It's that time again. That time of year when everyone picks a New Year's resolution, only to forget about it 2 weeks later. Gym memberships will skyrocket, delivery meals will appear on everyone's Instagram feed, and whole 30 recipes will take over Facebook....for maybe a month. Then gym regulars can delight in knowing that their overcrowded sanctuary will return to normal, and users can safely return to social media sites without fear of feeling inadequate when looking at meals.
Why do we do this to ourselves every year? Why make resolutions we know we can't stick to? Is losing 10 lbs really worth it? Do you really need an expensive gym membership that you'll never use, because you don't have an all Lululemon closet or because you're not skinny enough to workout in public yet? To say nothing of giving up cheese, the best part of your day.
This year, pick a resolution you can stick to. Challenge yourself with attainable goals, and meet them. Sounds cliche, right? Well, here are a few things everyone should do this year. Pick one off this list and start making things happen! And then pop some champagne, because you deserve it.
Be present. Challenge yourself to live in the real world. Turn your phone on silent and stick it in your purse or pocket when meeting up with friends or having dinner with loved ones. Get back in the habit of having a conversation without turning to Google every 10 seconds, without the interruption of a text message or Facebook notification. You'll be amazed at how much the quality of conversation improves when you both set down your screens. In my house, we have a "no phones at the table" rule during meals, and we try to leave our phones alone to talk about our day with each other every night. In exchange, we've found that we can offer solid support and advice to each other when we're really listening, instead of the grunts and nods that often accompany a conversation with someone occupied by their screen. Try incorporating screen-free time into your day, and see how much more relaxing and enjoyable your time is.
Make something. Remember when you were in elementary school, and you were forced to do craft projects at school? Even if you sucked at coloring, or crafting, or gluing, at the end of the day you had something to bring home to your parents, who were more than happy to pin it on the fridge. Believe it or not, it's still pretty satisfying. Charge yourself with creating something by the end of the year, whether it's a painting, a new recipe, an original song; a short story, or a crocheted blanket; a craft project or an awesome entertainment center. Just be sure it's something you can step back and say you made with your two hands. At the end of the year, you'll know that you accomplished something, you added to the beauty of this world.
Give back. You know all those cliche quotes about how helping someone else makes you happier? The ones that make you cringe at the end of a particularly bad day, when all you want to do is shut yourself in your bath tub with a good book and a large glass of wine? (I mean, do that too - nothing eases stress like a good soak). Well, they're cliches for a reason. This year, make a point to give back to your community. It can be as small as starting a group - a good book club can do wonders for the community - or spending your lunch hour delivering for Meals on Wheels. Many areas have mentorship programs where you can help reach elementary school students who may lack a role model or who need an extra hand. Volunteer at the local animal shelter; donate canned food for a food drive. Take an extra Angel Tree child at the holidays next year or offer to coach a soccer team. The more you do for others, the more thankful you can be for what you have in your life. And who knows, you might just find someone or something with whom you really connect.
Do something that scares you. It doesn't have to be jumping out of an airplane, if that's not your thing. But do something that scares you before 2016 is over. Move to a new city; start a brand new job. Apply for grad school; go to a bar or dinner by yourself. Try a new sport or activity. Skydive. Take a vacation by yourself. Conquering something new, something totally unknown will help you realize all that you are capable of, and may just end up being one of the best decisions you ever made.
Travel. Small or large-scale, travel is essential to life. If you can't afford a big trip this year, keep your goals attainable. Instead, challenge yourself to visit local cities or towns you've never seen; see if you can visit at least three new places this year. If your travel budget is a little bigger, try visiting at least two new states. Or leave the country for the first time. Expose yourself to new and different cultures; take in all the history of the new place. Learn about its people, its way of life. Discover what makes it unique. Try new foods and experience new ways of life. Don't confine yourself to any one place, time, or city; see as much as you can.
Find a hobby. Do you ever feel like all you do is eat, sleep and work? I know I do. As a child, I loved to read; now I think of my one week-long summer vacation as the only time I get to read books. Get rid of that mentality! Take up a hobby, new or old, and stick with it. Always wanted to read the classics? Pick one or two to read in 2016. Love hiking but never find the motivation? Challenge yourself to hike 1 trail a month. A fan of yoga but never go? Start practicing at home on Saturday mornings. Or learn something new - take guitar lessons or practice your calligraphy. Whatever it is, it will make your soul happy to do something that's just for you.
Put money into savings. Now, I'm not saying you have to start a budget and stick to it. Baby steps here, people. But if you're someone like me who prefers to spend money on experiences rather than have it sitting in the bank, your savings account might look a little sparse when it's needed on a rainy day. So set up a direct deposit from your checking account each month, and put a little into savings every paycheck. That way, when you look at your bank account, you don't cringe quite as much. And who knows, it might actually lead to fiscal responsibility! (Yeah, I know it's a long shot. But I'm trying, Dad!)
What New Year's Resolutions are you making this year? Share in the comments below!