A lot of people moan at the prospect, but hey, some of us just like making resolutions, okay?
We make them, and yeah, most of us will ditch them before we start planning/dreading Valentine's Day. However, the will to make a lifestyle change is a good thing. Welcome it. Just concentrate on the first step, and take it from there. Setting small, achievable goals is the key to succeeding!
Here are some of my suggestions for you to think about. A lot of them are based on things I've learned about myself and from other people during the past year. Maybe they're issues that resonate with you. Maybe not. Maybe there's nothing you'd like to change in 2015 - bravo! But for those looking for inspiration, take a look at these...
When I used to volunteer at the local hospital at university, I came across a lot of older people who were pretty much at the end of their lives. I always used to get their wisdom forced down my throat, whether I wanted it or not. I was grateful to hear it of course, but all I could give them in return was a Mullerice. Anyways! They always used to tell me to keep my friends close. A lot of them had lost touch with their friends, and didn't know if they were still alive. A lot of them had lost their spouse and siblings. At times like that, people need their friends.
Friends will always come and go, but when you have good ones, don't let that bond break. We get so caught up in our own lives, that friendships slowly slip away. You move home, you marry, you mix into other social circles, but a good friendship stands through all of that. You can be on the other side of the world from a good friend, for years even, but the minute you sit down in the same room you pick up like you were never apart. True friendships like those are rare. So send a message every now and again, at least. Meet them; see them if you can. A Skype or a text message just does not compare to the genuine warmth and closeness of a real interaction with somebody you hold dear.
Make 2015 a year you reconnect golden friendships. It might have been months, or years, but there's no harm in a quick checking-in message to see if they're ok. Don't worry, you won't look weird. Everybody likes to know someone else is thinking about them.
Not everybody likes travelling. You'll have your reasons. As long as you've tried stepping out of your comfort zone, you're entitled to hate the experience as much as you like. (If you are one of these people, you should probs move to #3!)
I've been asked about travel a lot over the past 18 months. I share a lot of my travel experiences on my blog, but also on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. I like doing it because I enjoy showing people what amazing and interesting things there are out there. It exposes people to totally different, exotic worlds that are more interesting than the one they live in every day - the UK can be pretty dull if you weren't aware! It can inspire them and get them thinking: 'I wanna see that!'
'...so how can I do it?'
(Now this is a pretty deep, complicated topic! I'm currently writing a blog post about this to share with you sometime soon. I'll link it right here when it's done!)
The point is, if you want do it, you gotta do it now.
Travel is one of those things we always put on an imaginary to-do list, assuming that we'll have the time get around to doing it someday. That kind of thinking is fatal to your motivation and ruins your potential: the assumption that we have all the time in the world.
Life gets more complicated the older you get. As time goes by, you'll slowly be tied down even tighter by the things you think are restricting you back at this time. You'll be drawn further into careers, relationships, mortgages, etc. I mean, that's not a bad thing at all. That's just how life naturally pans out for a lot of people. Where a lot of us go wrong, is not realising and embracing how much freedom we have in our youth, until it's gone.
So make 2015 the year that you do it. You must have a handful of places in your head that you've probably been dreaming of for a very long time. It could be your desktop wallpaper - it must be for a reason!
Plan it. Save it. Do it.
You really can make it work!
Pretending to be someone or something other than what you are doesn't mean you're a bad person. It's not a terrible thing. We all like to think we're awesome at something, or that we are successful or that we are as confident as somebody else. In moments of difficulty and challenge, we all jump behind a mask or an idea to make it seem better. It's a natural feature of our human capacity.
However, in today's world, hiding from our reality can stop us from truly embracing life and making the most of our potential. It can distract us from confronting issues in our lives that are stopping us from moving forward. Sometimes we're actually aware of these issues, but we choose to decorate them and make them look nicer so they don't scare us so much.
This was the biggest thing I learnt this year. I struggled for a long time with unemployment and went through a difficult and awkward breakup. Things weren't going how I imagined they would. After growing frustrated at the world and at myself, I realised that I was fooling my mind. I convinced myself in many ways that I was doing everything right. I set my expectations too high. I had this arrogant idea that I was entitled to better, when in reality, there are other people who have to contend with much worse. I thought I was this really useful person who employers would snap up right away. In reality, I didn't have that many skills. I thought I was this great catch who would be dating again right away. In reality, I didn't even have the guts to ask anybody out. None of it was happening. I took a hard look at myself under a totally different lens, and I was pretty disappointed with what I saw of myself. I told myself for a long time that I was a certain kind of person, when I really wasn't! I needed to drop the act, and work on facing the things that I was afraid of. Once I stopped pretending I was something else, I realised I wasn't as confident and sure of myself as I thought I was. It also let me open my eyes to the things that I'm naturally good at and enjoy. It has let me connect better with other people and make honest, true friendships. It has enabled me to have fun and let go, without giving a toss about how I'm viewed by other people!
The truth is, when we pretend we are somebody or something else, we are leaving our true selves vacant. It distracts us from the real problem - we are hiding from a situation or a truth that we are too afraid to confront or realise. We convince ourselves of some other reality in which we feel our best, and then get frustrated when things don't go as we hope.
If things have been constantly going wrong in some aspect of your life, or if you are getting frustrated at not getting anywhere with something, you might need to take a look at how you approach it. You might see a lot of things inside yourself that you don't like: maybe you are too jealous, maybe you are scared of failure, or maybe you are afraid of other's opinions of yourself. Whatever you see in yourself, don't punish it. Nobody is perfect. Accept it, and move forward with it.
Let 2015 be the year you confront yourself. Investigate yourself. Do new, challenging things that push you out of your comfort zone. Whatever you are afraid of, confront it, and learn to dance with it! Even the painful stuff. You may find something that will change your life for the happier!
A happy person should look in the mirror and see themselves exactly as they are.
A New Year's resolution doesn't have to be about changing and improving yourself. You could add something to your life that changes and improves other people's lives!
There must be some cause that you believe in very strongly. Maybe you want to help fight poverty, or banish homelessness, or put an end to women's violence. There are more ways you can help achieve these than you think.
Start a fundraiser for a charity or organisation that fights for the cause you believe in. Start an account JustGiving, and use it to collect money for your organisation or cause. Give yourself a fundraising target of £1000 for the year, and try to raise about £100 every month.
Honestly, you can raise that money easily! This year I did a fundraiser for the organisation I worked with in Bolivia, and raised £800 in just over one month! Tell your friends, knock on your neighbours' doors, share it with your fellow Facebookers/Tweeters, and get creative. I raised £120 just by selling homemade desserts in my workplace in one lunchtime! You can use all of the skills and talents you have to achieve your target, and if you don't have any skills, you'll learn some!
Try taking up a voluntary shift for a local organisation. Volunteer for a couple of hours at an old people's home, a homeless shelter, a women's refuge, a special needs school. Contact some places and offer them a few hours of your time, your skills and your experience. Most of them will pull your arm off! You'll meet lots of new people, hear fascinating and inspiring stories and learn a few things too.
It's such a cliché, and out of all New Year Resolutions, this one is ditched most often.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight of course. There are a huge list of reasons why people choose to lose weight and they're all legitimate if it's an important truth for you.
Instead of making it a huge race to trim down to a certain size by a certain date, just make a simplistic lifestyle change, and see what happens! Don't make dramatic, overhauling changes. Don't set any targets or deadlines. You'll find it much less daunting that way. Making just a simple diet change can lead to a pretty significant weight loss without even trying!
Try make it not so much about losing weight, and combine it with another cause you care about. Try being vegetarian - or vegan if you're made of tougher stuff! Spare the animals.
Or you could cut out artificial sweeteners, caffeine, soft drinks and fast food - they're mean to your body and mess with your hormone function.
Try going lactose-free, or choose to eat low-carb. Back in 2010, I cut down all the carbs in my diet and lost over 4 stone (56lbs)!
You might not have amazing, fast results - that's not what you should aim for. Weight loss should be a slow, gradual process. That way, by the time you get to the weight you want to be, the changes you made will be part of your normal lifestyle! Making a simple tweak to your diet can work a miracle - it's less daunting, it's easier to adjust to and it's better than obsessing over those bloody calories.
And another thing. Don't weigh yourself. If you lose weight, you'll feel it in your clothes. You'll feel it in your body, and even if you haven't actually went down on the scales, it's nice to believe you've lost weight! It motivates you to move around even more and feel great about yourself. No harm in that!
Scales can be very misleading and cruel. Especially for the ladies: your weight wavers up and down all the time - just don't bother. If you're itching for numbers, then limit your weigh-ins by the month. There's nothing worse than working it hard all week, and finding that you've lost one lousy pound. Chances are, if you lose weight, the loss will be greater after one month, than one week. Seeing bigger loss is far more encouraging.
So if you really need to lose weight in 2015: take it slow, start small, be patient. Good Luck!