Sure, everyone says they're ready for a total reset every Jan. 1, but there are indeed many personal habits that you can easily improve — often for free. These range from the basics such as exercising more and eating better to finding easier ways to save money and expanding your vocabulary. When combined, they just might add up to a "new-and-improved" you for 2019.
PLAN YOUR DAY
If you feel your life is a spin on one giant hamster wheel, there is hope. Set aside time every morning — even five minutes — to simply close your eyes, breathe deep and focus on what the day will (and won't) bring. Savor the sense of calm.
People may joke about those who are constantly jotting down what they need to do — but a list will help keep you on track, whether it's the morning's errands, the shopping list or even books you want to read.
Speaking of books, decide that this year you will finally read those books you've always wanted to. It might be a classic. It might be a bestseller. It might be a favorite you've wanted to revisit. Reading, by nature, slows you down and is an enriching habit.
SAVE YOUR COINS
Empty your wallet or pocket every evening, putting the coins in a jar or other container. You won't miss the change, which adds up pretty quickly. Soon enough, you'll have quite a few "found" dollars for a guilt-free splurge.
EXPAND YOUR VOCABULARY
No one likes a show-off, but expanding your mind — and your vocabulary — is an investment in yourself. You can buy an inexpensive "word a day" calendar but why not just open up a dictionary to a random page every day and see what awaits?
Sometimes recycling seems like such a chore that we're tempted to skip it. Maybe we really don't know how. Find out what your community's guidelines are and decide to follow them. Mother Earth will thank you.
REUSE THOSE BAGS
In some towns, it's a rule. In all towns, it's a mindful practice. Cut down on waste and bring your own bags, from the grocery store to the boutique. Once you make it a habit, you'll feel good about helping the environment.
COMMIT TO A CAUSE
If you've done a random walk-a-thon to raise funds or participated in a community clean-up, you know how rewarding it feels to give back. Select a cause or organization you're passionate about and make donating your time, money, or expertise an ongoing part of your life.
CLEAN UP AS YOU GO
It happens before your realize it. You spend an entire morning picking up around the house — and by nightfall, all evidence is gone. It takes effort but stop leaving things until later. Move the newspaper from the table when you're done. Fold the laundry when the dryer is done. Dump the trash after dinner. A neater house is worth the small steps.
You knew this was coming … and be honest, you can fit exercise into your life, whether it's a morning walk or an evening swim at the local Y. Exercise not only improves your health but also helps relieve stress. What's not to love?
If you're coming off an indulgent season — and that includes most of us — you can still turn things around. Think about an eating plan that will work best for you, whether it's something very regimented or simply being a bit more aware. Avoid second helpings. Add more vegetables. This is basic stuff, folks.
TAKE A POSITIVE APPROACH
We all can be our own worst enemy. If you make a mistake, think about what you could've done differently and move on. Stop dwelling on the negative.
Everyone's can have a bad day, but your bad day doesn't have to ruin someone else's. Try to simply be nicer, to the grocery checkout person to the post-office clerk. One small step…
How good do you feel when someone says your outfit is so nice — or you made a great play at the company's softball game? Try to spread good will by complimenting those around you. You will find it makes you feel pretty good, too.
FOLLOW THE NEWS
It seems like you have to be tuned in 24-7 to keep up on every last nuance of the news of the day, but that can be a daunting — and draining — effort. Decide to allot time to keep up on the basics, but try not to become overwhelmed. Focus on what you need — and want — to know.
For most of us, the bulk of every day is spent inside, whether it's in the car driving to work, in the office, or back at home. Sometimes a simple walk outside can change your perspective. Make it a point to enjoy nature more.
Instead of feeling you have 10 things to do, decide to concentrate on just one or two for a set amount of time. A messy garage, a box filled with old snapshots, a spice cabinet filled with outdated products … tackle your tasks one at a time and you just might end up with a few actually done.
Are your nails raggedy or your hair looking a bit shaggy? Decide to keep up on your appearance. It's not shallow but an investment in your professional appearance that builds your self-esteem.
BUILD A SPIRITUAL FOCUS
It's hard to go it alone. You don't necessarily have to be religious but in tough times, it's good to have something solid to believe in. Meditate, attend services, read self-help books — anything that helps nurture your soul.
LIVE YOUR LIFE
Time flies, as the saying goes. And often, we realize we've done something but not really paid attention. Decide to really be a part of your life. Smell that dinner cooking. Watch TV without paying bills at the same time. Be aware.
DO RESEARCH, FOR FUN
If you've always had an interest in something — oceanography, architecture, or film history — delve into the topic. Hit the library. Explore the internet. Learning things for your own enjoyment offers personal rewards.
LEARN A SKILL
Being open to learning something new, from a craft class to a new language, doesn't just expand your mind but also yield some nice rewards — think a new handcrafted scarf to the satisfaction of navigating a foreign menu in the country's native tongue.
Decide to brush up on your job skills and apply them daily. The next time the boss is looking to promote someone, your name just might be at the top of the list.
NIX THE GOSSIP
Whether it's in the office or the gym, it's tempting to join in the gossip. It might be fun in the moment — but when it's negative, you can easily get swept up in drama that you don't need. Break free.
Yes, some people take clipping coupons to the extreme (and there are the TV shows to prove it) — but taking a few moments to clip coupons as you peruse the Sunday papers or cruise the coupon websites will not only save you money but give you a little feel-good boost next time you shop.
During trying times, it's important to know you have a refuge. Whether it's with your family, close friends or community group, make sure you do all you can to keep the bonds strong.
Quick — when was the last time you blew a bubble, threw a Frisbee or ran under a sprinkler? Add more fun to your life.
Being an adult is a serious matter. Belly laughs are not an everyday occurrence, so when you find yourself truly laughing out loud, savor the moment.
BE MORE MINDFUL
If your days are all about finding lost keys, misplaced reading glasses, or the like, you need to slow it down and be more mindful. Pay attention to the task at hand. Be in the moment.
It's a frustrating thing to be talking to someone and they're checking their phone, looking across the room or acting otherwise distracted. Decide to be the one person who actually listens to the person they are talking to — and who knows, you may start to get that same respect.
As the new year proceeds, keep checking in on the goals you've set for 2019. There's nothing wrong with a re-start of something you've let slide. As long as you don't give up completely — no matter what habit you're cultivating — it just may stick after all.