2020 has been a wild year. From COVID, to the election and everything in between 2020 will be one for the books and most of us are looking forward to the next year, like we do every year. “[insert year] will be MY YEAR” or “[insert year] is the year things start to change for the better” are some of the posts and comments you’ll hear as we get closer to New Years Eve, but putting hope aside, we all know the year changing doesn’t mean squat.
Keeping reality in mind, what are some things we can do to ACTUALLY make a REAL change in 2021 that will have tangible results. Below are some small, realistic and impactful changes/habits that I believe will leave you in a better situation than you started at the end of 2021.
Health – Yes, most of us would like to lose a few pounds in 2021, but setting lofty goals will likely result in failure and disappointment, we are only human after all. I’m sure most of you have heard of these before, but I feel reiterating them might jog some motivation in a few people.
- Park further away from the entrance – Easy concept, but by actually putting it in practice can seriously add some “steps” to your life resulting in more calories burnt and a healthier heart/cardiovascular system. .
- Take the stairs when you don’t have to take an elevator – This is hard for most people, including myself, but just like parking further away from an entrance, over time taking the stairs can help you out, especially if you work in or visit a building with stairs/elevator daily.
- Cut out just ONE major junk food for the year – What’s something that you intake often that you know for sure needs to go? For me it’s soda, for others it might be candy or ice cream. Now I’m not saying to cut it out of ALL occasions, but making a focus to cut the “habit” of it out of your life can have a drastic impact on your health.
Finances – Most of us don’t need a new years resolution to wish we had a better grasp of our finances or to wish we had more money, but hoping without a plan is only a wish. Budgets are tight, especially with COVID closing down jobs and people barely making ends meet. Since I’m not a millionaire, I’m obviously not a subject matter expert on finances, but below are some practices that I believe any billionaire would agree with me on.
- Start actually saving more – Don’t we all wish we had the extra money to set aside for a rainy day? Saving doesn’t mean you have to throw a large chunk into your savings account, but it does mean you have to put SOMETHING in there and NOT TOUCH IT, that’s the hard part.
- Invest – just like a savings account it’s easy to say “I just don’t have enough to invest”, but you do. There’s plenty of easy apps out there like acorn.com or stash.com that you can invest a couple dollars a week into industries or companies that YOU believe are on the rise. Also cryptocurrencies are hot right now and easy to purchase with any budget.
- Stop buying “small stuff” – Stopping at the gas station to get gas or grab an item is commonplace for most of us, but unfortunately it’s also common place for us to convince ourselves that we “deserve” that bag of chips or that pack of candy that only cost $2. That $2 will add up and more often than you think. Make it a point to NOT buy anything you DON’T NEED.
Interpersonal Relationships – Whether it be with dating, family, work or friends, we’d all benefit more from improving these relationships and how we interact with and prioritize them. We tend to neglect some or all of these areas at some point, that’s just life, but practicing the methods below will improve things and just might help open networking doors that would otherwise remain closed.
- Romantic Relationships – Assuming you’re not single, there are some forms of “thoughtfulness” that most of us don’t show the person we deem “most special” in our life as we’d like, and showing a little extra can drastically improve things and prevent negative outcomes from neglect. One way to ensure you don’t neglect them is setting a recurring alert on your phone to just tell them you love them or to do a simple act of love such as unloading the dishwasher or just giving them a hug can make a huge difference.
- Distant Family/Acquaintances – You don’t want to be that son or daughter who never calls or that grandkid that only reaches out to Nanna and Poppy during the holidays, or even that friend that never tries to connect. You can set a reminder like the example for romantic relationships above or you can try and make it a habit while you’re watching your favorite show to text one family member or old friend during the commercial just saying you miss them. Not only is it nice and makes them feel loved and missed, but you’re also keeping doors open that normally wouldn’t be.
- Professional Relationships – Business is business, but more often than not business gets done easier and more efficiently when you have some kind of personal report with those professional connections. This is a huge reason why “happy hours” and “client outings” are such an important part in sales and business, it builds confidence that you can trust the other person and their word just a little more because you’ve connected with them on a level OTHER than just business. “But my job isn’t like that” you say, maybe yours isn’t a savvy businessy type job like sales or something, but the benefits remain the same. Just taking a minute out of your day to ask how your coworker is doing and be genuinely engaged can help improve your work relationships and them possibly helping you out when you need them most.
Aspirations & Goals – Most of us have things we’d like to do outside of our relationships and work, but always seem to take a backseat or the motivation just dies out. I always tell people “Motivation will get you going, but habit is what gets you there”. This can be applied to money, fitness or learning a new skill. Below are some ways that I believe can keep the fire burning that pushes you to make your goals into reality.
- Making time and the time known to others – Not only do you need to set aside time to work toward your goals, but you also need to let those closest to you know that it is important to you. You may have to deal with friends or family telling you that “it’s stupid”, “a waste of time” or they might just get mad that you’re willing to do something without them during the time you would normally do something with them, but if they value you, they will respect the time you take to work toward your goals.
- Actually make a plan – I’ve talked to a lot of people who have plans, but have never actually sat down to map that plan out to see what the next step is or if that step is realistically attainable. By sitting down and learning what point A and B look like you’ll have a clearer understanding of what it takes to get to C and everything in between.
- Networking & Learning – Get into the industry, market, scene or whatever you want to call the “space” that your aspirations or goals exist in the real world. Take 10 minutes out of each day to follow a blog regarding what you’re into, add someone on LinkedIn that is a leader in that industry. Instead of listening to music the whole ride home, listen to a podcast with experts in the area you’re interested in. Just by slowly dipping your toes into the water you’ll find that before long you’re nearly fully submerged in what you WANT to be doing instead of only wishing you were.
As I always say, I’m not an expert on these things and I’m not pretending like I follow all of these suggestions to a T, but it’s also hard to argue that by keeping these methods in mind and applying them more often that you wouldn’t have a better outcome and a better year come December 2021. Wish you all a very Happy Holidays!