It’s that time of year again. You know-the week between Christmas and New Year’s we’re supposed to spend contemplating our worst bits and developing a plan to attack them? If you believe your Facebook news feed, this plan is inevitably a diet/exercise/weight loss challenge. People, 2016 was rotten enough, let’s not set 2017 on a path to follow it. We know that intentional weight loss is never a long-term solution, and can cause great harm. Instead of temporary weight loss and continuing self-hate, here are 8 things you might want to gain in the new year:
A New Skill: Always wanted to learn piano or saxophone? How about a foreign language? Physics? Gourmet or ethnic cooking? Bowling? A new year is a new beginning, and you can seize the opportunity. My new skill for 2016 was woodworking, and I highly recommend it despite the blisters, scrapes, and bruises I’m now sporting.
New Friends: Making friends is not easy, at least not for everyone. If you, like me, have ever found yourself googling ‘how to make a friend’, make this your year. A tip I recently received (not from Google because that stuff wasn’t very helpful): People like you. Really. They aren’t hanging out around you out of pity. Oh, and ask them questions.
Old Friends: Okay, so you can’t really ‘make’ old friends, but you can make them a priority. That person you want to see more of but never do? Make it happen. During my Year of Intention, I set a weekly walking date with one friend; years later we’re still at it! The conversations range from trivial to deep, and I hate it when we miss a week.
Cha-Ching: Been meaning to open a savings account? Set up that Etsy shop? Update your 401k contributions? You’ve got financial desires; pick a goal, make a plan, and own that crap. This year I set up a savings account at a bank wholly unconnected to my checking account, and I declined the debit card. If I want to take money out, I have to show up when there are humans there, go inside, and fill out paperwork. I’ve yet to make a withdrawal. Sure, that can make deposits equally as difficult, but it’s a good place to stash miscellaneous checks that I’d have to run to one bank or another anyway.
A Degree: I’m sure I didn’t know, when I gave up on college over a decade ago, that I only had two classes left. I’m sure, because if I’d known, I’d have finished, right? *Sigh* When I emailed the counselors a couple years ago to find out, it was a shock! I finished just over a year ago, and it was a lovely gift to myself. Do you have a partially finished program of study sitting somewhere? Check out your options. Need to get your GED, or been longing for that certificate? At least get the scoop on programs, costs, and financial aid options. Gotta start somewhere.
Insight: We’re so busy these days it’s easy to shuffle from the morning alarm until it’s past time to collapse into bed without a single pause. When do we ponder the meaning of life? Maybe this is the year you should start journaling, or working through the Bible, or a book/workbook on feelings, or seeing a counselor. Or join a support group or a book club. Time to stop and ponder things, that’s what we’re after.
Victory: I love conquering things. Okay, I love having conquered things. The process isn’t always so fun. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or finishing a particularly tough ride or race, or mastering a game or skill, whatever it is you want to win at, keep chipping away at it. I finally conquered the local mountain hike this year, and have been back up several times. It always feels victorious (especially that 6 degree day in 10 inches of snow!).
A New You: If you must, absolutely must, focus on your body, please focus on the positive. Are you getting enough sleep, enough food, enough vitamins? I know it can be hard to find good medical care–oh boy, do I know–but are you taking care of your medical needs? When’s the last time you took a candlelit bath? Had a pedicure? If you’ve got fitness goals, are they the positive kind, like ‘work up to lifting X lbs’ or ‘2 minute planks’ or ‘bike X miles’? How about how you talk to your body? Are you admiring it and thanking it for what it does for you each day, or is the conversation an unhappy one? This can be changed, and you and your body will be better for it.
Here’s to a Happier New Year!