroom, but once we moved into our condo this past summer, I somehow forgot about the last decade of good habits.

So far in January, and even some of December, I’ve been sleeping with my phone in our bathroom and it’s been an absolute game changer in the mornings. (My watch actually does my first alarm, which I’ll get to later.) My morning routine looks a little like this… Wake up, put on my dog walking outfit, take Marley for a 20-30 minute walk, feed her breakfast, make coffee, make the bed, write in my 5 Minute Journal, and then conquer whatever I need to do that day. Sometimes I workout, sometimes I head right up to my computer, and sometimes I need to check my phone. But at the minimum, that’s at least 45 minutes of being awake without looking at my phone and it makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE in the state of my mind!

I’m able to have that time to get some fresh air, think about the day ahead, and not be sidetracked or stressed by something on my to-do list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not avoiding the things I need to take care of, but more so setting boundaries and giving myself the time I need in the morning to get my mind right. And don’t even get me started about when I happen to spend some of my morning scrolling, like I’ve caught myself doing countless times in the first six months we’ve lived here. I always start playing the comparison game and telling myself all of the things I ‘should’ be doing… Shoot, I should make a Reel about X. Crap, I haven’t shared Y yet. Ugh, I need to do Z. You get the idea.

TLDR: My mental headspace is drastically better when I’m not on my phone first thing in the morning. Whenever I’ve seen this referenced in books or articles, they call it getting to be proactive about your day, instead of being reactive to whatever you’re met with on your phone.

5 Minute Journal

I know I’ve waxed poetically about how much I love my 5 Minute Journal for YEARS! I’m pretty sure I started the habit in 2015 and I’ve filled up countless journals since then. But, again, once I started dating Dave and not being at my own apartment every morning, my beloved morning routine went to the wayside. And it took me a solid SIX MONTHS* after we moved to truly establish a new routine that worked for me, but also worked for Dave and Marley’s schedules, too. Lots of trial and error!

*Another side note and reminder to be gentle with yourself during/after big life changes. Somehow we’ve been conditioned to think we should be so good at change and be able to bounce right back after a life event, but I’ve found it takes me a hell of a lot longer to adjust than I’d like to admit.

I’ve been back into the habit of writing in my 5 Minute Journal everyday and I just love how it puts me in a place of gratitude to start my day, allows me to think about my intentions for the day ahead, and also gives me space to reflect on the day before I go to bed.

It’s such an easy way to start a journaling practice! The idea is to spend a couple of minutes with the journal in the morning, and a couple of minutes in the evening, totaling about five-ish minutes per day. The prompts are the exact same every day… In the morning: three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make the day great, and a few lines for affirmations. And at night, a few lines to reflect on the day. You can see an example page here!

If you’d like to order a Five Minute Journal, or any other product from Intelligent Change, they gave me a code for you to use to save 10%! Code: JESSICAS10  But totally understand if you’d rather order from Amazon and get it ASAP! 😘

Read Before Bed

Pretty simple to explain this one, but since I’m not sleeping with my phone next to my bed*, I’m replacing that scrolling and screen time with reading. I have a habit of buying every book I want to read and not actually making time to read them, so I’ve got quite the stack of books to make my way through! I started the year reading ‘Blowing My Way to the Top’ by Jen Atkin and I’m currently reading ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear.

*Maybe it’s just because I’m now reading Atomic Habits, but it’s pretty cool to see how good habits compound on each other!

Damp January

I looked back and the first time I mentioned my ‘Sober Curiosity‘ was in March of 2019. Here we are, almost four years later, and I’m just now taking any action to follow that curiosity. I mentioned this on my Instagram stories earlier this month (saved to this highlight), but I want to be more intentional about drinking alcohol this year and hope to experiment with periods of sobriety, which I’m coining ‘Sober Stretches‘ or ‘Sober Stretching.’

I kicked off the month by not drinking for a full week, and honestly, I don’t know the last time that happened. If I had to guess, probably before the Pandemic when I had a terrible case of the flu in February of 2020. (Tested positive for Influenza A, so I don’t think it was early Covid, but who knows. I also had a crazy cough from January to March that year.)

Looking back, I believe I stopped drinking wine at home when I fractured my ankle in January of 2017. Since I wasn’t able to workout, I was looking to cut calories where I could and made it a ‘rule’ to never drink at home unless I was entertaining. And that just kind of stuck… Until Covid. 🙄  But even in the early days of the pandemic, I had a little rule that I couldn’t drink every day, so I would always skip at least one day in between.

And then I met Dave, haha. Are we sensing a trend that all of my ‘good’ habits were tested once I met him?? 🤪 I’m kidding, but it’s just a testament to all of the single girlies out there — relationships come with their own sets of changes and challenges so soak up all of the self-care time you can while you’ve got it! It’s taken me over two years to get back intoa ‘my-self-care-comes-first’ place.

But anyway, I’ve always loved wine and I’ve truly met my match with Dave and his family. 😅 We loooove to drink wine. And since the entirety of Dave and my early days of dating happened at home (we met in September of 2020), I got soooo used to drinking wine at home. Restaurants and bars were only open outdoors and since winter came in October that year, we spent most of our ‘dates’ at his place. So even once it felt like we were past the ‘dating’ phase, it was just second nature to open a bottle of wine at night. Even if one of us would question ‘Should we??’ the other would usually say yes.

Since Dave doesn’t really have any interest in drinking that much less, I’ll admit that I was a little bit worried about me not drinking. What does that look like for us?? I even asked him if he felt like I was ‘catfish-ing’ him by not drinking the other day. 😂 Thankfully, he’s very supportive and doesn’t really care either way.

Walk 10k Steps/Day

The main reason I got my Halo View was to track my steps. Since I’m trying to reduce my screen time and have my phone on me less, I wasn’t logging my walks with Marley on my daily step count. Especially since we have two sets of stairs at our place, I love how I’m now tracking all of my steps around our apartment, not just when I have my phone in my hand. Same for tracking my Peloton workouts, too! I like that all of my health data is being tracked more accurately in one place, not on my phone.

Peloton Monthly Challenges

And beyond my step goal, I’ve made it a goal to hit ‘gold’ on all of the monthly challenges on Peloton! A little overview if you don’t use or aren’t familiar with the Peloton app… You can electively join challenges each month for cycling, strength, and overall active days. You can earn badges for Bronze, Silver, and Gold in each of these categories. I’m sure it sounds silly if you’re not a Peloton user, but it definitely helps me going and keeps me accountable for my health-related goals! Even Dave has come around to the gamification and likes competing with his friends and coworkers for miles biked during the month.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Over

My favorite quote from Dave’s dad is, “No matter how far you’ve gone in the wrong direction, it’s never too late to turn around.” I forget who actually said that, but it’s such a great piece of advice that I always find myself repeating.

If your January didn’t get off to the best start, it’s not too late to turn it around. (And believe me, I’ve been there before!) Make February 1st the start of your ‘New Year!’ Or even the third Wednesday of the month, who cares. It’s a mindset more than anything, so don’t get caught up in the day or date! Saying all of that with lots of love, as it’s something I’ve needed to tell myself in years past. 😘


Photo Originally Posted: January 2019

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