The start of a new year is always a time where we do a lot of soul searching. The majority see it as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, and this often comes in the form of a New Year’s resolution. In addition to a resolution, there are a number of things that you can do over the course of the year that will drastically improve your life and many of them are very simple yet incredibly effective. So, if you are looking to lead a happier life, then try these 10 things over the course of 2016.
10. Take a Look at Your Finances
Money is the cause of most people’s stress and leads many to sleepless nights. Instead of worrying but continuing as normal, it is worth spending an afternoon going through your finances and seeing how you can improve your situation. Just by doing so, you could save a huge amount each month by looking at each area of your income and outgoings and finding ways to cut expenses. If you are unable to easily save any money and your review alerts you to the fact that you are not currently in a healthy and sustainable financial situation, it should give you the impetus to make some changes. This could include drawing up a weekly budget, changing your food shopping habits or switching your phone provider. There are many great resources and tips for saving money online, or alternatively you could seek help from a financial advisor to get your finances in order.
9. Learn to Cook a New Meal
Being able to cook a wide selection of dishes is a great life skill and a fantastic way to eat healthily (as well as impress people). Whether you fancy yourself as a master in the kitchen or if you usually find yourself burning the cereal, learning to cook a new meal (or two) is a great task for the year. Eating the same thing each week can be boring and you may find yourself no longer enjoying the meal, so the more options you have then the more enjoyable your evenings will be. Thanks to the internet (and brilliant video tutorials) and the extraordinary amount of cooking shows on TV, it is now easier than ever to cook a new meal. Alternatively, you could ask your relatives for a family recipe or scour recipe books for something delicious. Once you have it mastered, invite your friends ’round and cook for them.
8. Update Your Wardrobe
This may be one that you want to do over the course of the year instead of in one go, but updating your wardrobe can be very satisfying and is a great way to boost your confidence and improve your appearace. Importantly, updating your wardrobe is not just about buying new clothes; it is also about chucking the old stuff out. You may be reluctant to dispose of tattered jeans and faded t-shirts, but you will be doing yourself and everyone else a favor by being ruthless when going through your wardrobe. Investing in the basics can be refreshing, but you will also want to buy some stylish new items and perhaps go outside your comfort zone slightly. For those who hate clothes shopping or do not know where to begin, there are countless fantastic resources, look-books and guides online (although be sure to shop in-store to get a good fit).
7. Go “Off-Grid” For a Day
Technology is terrific and makes our day-to-day life much, much easier. However, it certainly has its drawbacks and we are all guilty of spending too long staring at our screens both at work and home. One day out of the year (probably best not on a work day), go entirely “off-grid” and enjoy the day to yourself. This means switching off your phone and staying away from social media, and if you want the full experience then you may want to get out into nature and go for a walk or on an adventure. Alternatively, spend the day enjoying your own company by ordering takeout, binge watching Netflix, taking a long bath, dancing in your underwear, or anything you want as long as you are not glued to your phone or endlessly scrolling down Facebook. Not only is this refreshing, but also an eye-opening experience.
6. Spring Cleaning
It may not be the most fun or glamorous, but spring cleaning can have an enormous impact on your life. Not only will it help your home to feel much cleaner, brighter and more attractive, but it will also have a huge impact on your mental health. It may be difficult to get into, but once you begin and put some appropriate music on you will be in the zone and it will be done before you know it. In addition to cleaning each room, tidying up your wardrobe and cupboards, spring cleaning should also include your e-life. This means deleting everything you don’t need off of your devices and all that unnecessary clutter, organizing everything into files and backing up any important data. It’s out with the old, in with the new, and you will feel like an enormous weight has been lifted once you are complete.
5. Do a Random Act of Kindness For a Loved One
So often we focus on ourselves that we forget to try and improve the lives of our loved ones. One day out of the year, commit to a random act of kindness for a loved one. Whether this is your mom, dad, a grandparent, sibling, friend or your partner, show how much you care by surprising them with a selfless act. A few great examples include buying them an unexpected gift, taking them out for lunch, arrange a weekend away for both of you, or simply indulge them and give them your undivided attention for a few hours even if it is just hanging out at home. Not only is it a great way to improve the mood of somebody you love and help to strengthen your relationship, but it can also feel wonderful to do something for somebody else and it is sure to be much appreciated.
4. Make a New Friend
Not just a new Facebook friend, but actually a person that you bond with and share a connection with. Whether you have a large circle already or just a few close friends, it is always great to make a new friend and you can never have enough. Making a new friend may lead you to think about things differently, try new activities, meet even more new people and boost your confidence. We all know that making new friends is much harder than when we were younger, but it is certainly still possible regardless of your age or situation. However, much like dating, it may require you putting yourself out there. Some of the other entries on this list will put you in scenarios where you will meet new people, but other ways to do so are through your existing friends, online, at gigs, through exercise/sports, and many other avenues.
3. Reach Out to an Old Friend
As fantastic as making a new friend is, it can be even more fulfilling to reconnect with an old friend. Although it is now easier than ever to see what old friends are up to thanks to social media, it is not the same as having a real friendship. It is inevitable that some friends slip off the radar over the years, but that does not mean that they cannot come back into your life. It may feel awkward to reach out to them, but it could well prove to be the most satisfying thing you do all year. It may just be a case of catching up and reminiscing, but equally as you are both in new periods of your life, you may find that you forge a new connection and become greater friends than before. Instead of wondering how these old friends are, reach out and reconnect.
2. Go Somewhere New
The greatest way to expand your horizons is to go somewhere new. This doesn’t have to be a three month expedition through South-East Asia (although it certainly could be), but just by visiting somewhere new it will change your outlook and it is sure to be an adventure to look back on. Whether this is visiting a neighboring city one day, going for a weekend away or going on vacation somewhere different, it will certainly prove to be one of the highlights of the year. Too often we get trapped into a routine and visit the same old places, and this can become tedious and predictable which is not how you will want to remember the year. Who knows, you may find an incredible new place, discover a brilliant restaurant, meet some new people, see some amazing architecture, or at the very least, you will have a story to tell.
1. Try a New Activity or Hobby
One of the greatest ways to self-improve is to try a new hobby or activity. A few popular examples include learning a musical instrument, playing a new sport, cooking, taking an art class or learning a new language, but the possibilities are endless. In addition to having a new skill or ability, it will also develop important life skills such as commitment, effort and patience. On top of this, with many new hobbies or activities, it will encourage you to break up your routine and meet some new people (and perhaps make that new friend) and this can be immensely rewarding. It can be frustrating to live out the same old routine and not feel like you are doing anything new or challenging yourself, but trying a new activity or hobby will shake up your routine and you could discover a talent that you never knew you had.