2016 Resolutions: New Year, Better Me

Each New Year I often hear the saying: “New Year, New Me”, but that implies that you aren’t currently good enough. Which is why I prefer the phrase “New Year, Better Me”. I like who I am right now, so I don’t feel the need to be a new person, but I think we can always work on bettering ourselves. Because when we better ourselves, we better those around us. New Year’s is a great opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make goals for the coming year; I also believe it is important to put your reflection and goals down in writing so that you can go back and check in on your goal progress throughout the year.

With that said, 2015 may have been my best year yet, so 2016 has a lot of work to do if it wants to top it. I spent 2015 pretty equally divided living in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Budapest. I visited nine new countries, met countless new friends, and didn’t work at any fast-food chains, which I spent far too much time doing in 2014. I hope 2016 brings just as much fun and adventure.

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My favorite time to reflect usually involves a good view

And with each New Year brings the inevitable resolutions that I tend to forget after two or three months. However this year I am determined not to forget them, so I am putting them out here to keep me accountable. I would say that my unofficial first resolution of 2016 is to not forget my resolutions. So without further ado, here are my New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Prioritize well-being. Yeah, yeah, I know, the most stereotypical resolution ever. But as fun as studying abroad was, it kinda killed my health. I tend to be a little bit of a health-nut, but constant travel led to a lack of sleep, as well as a non-consistent sleeping schedule, a little too much drinking, hardly any exercise besides walking a lot, and the desire to try the traditional foods of every city I visited. Do I regret any of that? No, but my body might a little bit. So it’s time to get a little health-nutty again.
  2. Further embrace minimalism. This summer before I went abroad, I read the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which my Chinese professor recommended to our class – and I now highly recommend! The essence of the book involves going through all of your belongings and only keeping items that “spark joy” when you hold them. I spent the first few weeks of my summer getting rid of lots of things and effectively organizing what I decided to keep. Then I went abroad and fit four months of my life into a suitcase. Upon returning, I hated how much stuff I still had and got rid of even more things. Living with only the necessities for so long made me realize how much I’d rather have a few things I really enjoy than lots of things I may only like a little. Becoming Minimalist has lots of great articles about embracing simplicity that I plan on diving deeper into.
  3. Read 15 books. To an avid reader, this goal probably seems extremely easy. But I am not an avid reader. I read a lot as a kid, but once books and readings became mandatory in high school and college, I fell out of love with reading and viewed it as a burden. Now I probably read five books for pleasure a year because I tend to view time spent reading better spent on homework or catching up on emails. So instead of scrolling through Instagram while riding the train to class or watching Netflix before bed, I resolve to make more time for sitting down with a book. I also just signed up for a 30-day free trial on Audible, which is an audiobook retailer. I’m going to see if I enjoy audiobooks and if I do, I’m going to include those books as part of my goal to 15.
  4. Educate myself. Like reading, I have a list of things I want to teach myself that I never seem to make time for. I want to learn coding (Codecademy is a great resource), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Google Analytics, and improve my foreign languages. I can speak a little Spanish, Chinese, and Hungarian, however I’ve never stuck with a foreign language long enough to become any better than slightly conversational. One of my long-term life goals is to become fluent in another language. I also want to better keep up with the world news, and because I’m studying Finance, I want to keep up with financial news and read the Wall Street Journal. However, educating myself is another one of those things that I need to create time for in my life. The extra time won’t appear out of thin air unless I make it a priority. Part of this resolution involves re-arranging my priorities, which will definitely be a challenge because it means breaking some habits.
  5. Learn to meditate. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed health-nut. I frequently read online articles about health, well-being, living longer, and happiness. And one recurring recommendation I always hear about is meditation. However, it’s the one thing I’ve never really tried to embrace or incorporate into my life. But how can I call myself a health-nut if I never give it a shot? I constantly read about the benefits of meditation, so it’s time to give it a try. I downloaded the app Headspace this week and I just finished my fifth day in a row of doing a 10 minute meditation; so far I enjoy taking ten minutes during my day to relax and worry about absolutely nothing. This is something I hope to incorporate into a lifelong practice.
  6. Be present. This resolution goes hand-in-hand with my resolution to meditate. I often find myself thinking about what’s next and not being fully present and enjoying the moment. Therefore, I resolve to bring my mind back to the present when I find myself unnecessarily worrying or thinking about the future.
  7. Nurture relationships. It’s easy to lose contact with someone when you don’t see them every day. And when your life is on the move a lot like mine is now, those people you don’t see everyday increase even more. So my resolution is to keep in contact with friends I don’t want to lose simply due to distance. That means calling, Skyping, and grabbing coffee together when we happen to be in the same city. I value each relationship I have, but sometimes it requires a little extra effort to keep it strong.

There you have it, my resolutions for 2016. Hopefully they’ve inspired you to make some of your own, or even adapt one of mine. It may seem that my resolutions are selfish because most focus on bettering myself, rather than things like giving back to the community or donating to charity, however I truly believe that when you better yourself, you inspire those around you to better themselves as well. Humans are innately selfish, and I think it’s okay to be selfish, as long as it’s not harming anyone else.

If you do chose to make some resolutions this year, I encourage you to write them down, even if it’s something as simple as my dad’s resolution to floss every day.

Happy New Year everyone, cheers to 2016!

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