Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year's Non-Resolutions

Nicole Brown,  Marketing Intern

From weight loss to stress reduction to better money management, many people start each new year off with the same thing: a resolution. They resolve to improve something about themselves, sometimes in a major way. But rather than look at any change as a major overhaul, try breaking up every goal into manageable pieces and then creating a reasonable plan. Use any of the tips below, individually or in combination, to start your new year and new semester off on the right foot.

  • Use an agenda.
    • Find an agenda you can carry around with you, be it your phone, your iPad, or a good, old-fashioned paper one, and use it. Write down tests, assignment due dates, appointments, social engagements, meetings and anything you need to remember.
  • Make To-Do Lists
    • A daily or weekly listing of all you need to accomplish not only organizes your thoughts, but also gives you the satisfaction of crossing items off the list as you finish them. Try making separate lists for school, work, and miscellaneous, and always choose a short enough time period to include that you won’t get stressed by the number of items on the list.
  • Pick your method and stick to it
    • Do you prefer to hand-write notes or type them? If you’re going to be hand-writing all of your class (or work) notes, use a color-coded binder or folder and notebook system to keep things straight.
    • If you’re a computer person, make folders, and lots of them! Organize your documents by class, date, or subject, whatever makes sense to you. And keep a notebook and folder around for any loose papers, which you can then scan into your computer and save as a .pdf.
      • Try tools like Dropbox or Evernote, whose online natures allow you to synchronize notes and files between any computer, smartphone, or tablet.
  • Start with a clean slate
    • A cluttered home or office can be distracting and even stressful. Go through your closet and donate the clothes you never wear, sort through any stacks of paperwork, and generally spruce up. 
  • Breathe
    • When you feel yourself become stressed, pause, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. Then, reassess whatever was making you stressed as calmly as possible.
  • Yoga
    • The combination of stretching and breathing is a good way to relax as well as good for your body! Drop in on a class or try Yogatailor. It’s $8/month for customized yoga workouts whenever you want them.
  • Meditation
    • The power of our thoughts can be amazing. Take a few minutes every day to reflect, think on your life, and focus on a goal. Envision yourself reaching your goal and it might just become easier to get there.
  • For more stress relief tips and ideas, check out our relaxation story
  • Physical:
    • Make small changes
      • Replace one can of soda per day with a glass of water, and you can cut out roughly 50,000 calories per year. That’s a small change with a big impact.
      • Set your utensils down between each bite you take at meals. This forces you to eat more slowly, allowing your body to process and realize when it becomes full, helping you avoid overeating.
    • Set fitness goals
      • Set small goals. For example, start out doing ten push-ups every morning, then build when that becomes easy for you.
      • Find an exercise that you enjoy. Working out suddenly becomes a lot easier when it includes friends and dancing! Not sure where to start? Find something here.
  • Mental:
    • Tune up your brain
      • Make a free account with Lumosity. After a quick customization process, they’ll recommend brain training games and a training program, just for you. To unlock full access, you need a paid account, but the free one provides access to a decent number of games.
      • Play games with your friends! Popular free games like Words with Friends and Ruzzle make you think. Just download them in your smartphone’s app store and play away.
    • Stay positive
      • This goes hand in hand with meditation: your thoughts have a big impact on the way each day goes. Thinking positively helps you keep a positive attitude, which keeps you ready to tackle new challenges.
      • Surround yourself with positive people. As humans, we mirror those around us. So by surrounding yourself with positive people, you make it easier on yourself to keep a positive attitude.
  • Network
    • Every day is a chance to make new connections. Classmates, teachers, the people working job fair booths: they are all potential members of your network. The more people you connect with, the easier a job search becomes and the larger your support network becomes.
    • Join LinkedIn and actively participate. Connect with friends, family, classmates, and colleagues, virtually. You can even recommend people. It’s a simple way to find internships or jobs. Learn the ins and outs of LinkedIn by reading our LinkedIn story.
  • Find a mentor
    • As you face challenges at any point in your life, it’s important to remember that others have faced similar challenges. Finding a mentor is a great way to find inspiration, a springboard for ideas, and a glimpse into your possible future. Use these tips for finding the mentor or mentors that are right for you.
  • Reconnect with old friends
    • Going away to college, moving for a job, or any other big changes often result in leaving friends behind. Just because you aren’t physically there with these people, doesn’t mean you can’t reach out. Call or email an old friend and see how they’re doing. Still in the same area? Set up lunch to catch up. Our connections with people are so key to a fulfilled life. Don’t let those you care about slip away. 
  • Set a budget
    • It’s easy to overspend at the mall or while you’re out with your friends, but you’re more likely to stay money savvy if you set a budget in advance. Figure out how much money you have coming in, what your expenses are, and how much money you have left over. Decide how much you’ll save and how much you’ll spend.
    • Try bringing the amount you’ve budgeted to spend with you in cash when you go out. Once the cash is gone, you’re done spending.
  • Keep a close eye on your account
    • Write everything down. Keeping track of your spending serves a dual purpose: it shows you when and where you tend to spend the most and verifies that there are no unauthorized transactions.
    • Most banks have an online access portal, including a smart phone app. Use these for easy tracking! They also often come with spend analyzers to tell you where all your money goes. Notice you’re spending way too much money eating out at restaurants? Start choosing more budget friendly options and see how it changes your analysis.
  • Open a savings account
    • It’s always great to save money, but especially while you’re in college, your saved money might become emergency spending money. Open a high yield online savings account. That way, your money is making a decent interest rate but is still easily accessible. Try one of these accounts.
  • For more budget tips, read our budget story.
The important thing to remember is that everybody is different—you have to figure out what will work for you in order to be successful.

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