Probably there is no more useless activity than complaining about your life, looking for excuses why things went the way they did for you and worked out for others while doing nothing to change the situation. The only person you should be trying to be better is the person you were yesterday. Living up to your full potential is not a matter of winning, but a matter of continuous improvement and pushing yourself to do and be better every single day.
Even those who do not believe in the power of New Year resolutions will definitely agree that New Year is a great reason for taking a New Challenge: to put yourself out of the comfort zone and finally start doing that one thing that you have been postponing until tomorrow, next week or next month.
The post below lists 45 interesting New Year Resolutions ideas that will make you a better person in 2018.
Keep in mind that proper planning and smart goal setting will significantly increase your chances to succeed, therefore after getting inspired by reading this post, you are highly recommended to read Planning before everything
1. Eat more healthy
There is nothing more important than health. Therefore, stop finding excuses: start cooking healthy food and bringing packed lunches to your office, cut down on carbs and sugar and learn to control emotional eating. Keeping a food diary will help you control your eating habits and become more conscious about your food choices.
2. Sleep better
Sufficient and good sleep at night contributes to better performance, awareness, mood, ability to handle stress, skin quality, sports performance, the capacity to learn new things, and the ability to maintain general wellbeing. How to achieve better sleep? Use organic bed materials to avoid allergies that disturb your sleep, ventilate the bedroom properly at night and use houseplants to improve air quality, avoid blue spectrum light in the evening and increase red spectrum light to kickstart the production of melatonin that plays a crucial role in regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, place WLAN routers and mobile phones at a distance and switch them to flight mode to avoid electromagnetic pollution during your sleep. To wake up without stress, try using a smart alarm clock with a light that imitates a natural sunrise, f.e. Philips Hue; and when awake – jump-start your body with inversions or yoga to reduce the muscle tension from the night.
3. Check your health regularly
Preventing any disease is definitely easier than curing it, therefore make a commitment to have regular doctor appointments to control your health.
4. Move more
Many of us spend around 6 hours a day sitting at their desks in front of computers. We’re all well aware that this isn’t a healthy way to live – it increases the likelihood of becoming overweight and depressed, but we do it anyway. To avoid these negative consequences, try to move more next year. It has never been easier to track your daily activity level- almost every mobile phone has an embedded tracker of your activity. Depending on your lifestyle, think of the way to move more: introduce a rule to walk at least 3km per day or to always use stairs instead of an elevator.
5. Work on your mindfulness
Mindfulness is the human ability to be fully in present, aware of where you are and what you are doing. It suggests that the mind is fully focused on what’s happening right now. Whenever you bring awareness to you are experiencing via your senses, thoughts or emotions, you’re being mindful. Mindfulness takes many forms, and there are a lot of techniques to practice it. One of them, 5-4-3-2-1 technique: you need to sit or lie down in a comfortable position, take a deep breath and then start to notice your senses:5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
6. Start journaling
Writing, especially self-exploratory writing done on a regular basis, contributes to your emotional well-being, a strong sense of self-knowledge and self-trust. Moreover, it helps to release tension and it can serve as a problem-solving technique and a way to release negative emotions. Journaling is a good and easy way to introduce self-exploratory writing into your life. It helps us to practice mindfulness and emotional intelligence, improve vocabulary and communication skills. You do not need to write much, just do it on a regular basis: for example, every time before going to bed you can spend 10 min writing about your life satisfaction, your future vision, your problems and possible solutions, your objectives and ways to achieve them.
7. Practice meditating
Surprisingly, more than 80% of most successful people from Tim Ferris’s book “Tool of Titans” have some form of daily meditation. There are scientific studies that show the many benefits of meditating: meditating helps to improve your mood, it reduces stress, it lessens anxiety, and it even increases your brain’s ability for decision making, and self-control.
To learn more about the topic, knowledgeable people recommend to start with reading “Mind Illuminated”, try the meditation from Sam Harris “Death and the Present Moment” performance and follow the reddit channel about meditation.
8. Work on self-control
Many of us may have trouble managing emotions like anger, sadness or frustration.Self-management is important to control your emotions so that they don’t control you: you should learn how to confront impulsive feelings and behaviors and manage your emotions in healthy ways. To achieve this, try the following: breathing and counting to 10 when in stressful situations to monitor yourself and not react right away, try to look at the situation from the perspective of another person reframing the context or content.
9. Invest time in self-awareness
Self-awareness uncovers any destructive thought-patterns and unhealthy habits, which leads to better decision-making and behavioral responses. How to work on your self-awareness? Expand your emotional vocabulary: emotions create powerful physical and behavioral responses that are more complex than “happy” or “sad.” Putting your feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on your brain; Break visceral reactions: assess situations objectively and rationally, without acting on biases and stereotypes; remember the rule of three why’s: before acting on a decision, ask yourself “Why?” Follow up your response with another “Why?” And then a third; Know your personality type: it allows you to maximize your strengths and manage your weaknesses.
To learn more about the topic, read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
10. Practice gratitude
No doubts that we always need to improve ourselves and get better, however, what is even more important is to be grateful for what we have already achieved. You should always remind yourself of things and people you should be grateful to. There are studies that show that gratitude can make you 25% happier. Being grateful will also help you to overcome adversity, improve the quality of your sleep, and allow you to get along better with others.
There are many ways to practice gratitude. For example, In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg made a New Year resolution to practice compassion by writing a thank you note to someone each day. You can do the same this year or simply adopt a famous Tim Ferris exercise: every evening writing down one good thing about the day.
11. Understand the decision-making science and how the brain works
Can you imagine how the life would be if we all just knew how to make good decisions? Research shows that all of us make a lot of bad decisions both in our personal and professional lives. One of the reasons why it happens is the lack of understanding of the decision-making process. Understanding the neuroscience behind making a decision, the way emotions affect the decision-making process and the strategies to control it can be helpful when targeting new behaviors and changing bad habits. It can also help us make decisions that lead to positive outcomes in the future and avoid self-destructive choices
To learn more about optimising your decision-making, you can read “Rationality: From AI to Zombies” written by decision theorist and researcher at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Yudkowsky – explains the science underlying human irrationality: how the mind works (and how, all too often, it doesn’t). Other must check websites are Overcomingbias.com and Lesswrong.com.
12. Learn how to learn
It may sound a bit weird but you also need to learn how to learn. Unfortunately, the current educational system does not pay enough attention to that crucial aspect. Understanding how our brain works can be applied not only to better decision making but also to increase our learning abilities.
13. Improve your memory
The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change – neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, you can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age. For example. start with learning How to Remember Names with the FACE method: Focus – focus carefully on the person’s face; Ask- inquire which version he prefers (“Is it Mike or Michael?”); Comment– say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head (“The name of the father in the Brady Bunch was Mike.”); Employ — put the name to use–”It’s nice to meet you, Mike”–to drive it home.
14. Form useful habits
Excellence is not an act but a habit — Aristotle. Extremely successful people of all times have one thing in common – they give great importance to their daily routines and habits. Empirical research estimates that up to 45% of our daily actions are based on habits. It does not matter if we are talking about getting more things done at work, leading a healthier lifestyle or mastering a new skill, – those who manage to control and optimize their habits tend to achieve higher results with less effort.
Think about your big goal and possible habits that will help you achieve it. For example, getting fit – starting your morning with daily exercises / increase your savings – stop buying Starbucks coffee on the way to work/learning German – using two rounds of Duolingo every day. Then use the principle of “3R’s of Habit Change” to start working on it: 1) Reminder – an external cue that causes an overall spike in your brain activity (alarm ringing) 2) Routine – a certain activity you are performing when faced a particular cue (brushing your teeth) 2) Reward – a benefit that you receive after completing the routine (fresh teeth).
15. Learn smth new every day
One of the best habits you can ever develop is to learn something new every day in order to have a better understanding of the world and how it works. Thanks to the internet it has never been easier to organize. You can subscribe to Wikipedia’s Featured Article mailing list to receive an email each morning containing Wikipedia’s featured article for that day or watch a TED Talk every morning while you eat breakfast. Here are the 20 Best Ted Talks to get you started.
16. Broaden your horizons
Do you want to become a more well-educated person in all aspects of life? it will definitely make it easier for you to get on well with a variety of people from different backgrounds wherever you go. Art, music, culture, history, philosophy: choose a topic of the year and commit to increasing your knowledge in this domain. For example: visit a different museum each month, follow online course about world history, become a member of local book club, commit to watch all top 20 movies from IMDB or remember 10 names of composers each week.
17. Read more books
Books require concentration and time while we live in a world of multi-tasking and constant time pressure, in a world of numerous deadlines and availability 24/7. It is not easy to find space for books in such a hectic life. Сonsidering all relevant questions – what, how, when and why we read – is the only way to do it.
To learn more about optimizing your reading habits, check out How to read more books?
18. Start listening to podcasts
Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new without much effort. Consider listening to some podcasts about the topic you would like to learn more about while commuting to work, cooking dinner or training in the gym.
19. Discover long-reads
Long-reads are getting more & more popularity and there is a clear reason why: they give an in-depth overview of the variety of controversial topics in an easy way accessible to everybody. You can follow original sources like Esquire ; The Atlantic; the New York Times, The Guardian or aggregators like Longreads. To make reading easier, look for applications that let you read all your favorite articles in one place, like Feedly or Pocket that also allows you to listen to the audio version of the selected articles
20. Become more creative
Ideas are a new currency of our generation. Money is a finite resource while ideas – not. Good ideas result in good experiences, better ideas, better experiences and financial wealth as a side effect. Therefore, you should definitely aim at becoming better at ideas by exercising your idea generation muscle to explore creativity. The key to becoming an “idea machine” is practice. Try to write down 10 ideas every day on different topics. For example, 10 books you could write; 10 businesses you could start; 10 ways to improve Amazon revenues and so on.
To learn more about the topic, start with “Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century” and then the following articles 1, 2 and list of books.
21. Learn a new language
Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single-language speakers. These differences offer several mental benefits, such as better problem solving and decision making, building multi-tasking skills, memory improvements. Moreover, learning a new language will help you meet new people, travel and it will also look great on your resume, which altogether will possibly open up some new doors for you.
22. Pay more attention to your relationships with others
If you want to make your relationships with others more effective, fruitful and fulfilling, start paying more attention to small things – they truly matter. Always say “thank you”, “please” and “I’m sorry”, say other people’s names more often, try to find something in common with your conversation partners and remember a few key personal details about them. On a subconscious level, you’ll quickly become somebody they remember liking and will want to be around. Don’t shy away from offering a compliment or expressing gratitude, it’s important for building relationships with others: when you feel someone close or when someone is doing great work, just say it.
To learn more about the topic, start with reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey
23. Become a great listener
Listening to someone talking is not about being silent and waiting for your turn to speak while preparing in your mind what you are going to say next or thinking about something else. Conscious listening is making a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but trying to understand the complete message being sent and the rationale behind it. To test your listening skills, choose one person you disagree with on the topic you like and take them out for lunch: try to keep your mind open and become an active listener using RASA method: Receive — which means to pay attention to the person speaking; Appreciate–making little noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “okay”; Summarize—summarize what you think you heard the other person say; Ask–ask questions afterward to make sure that you understood the other person’s message.
To learn more about active listening, read “The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships” by Michael P. Nichols and follow the Julian Treasure who studies sound and teaches businesses how to best use it
24. Work on your abilities to give
The most common advice from leaders of to the next generation: Help others. According to HBR, That was a key theme in almost two-thirds of the talks in a study of graduation speeches at U.S. universities. Graduates are promised by those who have “made it” that being generous — readily sharing their time, energy, and expertise — will lead to a successful career and a meaningful, happy life.
There are 6 profiles of givers: Experts who share knowledge, Coaches who teach skills, Mentors who give advice & guidance, Connectors who make introductions, Extra-milers who show up early, stay late and volunteer for extra work, Helpers who provide hands-on task support and emotional support. Think what type of giving you feel more comfortable about and do it without wanting anything back: share your job search experience with a friend who is currently in a job search, mentor that young intern who started several weeks ago in your organization or introduce two acquaintances who have a lot in common.
To learn more about the topic, read Adam Grant’s book Give and Take.
25. Become more assertive & persuasive
By learning the principles that guide human behavior, and applying these principles ethically, you can significantly increase the chances that you’ll get what you want and get others to say “yes” to your requests. The first step to becoming more persuasive is to communicate more assertively. Communicating assertively means that you make sure you’re calm; you know what you want; you speak directly to the person concerned and not behind their back and you communicate your needs and your feelings, in an honest, clear and direct manner.
To learn more about the topic, read “The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Sold” by Robert V. Levine and “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini.
26. Improve Your Body Language
Body language is a way of nonverbal communication that involves gestures and movements. First of all, you need to start paying attention to your body language to become aware of how you use it to communicate with others. Recognizing the kinds of nonverbal messages that we send to others can be a huge part improving our relationships. Moreover, scientific studies have shown that the right body language can help you connect with others and get your message across more effectively, communicate confidence and assertiveness and even to improve your performance.
To learn more about the topic, read The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara and Allan Pease, “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception” By Pamela Meyer, follow this blog and watch this documentary “Body Talk – Power“.
27. Master storytelling
Good stories always beat good spreadsheets. We all are emotional human beings after all. What does the listener want to hear? He wants to hear a story. Why? Everyone loves stories. They have been told for thousands of years and their concept is as urgent today as never before. When a great story is told, we lean forward and our heart rate accelerates as the story unfolds. How do you actually build a story? Storytelling is an art that you need to learn. There are so many different methods that are used for creating stories: monomyth (hero’s journey from unknown to known), mountain (mapping the tension and drama), nested loops (layering several narratives within each other) and others.
To learn more about storytelling, read The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall and check out this article 1.
28. Guarantee more quality time with your loved ones
Make sure to spend enough time with your loved ones while it is still possible. Find time to call your parents at least every week and visiting your old aunt every two months.
29. Meet new people more often
Every new person you meet has something to teach you. You just need to give them a chance: talk to strangers, learn to love networking, become friends with someone from a completely different circle, become curious about other cultures & traditions. Meeting new people can be beneficial to your mental well-being, personal and professional growth, therefore try to overcome your shyness. Check out local meetup communities on meetup.com, find current networking events in your area on Facebook or eventful.com, host or show your city to some travelers from couchsurfing.com – and new opportunities will follow straight away.
To learn more about the topic, read Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi and”Dig the Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need” by Harvey McKay.
30. Reconnect with people from the past
Keeping in touch is not always easy. Remember that nice colleague of yours from your first internship in London, your neighbor when you were studying in China for an exchange semester or that impressive banker you met during one of the networking events last year? You both wanted to stay in touch but then life happened. No need to find an excuse or postpone: just look them up and write them to reconnect, right now. And do it on a regular basis. You will be surprised how many people from your past will be genuinely happy to reestablish your relationships and be of help when needed.
31. Learn Touch Typing and increase your speed
If you don’t know how to touch type, this is where you need to start. Having the ability to type without looking at the keyboard is the most important factor in achieving a fast typing speed, which will make you much more productive. Take some time every day to practice touch typing and work on your speed and accuracy. There are many free sources for practice available online: 1, 2, 3.
32. Boost your Excel productivity
It does not matter if you are working in finance, supply chain, marketing or project management, being proficient in Excel is no longer regarded as something impressive. Otherwise, it is considered as a must-have skill without which you will be not efficient at work. Everything that you are trying to do in Excel most likely has already been done before. Therefore, the golden rule of saving time is not to reinvent the wheel – just make the most use out of what is available: learn shortcuts, spend some time studying Excel functionality, explore different add-ins or practice VBA.
33. Learn the art of presentations
Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill that nowadays is required almost in every field. Whether you are a student or business executive, start-up founder or academic grant applicant, a candidate for an elected position or sports event organizer, one day you will most likely be asked to prepare a presentation. How to make your presentation stand out and rise to the top? Presentation success is based on three main concepts: content (structure and info delivery), visuals (slides and other supporting materials) and performance (public speaking and communication skills).
34. Learn to search information effectively
When we do not know something, we just “google it”. However, a professional search is not as easy as it seems. You will be surprised to find out all the numerous tricks and hints that can make your search more effective. Investing some time in boosting your searching skills will be useful for both personal and professional purpose. Using search operators or advanced search, using google alternatives such as meta /local / multi-language search engines, special social search and people search engines, setting up search alerts and installing useful add-ons to connect with social, monitor pages, SEO and so on.
35. Invest in your professional skills
As a professional, you need to constantly update your expertise and develop your skills to meet growing demands of the market. Think about the transformation of your profession and what skills would be required in the future: for example, more & more computer scientists are learning big data programming languages such as R or Python, and business analysts are expected to know SQL. Find a good course on Coursera or another MOOC platform and you will thank yourself in several years.
36. Follow the world changes
Bitcoin, blockchain, net neutrality, omnichannel, precision agriculture, genome editing, connected home, smart cities, GDPR. I am pretty sure that you did not manage to spend your 2017 without hearing at least one of these words several times. However, many of us lack a good understanding of how all these things can actually affect our everyday lives and why they should matter to everyone. The world is changing rapidly and sometimes you feel like lagging behind. It always feels good to be a visionary and understand where the world is going: it allows you to have a bigger picture and open your mind to ideas and opportunities that otherwise might not be possible.
If you want to be up to date with all these important trends, start following special channels like CBinsights, TechCrunch, The Next Web and read The Industries of the Future by Alec J. Ross and The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly.
37. Build your personal brand online
Nowadays every professional needs to establish a personal brand online: it is not anymore only about keeping inappropriate things off the Web, but about strategical positioning yourself so that potential employers, customers, partners can see you’re qualified, actively engaged, and knowledgeable. No one wants to talk about your abilities anymore, they want to see results. Therefore you need to use the online platform to show your real value as a professional and demonstrate skills in action and results. For example, if you’re a creator, put together an online portfolio. If you work as a business consultant, share several business cases you worked on during last years.
38. Get better at negotiations
The ability to negotiate successfully in today’s turbulent business climate can make the difference between success and failure. It is a skill you must master and an art you must develop. Successful negotiation is an art form that comes naturally to some but must be learned by most.Certain techniques we will be covering in our event, that have proven track record:1) Determine your desired outcome before you start your negotiation2) Know your audience.3) Listen, listen, and listen some more.4) Lead with optimism.5) Never threaten and don’t get emotionally involved6) Never walk away feeling you “pulled one over” on someone else
To learn more about negotiations, start with reading “Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton and “Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult SituationsGetting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations” by William Ury.
39. Optimize your to-do management system
If you still write your to-dos on stickers or rely on your memory to remember all the different things you have to do, invest in building a proper TO-DO management system this year. To-do list is a must-have no matter where and how you decide to have it: GTD, bucket list, trello, todoist, basecamp, calendar. It will make you more organized, productive and you will see a significant increase in progress made towards all your objectives. Apply the basic laws of productivity: 2 min rule (if the action takes less than 2 minutes, do not postpone it, do it straight away) or 3 times rule (if you postpone the action more than 3 times, remove it from your to-do list since it has a low priority level)
To start with to do management system, the best way is to read GTD by David Allen.
40. Earn back your concentration
Intellectual work requires a high level of concentration during a significant period of time. It is not as easy as it sounds because the world is full of distractions.You are not the only one struggling with this problem. Even the most successful and intelligent people in world history found it difficult to avoid distractions. How to stay focused? First of all, take control of your time: use time trackers to see where and how you lose your time and to monitor your effective working hours a day (f.e. Toggl, Hours, Everhour). Then, become proactive – fight your distraction: start with ignoring or better removing all the notifications, then install the app/web blocker on your mobile/laptop (f.e. Omnifocus, RescueTime, Go Fucking Work or ColdTurkey), make a game out of staying away from your mobile phone/social media while you are working. Then, adopt Pomodoro technique – work with a timer in a set of fixed intervals without distractions with small breaks in between
41. Set aside time to achieve your dreams
How long have you already been thinking about starting that youtube channel / blog or launching that startup? Make 2018 the year of your side project. Stop telling yourself that you simply don’t have the time to work on your dreams, time is just a resource that you allocate based on your priorities. Therefore, make your dreams your priorities this year and commit to spending one-hour-a-day / three hours a week on making some progress towards your dream. You should just start and everything else will follow
42. Increase your email productivity
An average person sends and receives 125 emails per day. Considering that, an office employee spends 13 hours per week only on emails, which is 28 percent of all the time they are at work. How to manage your EMAIL? Check emails at a set time – since the notifications are removed, it makes sense to set certain time slots to check & answer your email. You can even use Inbox Pause for Gmail and let the e-mails drop in at certain times only; Schedule your emails – use Boomerang to control the timing of your emails. Convert your email to project management system – use streak or other project management add-ons to manage different projects like finding a job/new house or launching a new product.
To learn more about the topic, start with How to optimize your Email?
43. Delegate more & learn to say no
If you are significantly under pressure and feel like getting close to burn out, take a pause. New Year is a good reason for starting saying NO more often. There is nothing wrong with saying no. You’re the boss of your own time. If you have to decline a request in order to do what is really important – do so. Moreover, try to delegate more when you can: normally deligating is mutually beneficial
44. Get control of your personal finance
There are so many easy, user-friendly personal finance applications available, that it is just not possible to find an excuse not to use them. Control your spendings, review your accounts to identify unneeded expenses and possible ways to optimize your finances, make a budget and try to stick to it. Make 2018 a year to see your savings grow and finally take your finance under control.
45. Get rid off what you do not need
It has been found that having less clutter makes people happy. Moreover, less stuff to manage, to look for, to move out of the way and to keep clean means you get more time for more important things. Sort your email and unsubscribe of numerous newsletters you do not read, give away your old clothes to charity and the books to the library, organize your working space or even commit to “clean desk policy”, arrange one big eBay sale per year to get rid of all the stuff you do not need.
To learn more about the topic, check out The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay and Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider
Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post helpful and inspiring. However, keep in mind that making resolutions is only the beginning. To succeed with your goals and stick to your New Year’s resolutions, you need to develop a long-term planning system and follow it as it is described in detail in Planning before everything.
I wish you all to have a great time with your family and friends! Happy New Year and of good luck with your resolutions 🙂
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