By Christa Banister

Young woman at mountain lakeAfter all the holiday fanfare has drawn to a close and the calendar flips to January, it’s natural to start reflecting — dreaming even — about what the New Year might look like for you.

But what if your ambitions, your resolutions of sorts, weren’t the same tired and superficial aspirations peddled in television commercials? What if like poet Emily Dickinson you chose to “dwell in possibility” and aim a little higher? Here are seven ideas worth considering that address wellness far beyond what you look like on the eve of another year.

Visit a new city.

If the two-week European excursion on your wishlist doesn’t seem feasible, financially or otherwise, exploring somewhere new is still a worthy pursuit. Whether playing the tourist in a section of your own town that you rarely explore, road-tripping somewhere cool nearby for a weekend adventure or hopping on a cheap Southwest flight to a city you’ve never visited before, there’s immense value in immersing yourself in new surroundings and experiences.

Make self-care a priority.

Making time for regular therapy (which is good for everyone no matter what season of life you’re in) or taking a few minutes away from your desk to spend more time in nature (which not only makes you happier but gives a big ol’ boost to your immune system), taking time for yourself is never selfish.1,2 It makes you a happier, more productive person.

Read more.

While reading can feel like a drag when your professor selects the material for you, reading for pleasure is a decidedly choose-your-own adventure. Whether you want to know more about the world and how people think or immerse yourself in a realm you wouldn’t experience otherwise, reading is the ticket.3

Prioritize gratefulness.

In Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper’s character said it best: “The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday, that’s guaranteed.” And a quick glance at the headlines on your go-to news site will confirm that reality again and again. But there are a million reasons for practicing gratitude, something you can do by starting a journal dedicated to precisely that, deliberately acknowledging what you’re thankful for at the beginning or end of each day, writing a note to someone who has shown you kindness or bought you a gift or paying it forward at Starbucks by purchasing a beverage for the stranger behind you in line.

Step Away From the Computer

Make no mistake, there are plenty of good things about social media.4 But what if you invested a little less time in virtual interactions and made more time for living, breathing relationships? Ever visit a college campus and notice how everyone is staring at their phone and barely acknowledging the rest of mankind? Notice the people around you. Smile more. Make time for the people you care about.

Learn Something New

Do you wish you could knit a sweater or blanket like your grandmother could? Aspire to learn French or enough about geography and history to give a Jeopardy contestant a run for their money? Maybe you wish you could master calligraphy or channel your inner HGTV nerd as a DIY genius. Whatever it is, learning how to do something new is completely gratifying and worth your time, even if it winds up being a #PinterestFail.

Be Quiet

Maybe you’re someone who always has music playing no matter what you’re doing. Or you happen to talk way more than you listen. Perhaps you’re a person who has never explored the pleasure of your own company. Making room for a little quiet in your life is extremely beneficial and delivers a whopping dose of peace in the process — now who wouldn’t say yes to that?5


Sources:

1 Howes, Dr. Ryan. “Who Doesn’t Need Therapy?Psychology Today, July 1, 2014.

2 Fabrega, Marelisa. “29 New Year’s Resolution Ideas — Make This Your Best Year Ever.” Daring to Live Fully, no date given.

3 Pasricha, Neil. “8 Ways to Read (A Lot) More Books This Year.” Harvard Business Review, February 3, 2017.

4 Agrawal, AJ. “It’s Not All Bad: The Social Good of Social Media.” Forbes, March 18, 2016.

5 Steber, Carolyn. “10 Ways to Bring Peace & Quiet Into Your Everyday Life.” Bustle, January 13, 2016.