For one reason or another, we all like to start fresh and what better time to do so than the New Year?. We can set new goals or readjust old ones that we didn't quite achieve last year. If you're looking for something new to accomplish in 2013, here's a list of excellent ideas that will drastically improve your life.
1. Master a skill you've taken forever to learn. When I say master, I mean to truly become an expert on the skill or subject matter. Maybe it's a language you've always wanted to learn but quit after the first few courses or perhaps it's a musical instrument that just seemed beyond your grasp. This year, dedicate yourself to mastering the skill. Tim Ferris, author of the 4 hour workweek just published a book on how you can master 1-2 new skills a year, called the The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life.
2. Repair a broken relationship with a loved one. Is there someone in your life you wish you had a better relationship with? Perhaps it's a lifelong friend that did something you felt was unforgivable and now you no longer talk. Maybe it's your mom never stops complaining about the life you've created for yourself. No matter who it is, it tugs at your heart that the relationship is the way it is. This year, FIX IT. Regardless who did what, take the first step to repair the relationship. The love and care that comes out of the relationship far exceeds any wrong doing that occurred in the past. Forgive and move past it. Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
3. Get rid of stuff. If you look around your home, you'll probably find more than half of its contents are things that you have not touched in the last year. Spend every month of this year dedicated to a specific project or room in your home to unclutter. Maybe January could be about the hallway closet and February dedicated to the bathroom and then March you focus on the kitchen cabinets and drawers which probably has expired goods and utensils so bent out of shape they're useless. There are tons of websites dedicated to uncluttering your home, just Google it and be inspired. You'll create room for new, exciting things to enter into your life just by getting rid of old stuff. Just do it. Let go of the crap. Don't be attached to things that add no value to your life.
4. Get rid of debt. I've recently discovered the book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey and have dedicated 2013 to reducing our debt to $0. At first I'm sure it sounds like an impossible goal (I have $40,000 left in student loan debt, $16,000 in car debt, $5,000 in credit car debt on top of a $430,000 mortgage...and we just had a baby so I haven't worked for 1 year). With such a heavy financial burden, we've been drowning for the past 6 months, wondering how we can make the next months' payments. Dave Ramsey's book lays out a fail-proof blueprint on how you can do it...but you have to intensely follow its path and start by getting rid of stuff you can't afford (like your nice car). It's about taking control of your income so that every dollar you make is not already labeled with some banks' name on it because of the money you owe. Without monthly payments, you'd be able to become a millionaire much more quickly than you ever imagined (without having to win the lotto or follow some get rich quick scheme).
5. Travel somewhere exotic. I use the term 'exotic' loosely to describe any place you've always wanted to visit but haven't be able to. It doesn't have to be some far off place that will cost your entire months' salary. It could be a short drive to a small town just an hour away from your home. The idea is to visit someplace special, that you've heard about and have dreamed of going, but have never made it happen. This year, pick the place (or a few) and set a date to go. invite your friends. The more you do this, the more places you'll eventually visit each year. Save up for the special spots that will cost you more to visit. Don't give yourself excuses...cross off items from your bucket list each year...not 10+ years from now when who knows where you'll be and in what financial and health situation you'll be living in.
6. Redo your home. Your home is your sanctuary, it should be a comfortable, refreshing place for you to retreat to everyday. When you come home from the world, do you feel relaxed? Does your home promote serenity and peacefulness? Maybe it once did, but it's been years since you've repainted the walls, rearranged the furniture, or replanted new blossoms. Every month out of the year, redo a part of your home. Maybe plant fresh flowers in the front lawn or apply an exciting coat of paint to your living area. At the end of the year, you'll feel like you moved into a brand new home.
7. Pick up a new hobby. So many people think that you have to start young to learn something quickly. The fact is that as an adult, you'll have developed many learning strategies that will short-cut the learning process for you. In 2013, select a new hobby to learn. It'll add a new thrill to your life as you pick up new techniques, history (of the hobby), and even develop a new community of friends within that new hobby.
8. Read books. The best way to improve yourself is to read. Read biographies of great leaders, read self-improvement books, read productivity books, and read books that teach you how to read faster. A good goal is to read a new book a week. To get ahead in your career, having extensive knowledge of whatever field you work in will give you a huge advantage over those who don't read up on the latest in your industry. You'll find people will want to introduce you and your ideas to someone important that could help you get ahead. You don't have to buy books either, you local library has tons of books to choose from, including the latest popular books on the market.
9. Learn to cook. EVERYONE EATS. Cooking shouldn't be some foreign activity that you've never engaged in. Spend some time learning the basics. Take a course or just watch a few YouTube videos on cooking. Learn at least 5 new dishes this year. Cooking not only saves you money, but it's healthier than eating out (you know what goes into the dish) and its a great way to bond with friends and family as you share a meal together in the home. I've never known anyone who has taken a few steps towards cooking and then hated it and forever refused to enter the kitchen. Instead, you'll find the more you learn the more you'll explore and create. It's a great way to de-stress too at the end of a long day.
10. Give your time. It doesn't have to be in a formal volunteer setting. Just help your grandma repair a broken clock, or take her laundry out for her. Show a friend how to use his latest new gadget or give someone a ride to the airport before they ask for the ride. One of the best gifts you can give someone is your very limited, precious time. Nothing says more to your wife than you taking a day off work just to be with her. Make it a daily, weekly, or monthly habit to give your gift of time to someone who needs it. I'm sure whoever you give it to will appreciate it.
BONUS Resolution: Set a vision for your future. Spend a significant amount of time reflecting on your long term goals. Then sit down at a desk, with all distractions minimized, and write them down. The more you visualize your ideal future and write down steps to attain it, the more likely and quickly you'll do so.