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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do a screening for prostate and colorectal cancer.