Be a better you in 2018 — this is how!

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PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images
PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

As we look  forward to  the New Year, quite a few  of us want to make up for  what we didn’t achieve in  the old year, while others  want to reinvent themselves  or simply make a  few changes in their daily  lives.

Be open-minded and willing to let  new habits become your new routine.  It might be hard at first, but persevere  and don’t give up, even if the going gets  tough.

Being consistent will help you get  used to your new lifestyle. Here are some  tips for areas you might consider tackling: 

MIND AND SPIRIT 

Timeout

You can improve the quality  of your life with simple decisions such as  stressing less and making more time for  things that really matter.  Forget about the past and focus on the  present. Take a few minutes in the morning  or evening to find one or two things  you’re grateful for, and keep a journal. 

It could be as simple as watching less  TV. Some people enjoy meditation, yoga,  or time to think or listen to music without  any distractions. 

Studies or career

For some, self-improvement  could be taking a cooking or  cake decoration course. For others, it  might be getting your matric or doing a  business  course, diploma or degree. 

“Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try or  to keep trying until you reach your goal,”  advises Bheki Zungu, a Joburg-based life  coach.

“When searching for a job, you  may have to go to several interviews  before you find your match. When getting  a qualification, some circumstances may  change and force you to make tough  choices. 

“But, just because you are faced with  tough obstacles doesn’t mean you should  stop trying.” 

Quality time with loved ones

You may want to spend more quality time  with family or friends. But considering  most of us are busy, you’ll probably need  to plan to make it happen. 

Partner or spouse. Take time out at  the start or end of the day to check-in and  catch up with each other. If you have  more time, aim to spend one hour daily  together, without electronic distractions.  Plan a weekly date night or weekends  away to keep the flame burning. 

Children

Make it a habit to spend at  least 10 minutes a day to read or play with  your kids.

It’s an important bonding activity  that your children will quickly start  to look forward to. With older children,  aim to spend at least one hour a week  doing an activity of their choice. 

Whether it’s playing a game together or  going out for an ice cream or burger, have  weekly or monthly family time and take  turns where either the children or adults  choose the activity  thing  you’ve always wanted to do but  never did.

Visit a new restaurant or try  different  types of food; take dance lessons  or go bungee jumping; do a road trip  together – visit places you’ve never been  to before, whether locally or in another  province. 

Time manangement

The first step to overcoming procrastination  and improving time management  is to understand why you have the  problems you do. For some, it could be  fear of failure, worry over how others will  view your efforts or simply a lack of organisation.

A life coach can help you set goals  and make time plans, and teach you how  to be more organised and able to “work  smarter not harder”.  When you turn off technology and  commit  yourself to focus on your highvalue  tasks early in your day, you’ll be  more inclined  to stay focused and resist  the temptation to get distracted. 

Weight and fitness

You might want to lose weight or just be  able to climb the stairs without struggling  to breathe. The best way to be consistent  is to make small changes, says Claude Maphosa,  a Randburg-based fitness coach. 

He suggests the following:  cupboards or fridge and ask yourself:  “What can I do to change it?” Whatever  you decide, don’t be too extreme or you’ll  start craving what you can’t have. 

Drink lots of water

Set a goal that’s specific, realistic and  measurable.  Cut down on your portion sizes.  Start off by walking 15-20 minutes three  times a week. Set another goal when you  reach your target. 

Find an exercise programme to suit you.  Join a walking or fitness group in your  area or commit to exercising  on your own at home.

Find  your nearest park and run or  walk in your town or city with  family and friends. 

MONEY MATTERS 

Why not start the New Year off  with a new mindset and a rule  of thumb: don’t spend money you don’t  have? Here are tips on how to manage  your money and become debt-free: 

Budget

Prioritise your monthly liabilities  by noting all your income and expenses. 

You’ll be able to work out how much  you are left with after all the fixed instalments  are paid.  Pay off your debt. Make a list of all your  debt.

Identify those with the smallest balances  and highest interest rates and pay  them first. Try not to incur more debt. 

However, there is such a thing as “good”  debt, for assets like a house or car. 

Save

Decide on how much you can  afford to put away monthly to cover unexpected  financial emergencies or things  you would love to do.  If you find it hard to stay motivated or  disciplined on your own, join a stokvel or  social saving scheme.  with yourself to pay your accounts on  time.

Make an effort to understand your  credit score to track your credit health.  Invest in your future. Set aside money  for your child’s education, your retirement  or investments like unit trusts or shares. 

Consider seeking expert help from a financial  consultant to help you with this. 

HEALTH 

Why not start the year by doing your  annual health check-ups?

Don’t wait  to see the doctor only when you don’t  feel well or try to persevere  through pain and discomfort.  Decide to cut down on or  stop smoking or drinking  alcohol, it will improve your  health almost instantly. 

Here are some health  checks to tick off:  For men and women. Hypertension  (high blood pressure) is a silent killer as it  can be present without symptoms. Some  people have suffered strokes without  knowing  they had it, so check that your  blood pressure isn’t too high or low. 

Also check your cholesterol and blood  sugar levels; do an HIV test and determine  your body mass index; have your eyes  tested every two years; and visit your dentist  every six months. 

For women

Do at least one Pap smear  to screen for cervical cancer, and if you  are over 40, do a mammogram.

Check  your breasts on your own at least once a  month for any changes.

Remember to  take advantage  of the free screenings offered during health awareness weeks. 

For men

Do a screening for prostate  and colorectal cancer.                   

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