It's that time of year again -- when the impending flip of the calendar brings the promise of achievable goals. Yet another 365 days to bring your A-game, and get down to everything you couldn't do in the previous 365.
While the goal-setting mindset is a great way to approach the New Year, our only hope is that everyone has moved on from "must lose 5 kilos" as the first (or only) resolution. For starters, there's no crash diet that will help you keep the weight off as definitively as regular exercise and a consistently healthy diet. Secondly, there's much heavier excess baggage we can rid ourselves of in 2016.
PRUNE YOUR COMMITMENTS
So it's your uncle's cousin's sister-in-law's wedding -- and you have an important business meeting at the other end of the city the very same day. Obviously, you will carry your wedding wear to work, use the office bathroom to change, show up at the venue just before the decorations are taken down and feel oh-so-good about yourself. But here's an idea for 2016: Don't do it.
We're not suggesting you skip the important moments of those close to you, but killing yourself to celebrate or meet someone who probably doesn't remember your name or face is easily avoidable. If you don't believe us, skip one such do and you'll know: Nobody cares.
CLEAN YOUR CLOSETS
We're willing to bet more than 50% of you reading this article have a closet that's 50% full of junk. So, get rid of the stuff you don't need. It will make the things you do need easier to find, and your old stuff might be put to better use by others.
Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo suggests you discard anything that doesn't bring you joy - including the purple sweater an ex-boyfriend gave you 14 years ago on Valentine's Day. (If you're giving away any toys, check our latest donation campaign to see how you can help!)
LIMIT YOUR PURCHASES
No matter where in the world or how old you are, a common New Year's resolution is acquiring something. The latest iPhone, an expensive watch, a bespoke piece of jewelry, a new car -- we've all got our eyes on that one thing we'd like to own. But what are we doing to actually make it happen? Assuming you don't win the lottery next year, we're guessing you have a fixed income and a fairly predictable spending pattern.
So, instead of pining for that coveted object, cut out your spending on the things that don't really bring you joy. (We're quite inspired by Marie Kondo, as you can see.) A lot of little things add up to big holes in your pocket, keeping you away from what you really want. Baby steps might get closer to the big goal, sooner than you think.
BREAK UP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is like that guy who made a better friend than a boyfriend. Too much of it has begun to significantly impact our lives -- and not in a good way. So, break up already. We all know we could use more media-less time, but this doesn't often make it to the New Year's resolution list -- until this year. Switch off for an hour every day: Don't check your email, look at your phone, or watch television. Instead, call up an old friend, play with your kids, take a walk, read a book, or just watch the sunset. It just might refresh you more than AIB's latest video.
Already at this black belt level of de-connectivity? Try this radical resolution: For one day a week, disconnect completely and remind yourself what life was like before the era of Facebook and the smartphone.
GIVE SELF-DOUBT THE BOOT
Yes, we know it's easier said than done. But isn't that the whole point of New Year's resolutions? Losing 5 kilos might seem like a piece of cake compared to mastering your fear of public speaking -- and that's exactly why you should address the latter. There are so many aspects of our personalities we're less than pleased with, and changing them is hard work. But that doesn't mean they're unfixable.
Start by trying one thing that terrifies you in the new year -- give a presentation, make the first move, travel on your own. As Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says, "Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished." Don't make that mistake. Pick an aspect of yourself you want to change and set your mind to doing it.
And if you still want to lose 5 kilos, pick one unhealthy thing (like sugary drinks) cut it out of your diet, and stick to it. Cutting out 85 things doesn't last beyond Valentine's Day.
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