Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #18
As 2014 begins to wind down, the time to turn our attention to the upcoming new year has arrived. The surprise of what lay beyond the threshold is to me, always most intoxicating. And while not everyone enjoys or prefers to set resolutions, I prefer to look at the start of each new year as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow, improve and assess how to do it better.
Often creating a list of resolutions to pursue can be overwhelming, and we can get in our own way by placing too many worthwhile goals on our plate. Today, I’d like to challenge you to stick to three resolutions that speak to you based on how the past year went. And to help you create that list, I’m going to share 15 ideas that if pursued will certainly help curate a promising 2015. Let’s get started.
1. Assess 2014
One of the best ways to determine how to move forward, is to assess how the past year has gone. Whether you choose to take out your journals and read through all that has occurred to remind you of your progress that at the time may have seemed insignificant, or you look at last year’s resolutions and assess how you’ve progressed, take some time to make a list of all that happened. I think you will be amazed at how far you have come. Even if a few ideas weren’t successful, you no doubt learned and gained invaluable experience. Also, you would have also had the opportunity to see what needs to be changed in order to be successful in the coming year.
2. Focus on Health for Health’s Sake
Rather than vowing to lose 10 pounds, go deeper. Vow instead to improve your heart health, your flexibility, your stamina, your bone density. Amazingly, by pursuing more substantive goals, the general superficial goals will be achieved as well most of the time, and isn’t that a grand extra benefit? Whether you wish to improve your physical or mental health, choose one improvement that you are confident will improve the quality of your life. After all, good health is the true wealth.
3. Learn Something New
Perhaps you wish to broaden your academic knowledge or a topic, or maybe you want to learn a new athletic skill or talent. Whatever has grabbed your curiosity but you don’t yet know how to do, pursue it. Since nobody will ever know everything, there will always be something you can learn. And often the pursuit brings with it unexpected, memorable moments to savor.
4. Let Go
As a reader on last week’s post regarding 2014 resolutions pointed out, one of the lessons she learned as she held on too tightly to expectations in the current year was recognizing the power of letting go as she moved into the new year. While we can have clear intentions of what we wish the new year to be, resolving to let go and allow events and people to come into our lives as they will can offer amazing magical moments. Click here to listen/read an earlier podcast on the 6 Life Ideas to Let Go and discover why it is indeed beneficial.
5. Strengthen Relationships
In a recent interview, financial guru Suze Orman shared how she prioritizes her life: 1) relationships 2) finances 3) things. In other words, while we may want to put our dreams of success in work at the top of our list, if our relationships aren’t in order, the quality of our lives will suffer. More importantly, I found it interesting to discover that even she, a financial expert, places finances second to establishing connections with others.
Whether your relationships are strong, perhaps discover what worked well and continue to foster their growth. Or perhaps, communication needs to improve, more time needs to be devoted or choices on the types of people you welcome into your life need to be improved. Whatever area you want to improve regarding relationships, know with certainty that it will improve the overall quality of your life.
6. Change Your Relationships with Technology
Allow technology to be a tool rather than a crutch. While having smart phones at our fingertips to text, check our social media pages any time of the day or observe what our friends and family are doing to make sure we don’t miss a minute may seem like a very valuable improvement on our contemporary lives, if we allow it to stop there, we are hindering the potential connection that it could create. In other words, if we only communicate by text and refrain from face-to-face contact, why are we texting? If we only scroll through the feed on our Facebook page to gawk at our friends or compare our lives to theirs, we are wasting time and not truly experiencing life.
Allow the technology, that is absolutely amazing in its capabilities to be the bridge that invites us to spend more time with those we love, communicate when we can’t in person and open doors to grander possibilities, not be the only way of communicating.
7. Eliminate One Bad Habit
Last year, one of my three resolutions was to break a bad habit, and I shared my progress on the blog upon its completion. Upon assessing how 2014 unfolded, you no doubt are able to determine which behaviors were helping and which were getting in the way. Perhaps there is one bad habit you immediately noticed would make a significant difference to the quality of your life if you eradicated it. Do it. I know you can do it.
8. Improve Finances
No matter where you stand in your financial situation, resolve to improve one thing that will leave you on a sounder footing come this time next year. Perhaps it will be increasing your monthly deposit to your retirement account, or maybe it will be to eliminate unnecessary expenditures, thereby setting up a new budget (click here to see a simple excel spreadsheet you can use). Whatever you do, knowing you know where you are financially can do wonders for a sound night sleep.
9. Add One Routine or Habit to Reduce Stress
Again, your assessment of the past year can be very helpful in determining what your new year’s resolutions should be. Recognizing what your stressors are is the first step in determining if you can and how you can get rid of them. Perhaps you need to eliminate a responsibility or two, or maybe you want to institute a daily evening habit of meditation. One book I have on my wish list to read by this year’s end on my vacation is Dan Harris’ best-selling book 10% Happier which explains his introduction to meditation (5 minutes daily) and currently full immersion into the daily practice with 30-40 minutes daily.
While the habit your choose may not be meditation, discover something that brings back tranquility, restores your mind and allows you to closer to your best self each moment of the day.
10. Focus on Kindness
Choosing kindness is easy when everything is going well, but in those situations when we are irritated and perhaps it is even warranted to be gruff, choose kindness. You will be glad you erred on this side. After all, being thoughtful is often something others don’t expect, but can immensely change their outlook with a simple, sincere gesture. Never will there be enough, so you can never overdo.
11. Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
The quality of sleep we receive each night has a tremendous effect on so many aspects of our lives. From our health, to our performance to our mind’s functioning, sleeping well is the best medicine we can take. Whether you choose to purchase luxurious linens, light a lavender candle each night, fall asleep on down pillows covered in silk or write in your gratitude journal. Whatever ensures sweet dreams, make it a routine and abide by it religiously.
Whether you choose to travel somewhere new or explore something new at a familiar destination, try to get out of town at least once this year. Perhaps you’ll discover something you want to learn that piques your interest, or perhaps you will incorporate new ways of living into your everyday routine. Wherever you go and whatever you do, simply changing up your routine and what you open yourself up to, will reap wonderful benefits.
13. Be the Sunshine in your Own Life
Choosing to allow the voice in our heads to be a cheerleader rather than an incessant critic that never gives us a break, is one of the best ways to respect yourself. After all, what we hear on a regular basis gradually changes who we are. Why not be sunshine for our own mind and self rather than an ominous rain cloud. Just as we enjoy those who bring enjoyment, optimism and comfort into our daily routine, we too can be that for ourselves and for others.
14. Purge & Organize
The new year is a superb time to rid your life and/or home of the unnecessary: things, healthy relationships, etc. In a recent This & That post, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was included and readers who had purchased this international best-seller, raved about its content. I don’t know about you, but nothing feels so comforting as coming home to a sanctuary that is tidy and clutter-free.
15. Read More
Whether you are already an avid reader or are recognizing that you need to find more time to shut out the world and get lost in a good book, resolve to read new and interesting content. Not only will it be enjoyable, but you will foster new ideas, have intriguing conversation topics to dive into with anyone you meet and more importantly, you will no doubt learn something new.
*Bonus: Do Something to Help the World/Planet/Community
While resolutions initially must begin with ourselves, they don’t always have to be exclusive to the benefit we will gain. Why not choose to add a habit to your repertoire that helps the planet? It could be something as simple as using reusable grocery bags or trying to model behaviors that leave a smaller footprint on our earth. Whatever you choose, know that today’s society and tomorrow’s thanks you.
As you can see, there are many ways, simple to grand, that we all can incorporate into our lives to create a life of quality and more fulfillment. More than anything, I love the challenge and feel thankful that we each get one more year to get it right or at least get closer to going it better this time around.
~Note: This will be the final podcast for 2014, and new episodes will begin bright and early on Monday January 5th. Stop by the blog on Thursday January 1st for the first new post of the year, as the week of vacation here on TSLL begins Thursday December 25th and runs through the 31st.
~POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
2014 TSLL Holiday Playlist
1. Cool Yule – Bette Midler
2. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Idina Menzel with Michael Buble
3. Little Saint Nick – She & Him
4. Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande
5. Winter Wonderland – Lady Gaga with Tony Bennett
6. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (2014) Bad Aid 30 – various artists: Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Coldplay, Sam Smith (Proceeds benefit the Band Aid Charitable Trust, to fight the Ebola crisis)
7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Sam Smith
8. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – Bruce Springsteen
9. One More Sleep – Leona Lewis
10. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
11. Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson
~TSLL 2013 Festive Holiday Playlist