Most of us have a basic desire to become "better" with the New Year. It's really the basis of so many people around the world making New Year's resolutions, and with the change of the year from 2016 to 2017, the same thing will happen as has happened for centuries. We all hope to shed some of the tough times and bad experiences of the past year, and look forward to making changes in the new one. You probably have a list of things you'd like to improve on - as do I!
Creating a better you in the new year is entirely possible if you can really commit to making changes. It can be difficult, but if you stick with it, you may find your entire life has changed for the better!
What follows are 30 ways to create a better you as you head out into the new year. Keep in mind, while not all of these may be relevant to you, they are some great suggestions to get you going in the right direction.
Have some other ways for bettering yourself you'd like to recommend? Leave a comment at the end!
30 ways to Create a Better You in 2017
- Adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is something I talk about a lot, and with good reason - I have seen the positive benefits of a
- Lose weight. Many of us struggle with carrying around too much extra baggage. One of the most popular New Year's resolutions is the desire to shed some of those extra pounds. I set this as a goal of mine a few years ago, and have lost 65 pounds since as a result of making a significant diet change and exercising more. It is amazing how simple this is to do in retrospect, but starting out on this path is not always an easy one, I can admit. Be sure to read some of our great content on losing weight. If you need some more encouragement, be sure to get in touch as I'd be happy to discuss more about my own journey in losing weight myself.
- Learn to enjoy life more fully. This is one of the simplest resolutions people make year in and year out - but we should not ignore it just because of it's simplicity. Learning how to enjoy your life more requires some serious self-evaluation. You need to determine what things make you unhappy, or hold you back from enjoying yourself. For many, I expect being tied to their phone screens or computers can be a source of this problem, so maybe one simple resolution is to limit screen time as much as possible. I'm sure you can think of other things bothering you, too!
- Spend less money, and save more money. Most people are hit with financial hardship as some point in their lives. I read a statistic once that state that around 40% of the US population spends too much money - more money than they have to spend. This would suggest too many people are racking up debt on credit cards, spending frivolously on luxury goods and entertainment, and taking on mortgages they can't really afford. No doubt, some people are forced into debt by low paying jobs and real financial demands that come with having a family, rent, and other bills. For virtually everyone - learning how to put together a budget to better save and spend can go a long way into making your life better in 2017.
One simple thing you can do is start making grocery lists and specific budget restraints - this will help you to mentally prepare for going to the grocery store, and stay away from buying unneeded goods that will end up going bad in your fridge anyways!
- Spend more time with family and friends. I find that many of us work ourselves to an early grave without getting the time to spend with loved ones. It pains me when I hear about people who work jobs that do not provide much time off and that are not really flexible - like nurses tend to have. Learning how to find more time can be difficult, and can sometimes require you to push yourself even when you would rather stay home in bed - but the results can be good as you grow these relationships.
- Learn the difference between quantity and quality. When it comes to food, our hobbies, our relationships, our money -- it is critical to take a step back and reflect on the difference between large quantities of time vs. good quality time. The food we eat can be good for us - and with the right diet can be of great quality - but quantity can sometimes get in the way of our goals (eating too much). If time is something you lack to spend doing things you enjoy or being around people you love, learn to make the time you do have count. And money, while great to have, is not everything in the world. You can make even a small amount of money go farther with good budgeting practices, so you get more quality out of your cash.
- Join a gym (or buy home gym equipment). One of the best things I have done in conjunction with transitioning to a plant-based diet has been joining the gym. I have generally enjoyed active hobbies like hiking and canoeing, but I was able to help aid my weight loss and getting into shape by lifting weights and doing cardio at my local Planet Fitness.
Of course, if you don't like gyms (as many don't because of everyone around), it is entirely possible to get in shape at home. You can find some great workout programs and buy the necessary equipment easily.
- Stop procrastinating. This may be the easiest piece of advice on this list, but in reality it is one of the hardest ones to overcome. Procrastination stems from a number of things - notwithstanding a little bit of apathy and laziness, both of which tend to get in our way with achieving most goals. While a little procrastination here and there won't kill you, if your a chronic procrastinator, 2017 sounds like a good time to put some of it to rest.
- Meet new people and expose yourself to new ideas. It's incredible to think of how connected the world is, how easy it can be to meet new people, and how readily available large quantities of information on everything from quantum mechanics to tying your shoes can be. The easiest way to grow yourself is to plant some seeds needed for growth - a little socializing and exposure to ideas outside of what you are comfortable with can go a long way.
- Replace anger with empathy and kindness. One thing that can really due damage for people is letting anger, frustration, and other negative emotions overtake them. While something that probably won't be fixed in a year, learning how to relax, take a deep breath, empathize, and be kind come as significant virtues that can better yourself and the world we live in.
- Get more sleep. Getting a good nights rest is critical to your health. If your not sleeping enough, figure out a way to get more of it!
- Give up smoking cigarettes. Smoking kills indirectly by causing other diseases such as cancer to creep up over time. It's an incredible thing that people actively like to engage in this habit - and a hard thing when you get stuck in the throws of addiction. In Pennsylvania, state tax just went up, making it an even more expensive addiction, too. Give it up for your wallet and your health, you'll be glad you did!
- Give up coffee and caffeine, too. Here is a more difficult recommendation to make, but you may see some useful health benefits here, too! I gave up coffee myself, in exchange for some excellent coffee substitutes, and have reduced some costs that come with a daily Starbucks run and the health consequences of caffeine in our diets.
- Watch less television, and spend more time with a good book. While I admit TV can be fun and very interesting at times (like the recent Planet Earth II nature documentary series), it also has the potential to rot our brains. It's all good in moderation, but you need to know when to step away and do other things of importance. One simple thing to try doing is replacing the television with a good book. Even if your not an avid reader, it engages another area of your brain and can help keep you mentally stimulated.
- Pay off debts (if you can). With so many people in deep debt, it can be difficult to expect change to come from inside these walls. But, if your in a position to start paying off debts in large quantities, I highly suggest you forgo some needless spending and check them off. It can be freeing to escape some of the high interest rate loans especially, that so many people are stuck with these days. If your a recent college graduate, you probably are learning this first hand yourself.
- Learn a new language. I admit, I can't speak a language other than English, but it doesn't mean you can't make this a goal yourself for the new year. I have made some attempts at a few languages in the past, and have learned a few small phrases like "Bonjour, je m'appelle Farmer Fred" that I can take with me wherever I go. Consider enrolling in a course to learn a new language, or purchase language software like Rosetta Stone.
- Volunteer for causes you care about. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities around. Animal lovers may wish to help out a local shelter, while those who like to be hands on with children can have the opportunity to do so in other areas. If you can think of it, there is probably a volunteer opportunity out there. The great thing about giving back is that you also end up giving yourself some valuable life experience - and experience you can add to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
- Learn some useful skills and/or engage in a new hobby. While some hobbies might not be overtly useful like playing video games, others can provide you with some really useful insight into the world and skills that are beneficial and even needed around the house or on the job. A few decades ago when I started up my garden, I had found a new hobby that was engaging, entertaining, and highly beneficial to my life.
- Adopt a pet. I don't say this one lightly, but if you have the space and the time, having a pet can really enhance your well-being, and provide an opportunity for an animal to have a good life as well. With so many pets abandoned and stuck in animal shelters, adoption is the way to go. Maybe you will end up with a Bailey (my little helper) of your own one day!
- Become more organized. I don't know about you, but I certainly find organization to make every day a little easier. You do not have to be so organized you take it to an obsessive levels, but some structure at work and at home can make things much easier.
- Travel more! Traveling can really help broaden your horizons, and provides a valuable source of entertainment and life enhancements. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a real way to help sculpt yourself into someone entirely new. It's entirely possible to do traveling on a small scale and visit different locations in your local area as well - even just dining out somewhere new rather than the same old, same old, can do wonders for you.
- Learn to cook, and too enjoy cooking. Cooking is not everyone's cup of tea, but it can really add value to your life. With a whole food, plant-based diet, I have learned how to engage with my food much more than I had in the past - coming up with recipes that are nutritionally dense and tasty. You don't have to take it to a chef's level of professionalism, but moving away from solely microwaved dinners can make the food you eat...better!
- Learn how to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Many people are dependent on others to get by in life. While we all can't do everything, learning how to escape some of this dependency can make you feel much better and in more control of your life. While I wouldn't recommend taking this advice to mean skipping a call to an electrician if your power isn't working, I would suggest doing what you can to learn about your electrical problems so you may be able to make a fix yourself one day.
- Work towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability has to be the way of the future. It is something I have been striving for more and more - as has been mentioned with the maintaining of my backyard garden to provide a great harvest of food for my family, friends, and myself. This is just one example of sustainability, and I am sure you can think of other ways where you can better sustain the environment and yourself.
- Learn to better control your emotions. Many times our problems are rooted in how we respond to things in our environment. Learning how to take a step back and reflect on what the real underlying problem is can sometimes make a world of difference.
- Become more responsible. Another broad recommendation - but an important recommendation. Becoming more responsible means holding yourself accountable for your actions. This means that if you make a mistake at work, you own up to it. This doesn't have to mean being a scapegoat for others, though, as that can often lead to people taking advantage of you.
- Educate yourself on art, music, culture, and other things of interest and importance to the human condition. You can find a lot of joy out of exploring things you are into - and going down the rabbit hole. Sometimes, investigating things you may not understand or "like" can lead to new things to enjoy. I once wrote an article about The History of Greenhouses, not something I've really ever thought of much (or particularly cared about), but since then I have found their background to be quite interesting!
- Find a way to express your creative side. Getting your creative juices flowing can make your life all the better. Take up a musical instrument, learn to paint, or engage in some crafts - the limit is really your imagination.
- Start keeping a journal. I was recently at a wedding for one of the Plant-Smart Living team member's in September 2016, and during the ceremony they read memories from journal's they had kept over the course of 10 years of being together (through high school and college). This got me thinking of how valuable journaling can be - both in the short-term so you can get your thoughts out, and in the long-term so you can look back at it later and reflect on the good and bad.
- Pat yourself on the back for the good changes you've already made in your life!! This one is simple but necessary - remember the good things you have already achieved. Even a person with the worst year has a few things to be proud of. I hope you feel this way, and I'd encourage you to share some of your 2016 highlights with us in the comments below.
I would just like to say - 2017, here we come!
I hope you are encouraged and feel prepared to go into the new year. This new year provides unlimited potential for new opportunities and success. While we will no doubt face some challenges along the way, with some motivation we can all do things to better ourselves. You really can create a better you!