There are only ten weeks left in 2019, meaning that in the blink of an eye we will be reigning in a New Year and saying goodbye to the last decade at the same time.
For many, this time of year results in a time of personal reflection. What have I achieved? What do I still want to do before the clock strikes twelve on December 31st? Did I meet the goals I set for myself at the start of the year?
Personally, I am not fond of New Year Resolutions; however, I do believe that the close of the year provides a natural opportunity for reflection and an opening for new lifestyle changes or commitments.
As we enter the new roaring twenties, I think there are a few simple and yet impactful changes we can all make to ensure the next chapter is our best yet.
One: Embrace the joy of learning something new
Too often, we let the day-to-day noise of everyday life get in the way of developing our personal self and our deeper understanding of things that interest or intrigue us. Honestly, it does not matter if you are studying in a classroom or learning something new via a podcast, it is the on-going discipline of pursuing new knowledge, which really matters.
When did you last master a new skill or discover something that really surprised you? Adopt this mindset from a quote I love:
‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether it’s at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.’
On this note, I think it is incredibly important to read something. Anything. Every single day. Whether it’s a short newspaper article or a chapter of a good book, reading is our gateway to knowing more, and knowledge allows us to enact change, challenge what we know and escape into new worlds even for just an hour.
Two: Simplify and stop over committing
It is easy in the New Year, or any moment, to write a list of everything you truly want to achieve. Quite often, the problem we instead face is the complexity or sheer volume of the goals we then go and set.
Stay realistic, don’t set a goal to run a triathlon if you have neglected exercise for some time. Make your goals simple, clearly defined and achievable. Start with committing to running three times a week no matter what the distance, and work up from there.
Any time you’re about to make a big change, getting to the end result can be overwhelming. Setting small, easily achievable goals is one way to jump-start yourself and in a short period of time you can look back and see how much you have already accomplished.
Then look at how you are spending your time. We are all busy, but we are also in control of what we allow into our lives. Commit to what matters. Define your priorities. Try to enter 2020 with a view that being busy isn’t necessarily a good thing, and instead a life that makes time for what matters is instead a true sign of success.
Three: Become a morning person
I love the golden hour before the world truly wakes up and you have some time for solitude, self-prioritization and spending time on things you cherish.
Personally, I use this hour for a variety of different activities rather than a set ‘routine’. One morning I may spend the hour writing posts such as this. Others I will dedicate to exercise, studying for my masters, planning personal travel or just snuggled up reading in bed with my cats before I have to tackle the day ahead.
By carving out this hour, I ensure that every single day I start my day right. I have done something that really matters to me, something that aligns with my priorities and contributes towards my own personal goals.
The impact an hour dedicated entirely to the structure of your choosing can have is huge.
Four: Consume less and consume better
It sounds simple but it’s surprising how we are often inclined to do the opposite. Try to enter the New Year with the comfort of knowing you are content with everything you have.
In Western society, we often attribute happiness and success with material goods and status. Ironically, almost all studies on this topic show that neither contribute to our long-term happiness.
If you believe that a better model of car or bigger house is the key to your happiness, then what happens when you obtain it and you realise there is an even more luxurious or bigger version within reach in a few years? You end up in a cycle of consumerism. Of seeing goods as an achievement of your goals, and every time you obtain that success the feeling is short lived as you quickly begin to covet the next best thing.
If you see goods as a way to fulfil the things that make you happy. A car to help you travel, see loved ones and visit new places. A house to make memories with friends and family around the dinner table, and shoes as a way to take you on new adventures, you realise you already have all you need.
Our planet, your happiness and your perception will thank you when you break out of the cycle of wanting and start living with what you need.
This doesn’t end with material goods. It means taking control of what you eat, drink and what you’re putting into your body each day.
Be conscious of your consumption. Start 2020 investing in what you truly need. Time, health, family and personal growth.
Five: Be kinder
We are statistically more stressed than ever thanks to online capabilities providing less of a ‘shut down’ window than we used to see in previous decades. We can email at any hour, online shop at 3am and check in with friends with the tap of a button.
Thanks to this, and a disengagement with real, in-person interactions thanks to the rise of social media, it’s hardly surprising that we have begun to put more pressure on ourselves and at times, not provide others with the time and kindness they deserve.
Being kind is something we do out of love and care, but research shows it also makes us genuinely happy in many ways. For those feeling disengaged, stressed and burnt out, a little bit of kindness can go a long way.
Smile at others for no reason; be open to making new connections and meeting new people. Treat those you care for to a thoughtful gift or experience ‘just-because’. Adopt an animal in need of a loving home; open your doors to someone needing an ear. Pay it forward by supporting someone’s goals with your skills or advice, or even just buying a strangers coffee that day.
Just as important as being kind to others, is being kind to yourself. We are our worst critics, and sometimes we need to take a moment to appreciate all that we do and all we are striving for.
Being kind may boost your mood, but research has also shown that being in a good mood can make you more kind. This makes it a wonderful two-way relationship that just keeps giving.
What do you think of the above? Is there anything you’re going to adopt moving forward or is there something you thing is missing from this list that people can do tomorrow to make a meaningful change for the years’ to come?