New Year, New Me!

Is it time to make a change? Here are some approaches to consider when planning those new year resolutions.

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New Year, New Me!

What's the best way to start 2019 off right? Turn the page on the new year and get started by attempting some of the tips listed in the article.

What's the best way to start 2019 off right? Turn the page on the new year and get started by attempting some of the tips listed in the article.

Photo by Elizabeth Niemiec

What's the best way to start 2019 off right? Turn the page on the new year and get started by attempting some of the tips listed in the article.

Photo by Elizabeth Niemiec

Photo by Elizabeth Niemiec

What's the best way to start 2019 off right? Turn the page on the new year and get started by attempting some of the tips listed in the article.

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With a new year comes feelings of renewal and talk of change. The term “resolution” is thrown around left and right on TV, social media, and in conversations. We’ve come to give it a negative connotation, as most of us make promises we don’t intend to keep. Moreover, advertisements that promote gym memberships, dating websites, and diet programs are abundant. It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling that if you aren’t looking to lose weight or looking for love, you’re doing something wrong. And while these are legitimate resolutions, they aren’t for everyone. For those looking for a change in the new year, but unsure of where to start, here’s a list of 15 simpler, though not necessarily easier, goals to achieve in 2019 and some tips to get started with them:

  • Declutter: Do feel as if your room is unnecessarily engulfed in chaos?  Are you still saving that one pair of shoes or that one jacket that you swear you’ll wear again? The new year is the perfect time to rid your life of unwanted items. Go through your closets, shelves, and drawers and separate them into items to be donated, recycled, kept, or thrown away. If you haven’t touched it in years, odds are that you won’t miss it this year and that someone might enjoy it more than you will. Drop unwanted items off at thrift stores or donate them to local charities that are accepting.
  • Spend less time on your phone: It seems that more and more of our time is consumed by constant scrolling or staring at screens, with little personal gain as a result. Certain apps, such as Off The Grid or App Detox can help in kicking this unnecessary habit by restricting the amount of time that you spend on certain apps or your entire phone, thus freeing your time and energy to be concentrated on more worthwhile tasks and conversations and help you live in the moment. Users of Apple products can also use the feature “Screen Time” to set limits.
  • Eliminate plastic/harmful waste: To lessen your environmental impact, gradually eliminate nonessential single-use plastic or styrofoam products from your purchases. Switch out plastic straws with reusable stainless steel straws, or plastic water bottles with refillable metal bottles. In addition, seek to invest in reusable, compostable or recyclable materials.
  • Become an expert in a new craft or hobby: Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano, dance the tango, win at a game of chess, or learn Latin- in 2019 choose something you’ve been dying to cross off your bucket list and put your heart and soul into making it happen. If you are not looking for professional lessons, apps such as Duolingo, Simply Piano, or a simple YouTube search can go a long way! Checking out a “how-to” guide from the library may also be beneficial.
  • Spend more time with friends/family:  Rather than the usual, “We have to get together!” or “Let’s plan something!” conversations that can be passed back and forth between you and your loved ones, and can result in little action taking place, take the time to plan frequent get-togethers. These can be as simple as a shopping trip, visit to a local park or museum, or a movie night. Plan exactly where you want to go and what you want to do to avoid confusion or postponement. Have fun with it!
  • Become more organized: Whether it’s your room or backpack, organization can save time and prevent stress in the long run. Make an effort to establish a system in the way that things are ordered and kept. Though not helpful in all instances, color coding or alphabetization can be effective. Overall, make sure it works for you! Routinely take the time to check and ensure everything is in its proper place. Invest in organizational products and storage, if needed, to help.
  • Stop procrastinating: Procrastination often arises out of the want of relaxation and the pushing off of daunting tasks. More often than not, procrastination results in an unnecessary addition of stress due to lingering deadlines. To prevent this, work to accomplish tasks as soon as they are received, and if too large to accomplish in one sitting, break off portions to accomplish over a period of time to lessen the workload. Writing out checklists and investing in a planner or agenda may help to visualize all that needs to be accomplished and to ensure nothing is put off. In addition, work in time increments, and if helpful, allow yourself a break after certain checkpoints are reached. Think along the lines of “If I work hard for 20 minutes straight, I’ll allow myself 5-10 minutes of downtime.” Eliminating potential sources of distraction, such as by leaving your phone in a separate room to avoid temptation, can also be helpful.
  • Drink more water: Many of us don’t put in the effort or forget to meet the recommended amount of daily water intake. To ensure you’re getting the amount of water you should be, either the standard 8 cups-a-day or a calculated value based on your height and weight, setting a few alarms or downloading an app such as Plant Nanny or Aqualert can help you stay on track. In addition, investing in a visually appealing reusable water bottle may help encourage you to drink more
  • Read more: Engaging in routine reading is credited with improving memory, strengthening vocabulary, relieving stress, and enhancing moods. If you find generally find picking up a book as strenuous and boring work, try a different approach! Explore other genres, or experiment with other formats. Maybe sitting down and reading a paperback novel isn’t your thing, try an audiobook or an ebook. Maybe you aren’t a fan of the classic literature you’re exposed to in school, try a biography about your favorite athlete or a book delving into the history of neuroscience.
  • To volunteer more time: Become more involved in your community and join organizations that can open up volunteer opportunities. Examples can include but are not limited to, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, animal shelter, hospital, nursing home, etc.
  • To try new things more often: Designate 2019 as a year of new experiences across the board, whether it be trying new recipes, new restaurants or local businesses, or new experiences such as camping or ice skating.
  • Find your style: Use the new year as an excuse to transform the way you want to express yourself. Explore new varieties of dress. Try those shoes you’ve been eyeing for weeks but were unsure if you could pull off. Don’t be afraid to stand out, and don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Be more open: Many of us have become so accustomed to holding on to our opinions and neglect to take a step back to reflect as much as we should. Overall, try to practice acceptance on a larger scale. Pass less judgment about new situations you come across. Take into consideration multiple perspectives and don’t jump to conclusions.
  • Spend more time outdoors: Often, a seemingly endless amount of time is wasted away inside on beautiful days, make an effort to take more walks with family members, organize meet-ups with friends at local parks, or simply sit outside and take in nature more often.
  • Explore entertainment: Whether you’re a music fan or film lover, use this time to branch out and explore the work from different artists, genres, or directors that you normally wouldn’t. If you usually enjoy Broadway musicals and show tunes, dip your toes into some R&B or rap music this year. If you’re accustomed to watching action or sci-fi movies, try watching a biopic or drama next time you’re at the movie theater. Whether you want to listen to five new artists every month or watch five new movie genres throughout the year, establish a goal of how much you want to try and follow through. Programs such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, or Apple Music can help you get started with a simple search.

While these are just some ideas, there are countless little changes that can be made according to you, to improve yourself and your life this year. While change is good, it’s important to remember that there’s no pressure to change anything if you are happy. However, if you do want to change something, it’s necessary to understand that progress is gradual and will not come instantaneously. Do not stress or beat yourself up over it! Take baby steps and with enough time you will see results if you consistently work to improve. With all this in mind, take a step back and examine your goals and ambitions for this year. If you strive to make them happen, 2019 will be your year. Here’s to new beginnings!

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