You know the feeling: The holidays are over, your friends and family are finally out of your hair, and you’re starting a new year full of possibilities and adventures. After the gifts have been given and the year has renewed, we are left with a sense of wonder about the year that lies ahead — 2020.
For some, a new year is a source of excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. For others, the transition can be stressful due to unfulfilled wishes from the year prior or an overwhelming sense of responsibility to make the current year even better. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, use these five simple steps to make the most of this (and every) year.
1. Write Down Your Goals
The main reason many people look to a new year as a time to make changes is a new year represents a new beginning, a clean slate to actualize goals and build on future plans. The practice of maintaining New Year’s resolutions is one many falter in, partially due to the fact that people are only writing their goals down once per year.
Many of the most successful people in the world made their dreams a reality by making a conscious effort to write down their short-term and long-term goals on a daily or weekly basis. This practice can help you keep track of the many goals you have and reifies your commitment to working toward them. By keeping a tangible list of the things you want to accomplish, you hold yourself accountable.
2. Build a Routine
As we make the transition into adulthood and prepare to graduate from college, we must not overlook the importance of a routine. Doing routines on a daily basis can help us organize our days in a way that keeps us on track of our growing responsibilities as we prepare for the next stages of our lives. A routine can be as simple as a bedtime habit like eliminating screen time in favor of a book to help foster a sound sleep or waking up early and making breakfast to nourish your body for the day.
Routines set the foundation for and help us maximize the efficiency of our days. The more structure and familiarity we have with the minute aspects of our days can help make pressing issues seem less daunting. If we can eliminate many of the small decisions we have to make throughout the day with the support of a good routine, we can take on more challenges with less difficulty.
3. Be Spontaneous
Though it may seem contradictory to the previous point, spontaneity and routine are not necessarily opposing ideas. Routines are essential for meeting your goals head on, but it is still important to make time to explore new interests and ideas. Once you have a solid routine, you have more room to be spontaneous due to the renewed sense of purpose and utility you have created for yourself.
This year, think about how you can go out of your way to do something new. With Philadelphia being home to so many people, places, foods and activities, every day can be an adventure if you let it. Resources like Campus Philly, an organization tailored to helping college students make their way through the city and build their networks, are at your disposal in your quest for spontaneity.
4. Eat Healthy and Exercise
One of the most prominent New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, and it’s a difficult feat for a lot of people. Some people don’t want to lose weight but still struggle to maintain a healthy diet and stay active. Regardless of individual circumstances or preferences, operating at peak performance means being mindful of how we fuel our bodies and staying active.
Eating leafy greens and fruits provides our brains and bodies with necessary nutrients to optimize our daily functions. Being mindful of caloric intake is also important if you have goals in mind for losing or gaining weight. Lifesum, an app that tracks daily activity in conjunction with exercise, can make weight loss or gain as easy as using a few taps of your fingers.
Going to the gym can be daunting if you haven’t went in a while. If you relate, check out Nike Training Club, an app that has workouts designed with and without equipment. Start with bodyweight-only exercises and work your way up until you’re comfortable lifting weights. Exercise has been proven to increase energy levels, lower stress levels and build self-esteem. The amount of results you see is equal to the amount of work you put in, but the most important thing is to do it for you — not the pressures or expectations of others.
5. Live in the Moment
Thanks to constant pressure from school, work and other responsibilities, it can be hard to remember things we are thankful for and to enjoy the beauty of the journeys we’re on. The people we meet and the relationships we cultivate are what make us human and help us navigate through challenges we face. Live in the moment, and take time to appreciate the time you spend with your loved ones.
The next time you hang out with a friend, make a conscious decision to leave your phone somewhere out of reach. Being present enriches not only us but the people around us. Living in the moment means appreciating our environments and embracing the now instead of harping on the past or being anxious about the future.
As we start a new decade, embrace the fact that there is no perfect day or time to start making the changes you want to see in your life. The time is always now. Whether you read this in January or July, seek to practice more constructive and meaningful habits. The future is full of uncertainties and challenges, but the way you approach them is what will make all the difference.
Written by: Jonathan McCoy