As the New Year approaches, we are all looking back at accomplishments, trials, and experiences of 2015 and looking forward to what is to come in 2016. Many people, in an attempt to better themselves, choose a New Year’s Resolution come January. Usually, these resolutions are sidelined after a few weeks as real life picks back up and another year goes by with regret and abandoned promises.
The reasons that New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside vary, but much of that failure stems from mindset. Let’s not limit our resolutions to just a new year--let’s call them life resolutions and endeavor to create sustainable change.
Here are five resolutions to adapt any time of the year and my suggestions on sticking to them!
- Travel more. What would you do if you won the lottery? The most common responses to that question involve spending money on expensive new “toys”, charitable giving, paying off debts, and travel. So many people claim that if they won the lottery, they’d want to travel the world. What people, mainly Americans, don’t really seem to understand, is that you don’t have to be rich (by American standards) to travel. Actually, by being born in the U.S., you already have a leg up on about 75% of people in the world who, by chance of birth country or exchange rate, will be extremely limited in their ability to travel. We are very lucky to be in such a position and I believe everyone should make an effort to take advantage of opportunities to explore more. All it takes is planning, a bit of saving, and time. In fact, in many places of the world, you can live significantly cheaper than your day to day life in a U.S. city. And people who travel often reap benefits like gaining perspective, exploring new cultures, becoming more empathetic, and learning about themselves and the world. According to experts, travel is also linked to better health and a decreased risk of depression, heart disease, and certain cancers. If travel is something that you’ve always dreamed of, why wait? Make it happen. Check out our other resources and articles on how we afford to travel!
- Learn a new language. Aside from the obvious benefits to your resume and ease of travel, countless evidence shows that people who speak more than one language are smarter, better at perception and multitasking, and less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you’re looking to improve yourself this year (and forever!) you cannot go wrong with learning a new language. Personally, I’m a bit torn on this one. I’m still deciding if I should concentrate my efforts on perfecting my Spanish or starting French or Portuguese (or Italian, or Mandarin...obviously I have some prioritizing to do).
- Read more. When was the last time you read a book? When was the last time you indulged in a Netflix binge? I’m assuming that the latter was more recently. Now, I love Netflix as much as the next person, but let’s not fool ourselves that these addictions are healthy. On the other hand, reading (specifically, books) is linked to increased intelligence, more empathy, a better vocabulary, improved job prospects, and a sharper mind (which may even help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s). Getting lost in a book is a wonderful way to unwind and de-stress while bettering yourself and even learning something new. Get in the habit of ending your day with reading for at least 20 minutes before going to sleep.
- Be healthier. Now, this one is up to interpretation a bit. As there are countless ways to improve your health, you must choose what is most important for you to start. Perhaps it’s setting (and sticking to) an exercise regime or endeavoring to improve your nutrition. Maybe it’s increasing your mindfulness through meditation or yoga practice. Or maybe it’s working on your emotional health by improving your relationships with yourself and others. The biggest cliches of New Year’s Resolutions are those revolving around losing weight and burning out by February. Don’t become a statistic--set your goal, write it down, tell others about it, and incorporate it into your everyday life. It’s not a New Year’s Resolution, it’s a life resolution.
- Care more. If you’re truly looking to improve yourself, start by improving how you treat others. Take the time to learn about what is happening in your community and in the world. Practice gratitude, empathy, and mindfulness. You will be happier and healthier because of it. (And for a few easy steps to increase your social consciousness, take a look at the post I wrote a few months ago!)
In the end, only you can take the steps necessary to change your life for the better. Stop making excuses and start living the life you’ve imagined.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!