The time has come again to look back at all the failed resolutions from last year and vow to really stick to your new ones this year. It happens every year, but that doesn't mean it’s not worth putting everything you've got toward your goals again. The best approach to the new year is to form habits instead of chasing extravagant goals.
Here are six habits that I would like to bake into my daily routine for the coming year. In addition to these goals, I will be giving myself smaller monthly challenges to keep the motivation fresh. Tomorrow I'll be writing about my health-related challenge for January.
Throughout the year, and especially after Christmas, we tend to become loaded up with a good amount of extra stuff that we don't really need. Cute little trinkets. Cheap gadgets. Movies. Clothes. It’s easy to pack this stuff away in boxes in the closet to never be seen again, but that’s obviously not the best course of action. This year, Craigslist and eBay will be our friend. It takes no more than five or ten minutes to take a bunch of photos of the objects, write up a description, and post it online. Sometimes within one day you can make a sale. On the flip side, if you really need to buy something, check on Craigslist first. This December I was able to get a brand new iPod Nano for my mom for $100 instead of the Apple Store price of $150. Not only that, but the seller drove to my apartment within two hours of my first inquiry of the device. That’s two-hour shipping and $50 savings for just checking Craigslist for the sweet deal.
A couple years ago I started a Roth IRA and Life Insurance policy through Northwestern Mutual. Each month, money is automatically taken out of my bank account and placed into these accounts. This is a great setup, but I'm learning that there are better platforms with less fees that can generate higher yields every year. Just last month, I opened an account with Betterment to start investing my own money more directly (use that link to get 30 additional free days on top of the 30 day free trial). For now I'm just putting a small amount in every other week, but I want to increase this substantially throughout the year. Ideally, I would be able to put more into investments and savings than what I spend every month. The higher the ratio you can achieve with savings vs spendings, the sooner you can retire.
Lose Weight, Get Fit!
This same goal seems to come around every year, and every year it’s the same story. After the holiday pounds have made themselves heard, January 1st acts as a second-chance. “This year I'm really going to get in shape.” Whether or not this actually happens depends a lot on the explicit goals and habits formed. My plan is to do the 7-minute workout twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. This short workout consists of exercises that require no equipment other than a chair. It includes push ups, crunches, lunges, planks, jumping jacks, and so on. There are several apps you can download that walk you through each workout. I highly recommend CARROT Fit for the iPhone. It’s a 7-minute workout app that has a blunt and sassy sense of humor.
In addition to exercise, I will be adjusting my diet to align with the slow-carb diet. This focuses on proteins, veggies, and legumes as your primary source of fuel. The great thing about this plan, though, is you get one cheat day every week where you're supposed to eat poorly. This helps jumpstart your metabolism so you don't plateau from eating the exact same thing forever. If you want to read more about this diet plan, I highly highly recommend picking up a hard copy of The 4-Hour Body. In it, Timothy Ferris gives you detailed foods to eat and the reasons why.
The Minimal Minute
How meta! Yes, I want to keep writing posts for this blog regularly. At first, I was pumping out one lengthy post every day, but with friends and family and work and life, three to four posts per week will probably be a more reasonable goal for the long term. Until, of course, this blog takes off and lets me write full time. If you'd like to support this site, following the Facebook page for it is the best way to see when new posts are published.
Over this last year, I spent some time making digital paintings for a couple friends and family. The reception was so positive that it made me want to take it a step further and start getting larger-scale pieces printed on canvas. This will be an experimental side project that I'll work on here and there. If the pieces are well-received, I might even make an art page on this blog where readers could purchase canvas prints. All of the paintings would be made with a focus on minimalism.
This is a practice I'm still new at, but whenever I take the time to meditate, it has a profound impact on my mental state that day. Even just ten or twenty minutes can completely change my mood and help me process all of my stress sources. If you're new to meditation or find it too challenging to sit in one place without doing anything, I would recommend looking in to Headspace. It’s a great audio-focused guide that will take you through each individual meditation session. He tells you what to think about and where to focus your energy, while also leaving you in silence for some of it.
So those are my six habits for 2015. I'll be checking in later this year to give you guys an update on where I'm at with these. I'd love to hear what your resolutions are for the year! The more public you make your goals, the more accountability you feel toward them.