As we approach the end of this year and the start of the next, ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ is a buzz phrase of the month. It’s the time of year for retrospection and self-evaluation, as people consider what they would like to change and improve about their lifestyle, habits or situation.
I have mixed views about resolutions. On the one hand, you can try to make positive changes or eradicate a bad habit any month of the year. On the other hand, January is a very depressing month, in the wake of Christmas, so having a project to focus on could help the gloomy days pass quicker. Just make sure you don’t choose unrealistic, impractical resolutions, or use them in a masochistic way to restrict, criticise and punish yourself. You are not broken and don’t need ‘fixing’. We are all a work-in-progress and are constantly changing and evolving.
It takes weeks to form a new habit (or say goodbye to an old one) yet many people give up at the first hurdle or within a matter of days. If you decide to introduce any positive changes to your life, make sure they are specific, practical and practised consistently! Don’t penalise yourself over lapses and slip-ups; you can start afresh tomorrow. Life’s a marathon, not a spirit, and mistakes happen along the way.
Ideas & Intentions for the New Year
- Try to increase your productivity. I have a major problem with procrastination; I keep a regularly updated ‘to-do list’, yet I tick off items so slowly. Strangely, this habit is only related to my personal life, as I’m very efficient with work-related tasks. I just don’t make the best use of my time – allowing myself to be distracted by meaningless drivel on the internet and repeatedly putting things off. I think the best solution would be getting out of bed as soon as I wake up, making a start on my day and trying not to look at my phone or social media accounts until I have completed my morning routine. When working from home, I should leave my phone in another room and really, really try not to open any miscellaneous websites which could affect my concentration.
- Start the day right with a great breakfast. I have a love-hate relationship with breakfast. It is a cruical meal for me (as I get seriously hangry!) but I still haven’t found the right breakfast for me. The requirements: quick, convenient, healthy, filling with minimal preparation and mess. Cornflakes and toast aren’t filling enough, muesli and bread rolls can be too stodgy, porridge takes too long without a microwave, eggs take too long on the morning when I want to be up and out the door in thirty minutes, and so on. Now I live in Germany, I’m tempted to try the stereotypical German / Scandinavian breakfast of sliced meat, cheese, hard-boiled eggs & raw, chopped vegetables. If anyone has any winning breakfast combinations, please let me know!
- Watch what interests and inspires you. I love Netflix but usually watch the fictional shows on there. I’ve seen a handful of really fascinating documentaries on there and would like to watch more of these. I’d also like to watch some Ted Talks by engaging, thought-provoking presenters.
- Focus more on learning languages. I’ve lived in Germany for almost a year, yet my German is still embarrassingly limited. My Italian progressed quicker and further during my time in Rome, but since leaving Italy, it’s fading fast. I want to spend more time on Duolingo and branch out to trying some other apps like Babbel and Quizlet. Who knows, maybe I’ll even start learning a new language in 2018?
- Publish blog posts more often. I really enjoy writing and sharing my posts with you all. It is a wonderful way for me to connect with people around the world, record memories and share interests and recommendations. I have dozens of ideas for future posts but the thoughts tend to stay too long in my head and aren’t written down quickly enough. Therefore it currently takes longer than I’d like to write, edit and publish posts. Hopefully next year I can pick up the pace!
- Learn something new. Besides languages, I have had an interest in massage and accupressure for the last year or so and would love to learn more about these subjects. It’d be great to do some more teacher training, both in person or online through webnairs, to keep developing professionally.
- Declutter your home. I used to be such a horder and am now trying to actively reduce the number of possessions I own and declutter my home. It is so easy to let things build up but trust me, it’s extremely satisfying – almost therapeutic – recycling, donating or throwing away items you no longer want or need. You’ll be amazed how much space is freed up and how much more relaxing your house when it’s less cluttered and crowded. Minimalism is a topic I’ve become very interested in over the past year and I will be sharing a more detailed post on it soon.
- More Skype calls with friends. I tend to use Whatsapp (messages and audio notes) to keep in touch with friends, along with Facebook Messenger. However I have had some really great Skype calls this year with friends and family. It is the next best thing to being in the room with them, and I find we say more, concentrate more and connect better chatting through Skype than through written notes. I would like to schedule more regular Skype dates, maybe every few weeks or months depending on our schedules.
- Visit friends overseas. This year I was lucky enough to stay with friends in Toronto and Rome. Not only do you save on accommodation costs, but you have a local who can provide excellent recommendations and tips to make the most of your trip (which I took full advantage of in Toronto!). Remember to return the favour and offer to host them of course! In 2018, I’m visiting a friend who lives in Paris and would love to visit some other friends around the globe. One of the perks of having an international friendship group!
- Read more. I absolutely love reading but have noticed recently that when I’m waiting for or using public transport, I automatically take out my phone, check new messages and idly scroll through Facebook and Instagram. As a freelancer, I must check my emails regularly for messages from my schools or students, but Facebook and Instagram can wait until I get home. I would like to reduce my phone time – to simply checking my inbox and Whatsapp messages – then use the rest of my travel time to read.
- Develop a bedtime routine. I often look at my phone until the very last minute and find myself waking up earlier than I need to. I’d like to stop looking at my phone and computer screens an hour before bed and try to go to sleep at the same time each night, to introduce more regularity. Some full body stretches and a short meditation routine would be helpful to reduce stress and quieten my mind before bed.
- Say ‘yes’more often. I’ve noticed a negative habit forming over the past year, where I sometimes decline invitations to meetups and events if the weather is poor or I’m feeling lazy. It is so important to take time to relax and recharge your batteries, and say ‘no’ to invitations without feeling guilt or pressure. However, I won’t be in Germany forever and want to maximise my time here. I don’t have colleagues to interact with on a daily basis and as an extrovert, I really enjoy talking to and being surrounded by people. Despite this, I have skipped some fun-sounding events because I wasn’t in the mood at the time or it was raining! Those of us living in Northern Germany really can’t let the weather be a deciding factor in our plans because the majority of the time it’s cold, windy, overcast…. or all three! I’d especially like to go to a wider variety of events in the new year; every month I receive invitations to a book club, board game afternoons, stand-up comedy shows, pub quizzes, language exchanges and many more. Time to take advantage of Hamburg’s social scene!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list. If you are making any resolutions, I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments box below.
Ciao for now,
The Curious Sparrow