December 29, 2016

New Year’s Resolution or Bucket List? {A Guide to Enhancing your New Year}

I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions—but I’m not violently opposed to them either. Mostly, I just feel indifferent.

I’ve always seen the new year as just another date on the calendar, and I’ve rarely committed to making some kind of change just because the year has changed.

I am, however, the type of person who wants to live before I die, so I often think about ways to make my life better. I want to enjoy new experiences and really enhance the quality of the life I’m living.

As the new year begins, instead of making unrealistic resolutions, we can instead make a list of things that we would like to do in the new year. This can be a lofty list of things we’d like to accomplish, and if we only accomplish a few and not all, it’s not a failure at all.

By doing this instead of a typical resolution, we set ourselves up to succeed—and not to fail. We also give ourselves the opportunity to experience new things and to enhance the beautiful lives we’re living.

This is my list (in no particular order) of meaningful things to do in the new year:

1. See your town like a tourist. Do the things in the place where you live that tourists would do. See it with fresh eyes and learn to appreciate a little more the place where you live.

2. Take day trips. Explore the area around where you live. Find hole-in-the-wall spots and places off the beaten path. Pick a road and drive. Get lost and find yourself. It may sound like a whole bunch of clichés, but just taking a day trip to somewhere new can be a great adventure!

3. Learn how to do something new. Take a painting class or skydive. Learn a new recipe. Do something you’ve never done before. Learn a skill. Just learn something.

4. Listen to podcasts, Ted Talks, or other informational programs. Do something to open up your worldview and keep your mind engaged.

5. Find a way to give back. Sure, we can donate to a charity, but we can also volunteer our time to a worthy organization.

6. Practice random acts of kindness as a part of your regular life. Once a month or once a week or once a day. Just make being kind a priority.

7. Become an activist. Whatever you are passionate about, find a way to advocate for it. If we want to change our world for the better, we need to use our voices, our resources, our passion and our skills to advocate on behalf of those causes. Be the change. Do good.

8. Become a healthier you. We can do something that makes us healthier. It doesn’t have to be a weight loss goal or even a fitness regimen. We can simply walk more or add a fruit or vegetable to a meal time. We can quit smoking or stop engaging in an unhealthy behavior. We can use positive affirmations. We can find a way to be body positive by doing something to contribute to a healthier life.

9. Eliminate one form of negativity. This could be mean we stop watching news coverage that’s negative. This could be minimizing or eliminating contact with negative people. This could mean stopping a negative behavior. We can enhance our lives by taking away something that brings more stress than joy.

10. Spend time improving your mental health. Talk to a therapist. Utilize hypnotherapy. Take a laughter yoga class. Meditate. Stop complaining. Count your blessings. Do something that makes your mental outlook more healthy.

11. Practice gratitude all the time. Make gratitude a daily focus. Use good manners and say thank you.

12. Say what you need to say, with love. We spend so much of our lives not saying what should be said and often saying things we shouldn’t. What if we lived our lives speaking our truth, in love and kindness, when we need to speak it? To say, I love you. To say, I’ve forgiven you. To say, I’m sorry. We should say the things that need to be said to make our lives richer.

13. Find balance. Are we often tired and overcommitted? We can use the year to find our balance, which may mean saying no to new obligations or cutting down on old ones.

14. Stop trying to please everyone. Seriously, stop. We need to live our lives in the best ways that we can but not because we’re following someone else’s rules or living someone else’s dreams. We need to follow our bliss and stop trying to make everyone happy at the expense of ourselves.

15. Take a step toward following your dream. Whatever it is that we long for, we can find a way to start living that dream. For me, I wanted to be a writer. It took a lot of courage, but I submitted my first article and then waited. Just the act of trying was a way to start living out my dream. What do you dream of? What step can you take to start living it out?

16. Become congruent. Do the values you espouse match the life you’re living? I found that I was very stressed one week, and I started to do what I like to call flipping the bitch switch. Take a little impatience and frustration, and I would give myself permission to get bitchy. When I realized that I was espousing values of kindness and empathy, but then allowing myself to become a cranky bitch to other people, I had to adjust my attitude. I could either start espousing values of treating people in whatever way I feel like, or I needed to make my behaviors more kind. I chose kindness. When we are aware of our attitudes and behaviors and compare them to our values, we will often find inconsistencies. Spend the year adjusting to make them congruent.

17. Be brave. Stand up for yourself and for others. Speak out. Try something new. Step outside of your comfort zone, and have courage.

18. Educate yourself. Research a topic you’re interested in, or try to see the other side of an issue. Take the time to figure out how to think critically and how to determine if a news source is unbiased. Learn about the topic so that you can have an educated opinion.

19. Go on an adventure. Check something off your bucket list this year.

20. Read. Read a newspaper, or comic book, or novel. Just read. 

This list is general, because it’s meant to be personalized for each individual. We can take our interests and our passions and fit them into each category to determine 20 ways we can enhance our new year and to enrich our lives. May it be of benefit!



Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: elephant archives

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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