Everyone should make resolutions and write them down.  Some contend you should instead approach each day with new goals, but that misses the point.  The change from one calendar year to the next is more about reflecting on where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.  It is the perfect moment for a comprehensive evaluation of your current position in life.  This evaluation should encompass your well-being, education, career, relationships, and cultural awareness.  No matter your age, socioeconomic status, race, gender, or any other personal attribute, the new year is an optimal time to devise a plan to better yourself as a person, both individually and as a member of society.  In order to stick with your plan, you should write down your resolutions and assess your progress on a monthly or weekly basis.

Below are a few ideas for bettering yourself in the new year.  Please share your thoughts!  Best of luck and here’s to making 2018 your best year yet.

Well-Being:

  • Drink warm lemon water every morning.  This practice catalyzes your digestion process, hydrates you, and cleanses your body.  It is far healthier than immediately drinking acidic coffee first thing in the morning.  For more on the benefits of this morning routine, click here (as a preview, it improves everything from your skin health to your overall immune system and mood).
  • Drink more green tea.  Similar to warm lemon water, green tea has many properties with health benefits.  Catechins in the tea, for example, are antioxidants that have been said to help prevent cell damage.  For more information, read here (again, as a preview, the potential benefits are almost endless: cancer and stroke prevention, increased heart health, lower cholesterol, etc.).
  • Cut out fried and processed foods.  This is evident to most people by now.  A good rule of thumb is to stick to the sides of almost any grocery store and generally avoid the middle aisles.  If it is unclear where the food came from, whether plant or animal, search for a more natural substitute.  Anything cooked in a deep fryer should be avoided.  Foods prepared this manner are high in calories and trans-fats, and increase your risk of disease (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.).  For tips on cooking with natural foods and revamping your diet in the new year, visit 101 Cookbooks.
  • Aim to eat only two bigger meals per day.  Aside from the convenience factor of only preparing two larger meals for yourself each day, there may be health and weight loss benefits if you build a calorie deficit.  Of course, anyone with an opinion on diet and food has thoughts of their own, so it’s best to do what’s right for you.  For example, you may perform better with smaller meals spread throughout the day, or perhaps you prefer one larger meal at the end of the day with your family.  For more information on the benefits of two larger meals per day, however, read here.
  • Balance diet and exercise.  While it is always advisable to aspire to at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, we lead busy lives so it is not always possible.  At a minimum, if you are not inspired to exercise regularly, you should not gorge yourself during meals either.  Remember that diet and exercise are all about balance.  Think of calories similar to the debits and credits in your bank account, with exercise or eating less as a form of paying yourself and helping you to achieve your weight loss goals.
  • Spend more time outdoors.  This is beneficial to your overall mood and happiness.  Nature is our natural habitat and environment.  Breathe some fresh air.  Get lost.

Education:

  • Read books.  Aim to read at least one book per month, whatever it may be.  It is important to keep your mind active and escape the daily travails of work and life every once in a while.
  • Read the news.  Keeping pace with current events may help you with your job and make you a more interesting person.  You can engage in thoughtful conversations and serve as a more informed person in society (which could inspire you to volunteer or fight for a particular cause, such as net neutrality, which we at PolisPandit are passionate about!).
  • Record your thoughts.  At the end of each day, reflect on what you did, heard, learned, and enjoyed/disliked.  These recordings serve as good reminders of where you have been, where you are, and where you are headed.  And who knows – these random musings may eventually be seeds that blossom into ideas you act on in the future.
  • Learn to code.  It seems that more industries are moving into the digital world everyday.  Learn the language of the 21st century.  For free online courses, check out Codeacademy.
  • Learn a new language.  While you’re learning to code, if you really want to challenge yourself, pick up a new language.  Not only will it help you understand a new culture, but it may also improve your use of english or your native language!  Rosetta Stone has great programs to assist you.

Career:

  • Find fulfillment at work.  If you do not feel fulfilled at work or in whatever subject you’re studying in school, make it your mission this year to find passion and satisfaction.  Do not be afraid to seek a career or industry change.  If you plan to start interviewing in the new year, check out our previous article on the Career Dating Game.  If you think you need to make a broader lifestyle change, watch Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech from 2005 for inspiration.
  • Aim to take on more responsibility, no matter your career level.  Set goals to advance your career and/or get promoted.  You will feel more purpose and satisfaction in life.  Take pride in any work product you create.
  • Be a mentor.  One of the best ways to learn is to teach.  Not only are you helping someone who is new and learning the ropes, you are also forcing yourself to master your craft because you need to explain and demonstrate a concept or how something works.  Age is typically irrelevant.

Relationships:

  • Create a network list.  Whether these are contact lists in your Contacts application (through Apple) or on an Excel spreadsheet, it is helpful to have a comprehensive list of people in your network, even if it’s just for sending out holiday cards at the end of the year.  The primary use, of course, is to help your career, but it can be for personal use as well.
  • Aim to contact every person on your contact list at least once a quarter.  Even if it’s a simple check-in to see how they’re doing, maintain connections with people you’ve met, worked with, or socialized with over the years.  You never know where a relationship may lead, and it looks tacky if you only contact someone when you need a job referral.
  • Spend more time with loved ones.  Make sure you set aside time for the people you love.  At the end of the day, work is temporary and one day your career will be over, but your loved ones will always be there for you.  Make a concerted effort in the new year to cultivate and maintain these relationships.

Cultural Awareness:

  • Study the one issue that scares you the most.  Whether this is understanding Republican or Democratic voters better, the threats of climate change, growing income inequality, etc., by confronting your fears and educating yourself, you may be able to help effect change in your own way.
  • Go to more museums.  There are common sayings among history teachers and scholars – “history repeats itself” and “humanity never learns the lessons of history.”  Go to a museum and learn those lessons and attempt to understand how the past shaped the present, and how it might influence the future.  And this includes all facets of history from science, literature, art, etc.
  • Take a painting or ceramics class.  Express yourself and learn a new medium and skill.
  • Take a cooking class.  Learning how to cook better on your own will help you enhance your well-being by eating better (because you will know exactly what you put into your body!).  You also might find it fun.
  • Visit a vineyard and learn about wine.  Not only are vineyards beautiful, but learning about the art and science behind the winemaking process is fascinating.  The wine also tends to be delicious, and once paired with food, makes almost any meal exponentially better.

Have a great start to your 2018!  Cheers.

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