Now that many of you already know what they will do on New Year’s Eve, I have decided to go a little off-topic by giving you some inspiration for your good intentions for 2020. How many times, towards the end of December, did you find yourself drawing up a list of goals for the new year while talking with friends, relatives, or just between you and you? How many of these goals did you actually put into practice? If the answer to the first question is “many times” and the answer to the second is “few goals”, read on.
Today I will suggest 16 good intentions for the new year. Obviously you won’t have to put all 16 of them into practice. Add at most 3. One of the main reasons why most people fail to meet their goals is that there are too many achievements. Do not be surprised – but above all do not criticize – if you have difficulty doing everything you had in mind. If instead, you concentrate on a maximum of 3 good intentions you will have more time to work on it, without the stress sending you off the road.
1. USE LESS TECHNOLOGY
By technology, I don’t mean the electric oven, the vacuum cleaner, the digital clock or similar contraptions. I mean all those objects or habits that take away valuable time that you could instead dedicate to yourself or your loved ones. Some examples are smartphones, computers, television, and … social media. Obviously you will not have to completely eliminate them from your life unless this is what you want. But you can learn to use them less. Ask yourself for example:
- do you have to check the Facebook wall 30 times a day, only to find that your friends have published another funny video about dogs?
- Is it essential to control the phone while eating, without paying attention to what you chew or to the people around you?
- Is it necessary to reply to emails and messages as soon as they arrive, or can some of them wait a few hours?
Sometimes it is important to say enough, take off all these gadgets, take a friend under your arm and go for a nice walk in the open air. When you return home, you will feel happier.
2. LEARN NOT TO GIVE IMPORTANCE TO THE OTHER THOUGHT
Learning not to care, is often one of the secret weapons of happy and long-lived people. “Fregarsene” does not mean facing life superficially. It means giving importance to things and people that really interest you and not giving weight to what does not contribute to your happiness. Sit at a table and take a pen and paper. Make a good list of everything you do and that doesn’t make you happy. Here are some examples:
- make Christmas presents to distant relatives or colleagues;
- let the opinion of people you don’t care about the influence your choices;
- participate in events or birthday parties of people who do not particularly interest you;
- to behave in an extremely correct manner with people who ultimately do not deserve it;
- going out with couples with children when you are single and you don’t even like children;
- read books and newspapers just so that others consider you a cultured person.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate from your life all those things that make you unhappy or you don’t care. The trick is to find the right balance. You will know better than I what can be eliminated from your life without “replacing your face” or persecuting guilt. Once you’ve done a little cleaning on your agenda you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the time and money you’ve saved and that you can finally dedicate to yourself and what really matters to you!
3. ELIMINATE WHAT YOU DON’T NEED
This point is complementary to the previous one. It is about eliminating all those objects from your life
- you don’t need them anymore;
- you don’t like them anymore;
- they don’t make you happier;
- you forgot that they existed.
Start with the linen drawer, with holes in socks and underpants that you have not worn for years but still occupy space. How many socks/underwear do you wear regularly? The important thing is that, as you answer this question, be as honest as possible with yourself. Keep what you really need and eliminate everything else. Then go from the linen drawer to the other wardrobe drawers, from your bedroom bookshelf to the living room bookcase, from the kitchen to the dreaded GARAGE.
This operation, if done properly, will take you several days. Once finished, however, you will feel satisfied as never before and it will seem that you have recovered that mental clarity that you thought had disappeared over the years. Go! Go! Go! Throw it all away! And if you don’t feel like throwing away items or clothes that are still in good condition, give them to someone who needs them the most. Or sell them on eBay.
4. SLEEP MORE
How many times, during a day when you should have been productive and 100% focused, did you happen to think: “if only I had gone to bed an hour earlier I wouldn’t be so tired!”. An hour, or even just half an hour of extra sleep, can change the whole day for the better. If you are one of those who like to stay on the phone or computer until the last second before turning off the light, know that the light of the screen causes your brain to think that it is still daylight when in reality it is not. In this way, it will take you much longer to fall asleep. The ideal would, therefore, be to turn off phones and computers an hour before going to bed. Make yourself a nice herbal tea and read a few pages of that book that has been on your bedside table for months.
5. MEET NEW PEOPLE
If sometimes you want to go out you will perhaps be because unconsciously – or perhaps even consciously – you do not want to see the usual faces, as there are friends, and to see the usual places. Sometimes we need to get to know new people and to explore places where we have never gone in to recover motivation and to gain a different perspective on life. So don’t be shy, talk to people you wouldn’t normally approach. Do things that you are not used to in places you don’t usually go to (don’t think badly). Ask questions, be curious to meet people who have a lifestyle different from yours. You will learn new things and, if you like, you will have found new friends.
6. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Thanks to specialized websites, apps, platforms that allow you to talk at a distance with people from other countries, videos on YouTube, podcasts, and many other tools, learning a foreign language is an achievable goal if you have the will and discipline. Learning a new language has many advantages, including:
- travel in the country where the language you are learning is spoken without having the anxiety that people do not understand what you are saying or do not understand what people are saying to you;
- if you love reading, you can read your favorite books in the original language. You can do the same with movies or TV series;
- you can communicate with people from other cultures and learn new things from them.
7. BRING NEXT A PROJECT STARTED YEAR BEFORE
Who said that the good intentions for the new year must necessarily be based on brand new goals? Carrying on a project started the previous year that you care about, or with which you have already achieved some good results, can give as much satisfaction. Continuing a project already set up is less demanding than starting one completely from scratch. The important thing is to set clear goals to move to a higher level. For example:
- switch from level B1 of a foreign language to level C1;
- to knit clothes if you have learned to work on knitting the year before;
- participate in running races after you have trained properly the year before;
- increase your website traffic.
8. GIVE FREE VIEW TO YOUR CREATIVE SIDE
If you think you are not creative people, you are wrong. In each of us lies a good dose of creativity, the problem is that we do not realize it because we do not give it enough space. Set yourself an hour a week to dedicate yourself to those activities that you may have abandoned since you were children. Here are some examples of creative activities:
- draw and make collages;
- to sing;
- play an instrument;
- to dance;
- devote to DIY.
All these activities can easily be carried out in your home, in a corner of the house that you can use only for this purpose (eg the study, the closet, the wine cellar, the garage). If when you think of drawing, or of any other creative activity, you hear a little voice inside you telling you: “But what are you doing, you are not good at drawing!”, Do not pay attention to it and put on the same work.
The purpose of these activities will not be to produce works of art, to become professional dancers or the like. It will be to bring your mind back to the present moment, putting aside all those thoughts related to the past and the future that normally give us no respite. After a creative session, you will feel lighter and more satisfied. Seeing is believing.
9. STOP PROCRASTINATING
On how to stop procrastinating many of those books have been written (including this one, which I recommend), which would not make sense to talk about them in detail here. I, therefore, give you only two suggestions in this regard:
- Watch the 2-minute rule: this rule says that if a certain activity takes less than (or up to) two minutes, do it NOW;
- Book in advance: it is a matter of dedicating a couple of hours at the beginning of the year to book everything you want – or have to – do for a long time. For example that medical examination, that journey that would make you so happy, that pilates course that would do your back so much, etcetera. Book the same day: medical checks, trips, tickets for concerts, courses and so on. It doesn’t matter if these appointments will take place later in the year. The very thought that you will do what you wanted or should do later will make you feel better. Also, when it comes to travel, booking early will also save you money.
10. WALK 10,000 STEPS A DAY
Many times the programs to keep fit that is formulated at the beginning of the year are unrealistic. “I will go 3 days a week to the gym”, “I will go running before going to work”, “I will do gymnastics every day at home”, “I will go”, “I will do”, “I will enroll”, and so on. It is true that the 10,000 steps that I recommend you do should be done every day, but it is also true that they represent a realistic goal, which you sometimes reach without even realizing it. To take your steps into account, you can use a step counter or a downloadable app on your phone, such as “Pacer”.
You do not see these 10,000 steps solely as a way to lose weight. See them as an opportunity to carve out some space for yourself, to get some fresh air, to stretch your legs – especially if you do a job that requires you to sit very much – or to walk the dog. Often the best ideas come when our brain is paused, so to speak. Who knows, after a good walk you won’t arrive at your destination with the idea of the business of the century!
11. READ MORE
Read more. Not to play the part of intellectuals when you’re around other people. Do it for yourself, to gain a different perspective on life. Read everything: novels, essays, comics, business books, textbooks, children’s books, books in their original language, newspapers, blogs and, why not, even dictionaries and old dusty encyclopedias. You will be surprised by the number of new things you will learn and how your mind will open up on topics that you may not even have considered before then.
If, on the other hand, you like to read and want to keep track of all the books that ended during the year, you can use Goodreads. It is a platform on which you can read book plots and reviews, recommend books to friends, fellow writers that interest you, and even set a “reading challenge”, ie the number of books you want to read during the year. Once the number is set, Goodreads will remind you of how many books are missing to reach your goal.
12. CONTACT OLD FRIENDS
Pick up paper and pen and write a list of all those old friends you haven’t heard in 6 months or more. What will they ever be done? Where will they ever be right now? And how will they feel? The only way to find out is … by making you feel. You can do it in a lot of different ways: a simple phone call, a message, an email, a postcard, or, why not, a letter like old times. In my opinion, a handwritten ticket, postcard or letter that is, has more value than a hasty message on WhatsApp in which you ask only “how is it going?”. Friendships, real ones, need to be treated and grown over time. Don’t let the new year take you away.
13. DO SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT NEVER DONE
Make a list of those things you always wanted to do and never had the courage – or the time – to do. Pick one and get active to put it into practice. For example, if you have been thinking for a long time that once in your life you would like to do parachuting, the advice I give you is to involve friends who participate in this experience with you and to book a launch today. Don’t think too much about it. The chances that you will die crashing to the ground are almost nil. Indeed, you will touch the ground full of enthusiasm and proud of yourself for having realized one of your dreams. Parachuting is an extreme example. Needless to say, you don’t have to jump off a plane to make one of your dreams come true.
14. STOP CRITICIZING YOURSELF
Stop criticizing yourself continually for things you have done that you could have done differently, or for things you could have done and not done. Making mistakes is human and is the only way to understand how to deal with similar situations in the future. Some things happen outside our control, so often criticizing oneself is not only not productive, but makes no sense. If you have ever asked questions like:
- Why couldn’t I stay with my boyfriend instead of leaving him?
- Why did I act that way?
- Why didn’t I get a job promotion despite being busy?
… think that if you have acted in a certain way it will have been because at that moment that will have been for you the most correct way to behave. Or because at that moment, perhaps unconsciously, you were not ready to take that step forward, such as receiving a promotion. The truth because you will never know it. All you have to do is accept the facts as they are, respect yourselves for who you are, and go on your way trying not to make the same mistakes.
15. DO NOT TAKE ALL TOO SERIOUSLY
Think of the useless waste of energy that you waste every time you get angry for something that, after all, doesn’t really matter. Then think about how you could use these energies to do something more constructive, such as trying to find a solution to the problem with the person in front of you, or setting aside the problem entirely because, after all, a problem it is not real. Whenever you feel the blood rushing to your brain, ask yourself:
- Does what just happened to affect both things and people dear to me in a permanent and negative way?
- does it damage my health?
- does it damage my profession?
- my freedom?
- my values?
If the answer to these questions is no, it is probably not worth taking this question too seriously.
16. COMPLAIN LESS
In my opinion, complaints can cause two types of reactions:
- Additional complaints from the people around you, who feel obliged to “support you” morally;
- A departure from those around you. Think about it: do you feel like standing next to someone who is constantly complaining when you’re in a good mood? Unless you are masochists, I imagine the answer is NO.
Once I played a game with some of my colleagues. After realizing that we were constantly complaining about small squabbles at work, bad weather, and many other minor things, we decided it was time to cut it: for a whole week, we would no longer complain about anything! Anyone who got away would have been slapped by one of us (no joke). The first two days were difficult and we were taken for slaps. Among laughter and flushed cheeks, after a week we understood one thing: not complaining had made us more playful and in a good mood. Now I invite you to do the same. With or without slaps, the important thing is that you try to cut the complaints!