Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published December 19th 2015
Turn Your New Year Resolutions into Reality
Top 10 New Year Resolutions and How to Keep Them New Year is more than a marker in time. It is a promise of something better, of new opportunities. It is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again. So it is little wonder New Year is chosen as the ideal time to resolve to do something more, something less, something better, or something for the first time.
Resolutions though, are but a first step in a much longer and more sustained process. It is that ongoing effort that takes its toll on many. This year let's make our first resolution to plan for success. Here's my top ten list of resolutions people make and suggestions on how to keep them.
Become More Prosperous, Reduce Debt, Save Money
Getting the Basics: Whether you want to save for something special or are simply trying to make ends meet, most people dream of becoming more prosperous. But how do you do this? For years I have been recommending a book titled, 'The Richest Man in Babylon' by George Samuel Clason. It was published in 1926 but still holds true today. The book uses stories set in ancient Babylon to teach the principles of good money management. It is entertaining and easy to understand.
Free Money Help and Advice: The Victorian Government via its Money Help program provides free financial advice to people who are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent, who are grappling with job loss or reduced working hours. Contact the Helpline on 1800 007 007 or visit the Money Help website for more information and some useful money management tools including budget planners.
Earn More: Improved job opportunities and the resultant increase in pay are obvious steps to becoming more prosperous. There are a number of online job search sites including Seek, CareerOne, and the Australian Government Jobactive. Both Seek and CareerOne offer tips for resumes and job seeking.
Improved Health, Weight Loss and Exercise
Professional Advise: Maintaining healthy weight levels and taking regular exercise are building blocks to good health. Before launching into one of the many weight loss programs available or pursuing an exercise regime, I recommend a visit to the family doctor. Your doctor will be able to make suggestions for weight loss and advice on exercise types and levels as part of a holistic better health program.
Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle: The Victorian Government has provided useful guidelines and information on their VicHealth Be Healthy webpage.
Setting Moderate and Achievable Goals: You may wish to join a gym and challenge yourself but it is the difficult challenges that chip away at the best of resolutions. Moderate exercise worked into daily life is sustainable and easy. Small things like parking further from the shop, taking a short walk in your lunch break, walking the dog, or visiting a park, or playing with the children will make a difference over a period of time. Find more tips in Jo Hartley's article Ten Easy Ways to Incorporate Exercise into your Daily Routine.
Apps for Monitoring Targets: The current Fitbit craze recognises that even a small, sustained effort plays a part in a health and fitness plan. It's not my cup of tea but for those who embrace the Internet of Things, Fitbit or its other brand equivalents make it easy to track targets. There are also apps available to assist with food planning, weight loss and exercise, such as MyFitnessPal. A quick internet search will reveal many more.
Walking and Heart Health: Victoria Walks has mapped a number of park walks for its Green Walks in the Park Program. The Heart Foundation have an Australia wide Find a Walking Group Near You search facility on their Walk Yourself Happy and Healthy website along with tips and advice for starting a walking regime or forming a walking group.
Tips and Hints: Having an uncluttered and orderly life can ease the way through day to day activities. A calendar or family schedule is a good place to start. Avoid double ups and leave sufficient time between commitments. Lists are a useful tool in keeping track of tasks. Involve the whole family in keeping the house tidy; they all live there. Don't buy or keep what you don't need. I could keep listing tips but if it was that easy you'd probably have done it by now. If you'd like a list if tips Google "getting organised" and take your pick.
Get Professional Help: If you don't know where to start get someone else to do it for you. Maintaining order that already exists is easier than creating order in the first place. Professional organisations such as The Lifestylers Group or Get Organised can be hired to declutter and organise your home or office.
The Airtasker Phenomenon: Reasonably priced ad hoc assistance with all manner of tasks can be sought through Airtasker, an online service which matches your task with people prepared and willing to do it. You might want house cleaning, gardening, resume writing, furniture removal, ironing, or shopping. You might want the task done once or regularly.
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Internet Tips and Tricks: It sounds obvious, doesn't it, enjoy life to the fullest, but sometimes day to day life bogs us down in the detail. Google "how to enjoy life" and there will be a long list of websites offering all manner of advice. Some of it will be enlightening but it's you that will have to take the action to make it happen.
Self Help Books: Visit the Self Help section in your favourite book shop (online or off) and you may be surprised at the vast array of books on offer. Which will you choose? It is not unheard of for people to claim a book changed their life, it may change yours too but it's not for everybody.
Life and Wellness Coaches: A Life or Wellness Coach can help you identify what you want from life and teach you the skills you need to work towards that. They typically address such things as self-confidence, esteem, communication, relationships, work-life balance, career guidance, wellness, stress management, and goal setting. There are likely to be professionals such as Total Balance and Life Coaching Melbourne, in your area. You might find help on LinkedIn. Be sure to check their credentials before hiring; Life Coaching is an unregulated industry.
Learn Something New
Broadening your Horizons: You're never too old to learn and you're hankering to expand your horizons don't be deterred. Forge ahead! What is it you would like to learn; something intellectual, a handicraft, a sport, art, music, language? Will you learn for fun, for career advancement or change, or to meet like-minded people?
Open Universities Australia: Melbourne boasts a number of good universities but if you don't have the time for traditional learning, Open Universities Australia offers a range of on-line studies including bridging courses, undergraduate, postgraduate, non-award and vocational courses.
Community Centre: Contact your local community centre or council for a list of classes or groups.
Music: Your local paper may be a good first stop for music teachers. Would you like to learn piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin or even the didgeridoo?
Quitline: Quit smoking and you will improve your health and your finances. The first and best resource for the would-be quitter is Quit. The website offers commentary, advice and resources in four broad categories: Reasons to Quit, Preparing to Quit, Staying Quit and Managing Setbacks. You can telephone Quitline on 13 78 48. In keeping with the times Quit has a facebook page where quitters can exchange tips, struggles and successes.
Cancer Council of Victoria: Around one in five cancer deaths in Australia can be attributed to smoking. The Cancer Council of Victoria offers information of the effects of smoking and is a strong supporter of Quit.
The Heart Foundation: Smoking has also been linked to heart disease. The Heart Foundation offers tips and advice here.
Medical Practitioners: Your doctor or pharmacist will be glad to help you quit, if fact, they are likely to be positively elated.
Fall in Love
Expand Your Circle of Friends: Who doesn't dream of romance, the chance to fall in love, to find that one person to share the rest of your life with? But where to start? No-one will argue that meeting people is a pre-requisite to falling in love so it stands to reason that meeting more people will increase your chances. You might find romance at work or at a party. But if that isn't happening for you consider expanding your circle of friends. Join a social club, sports club or interest group and meet like-minded people.
Internet Dating Sites: Dating agencies and their modern day internet equivalents have sparked many a blossoming romance. There are many to choose from with the best known being RSVP and eHarmony.
Speed Dating: If you've ever started a conversation with someone new and run out of things to say a couple of sentences in then speed dating may appeal to you. Speed dating gathers a number of people at a venue. People are paired up and each couple has a limited amount of time to talk before moving on to the next potential partner. It provides an opportunity to meet a large number of new people and to quickly determine if you have anything in common. There are many agencies organising speed dating such as Melbourne Speed Dating and CitySwoon.
Spend More Time with Family
Plan Some Time: Family, they are everything to us, yet sometimes life becomes so busy we don't spend near the time we would like with them. How many of us have resolved over New Years past to spend more time with family only to find nothing changes. The key to success is planning. Plan time together, get everyone to commit to it and write it on the calendar. Sounds boring I know, but our families are worth it. You'll find some useful tips and tricks in Leo Babauto's blog post How to Make More Free Time for Your Spouse or Family.
Dine Together: The family dinner, simple and traditional, yet so often forgotten is a key time to come together. Set a time, set the table, turn off the TV, put the iPhones face down and while you sit at the table eating your meal tell each other about your day, share your highs and lows, and plan family outings. Lindsay Seaman discusses the importance of the family dinner and how to achieve it in her article Why Eating Family Meals Together is Still Important Today.
A Picnic or BBQ Away from Home: Gather the family together, pack some sandwiches or a picnic lunch and head for your local park, the beach, a lake or the bush. Take a football or a cricket set and eat and play together. Perhaps you could make this a regular thing, a once a month get together. You'll find some great parks and picnic spots, on Weekend Notes.
Do Something for the Community
Volunteering, the Great Aussie Pastime: Many of us would like to do something for the community but are held back because we don't know how or feel we don't have time. Australians do volunteering very well; statistics taken in 2010 put the number of Aussies involved at 6.1 million. There are opportunities for as little or as much time as you would like to give. Find out more on the Volunteering Australia website.
Meals on Wheels delivery - Photo in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Council Volunteer Registers: Local Councils are frequently looking for local volunteers across a variety of interests. Get involved with a local sporting club, help with meals on wheels, become a friend to the local parks and gardens, or help organise community events. The choices will surprise you. Check your Council's website for something like this from the City of Casey.
Advertised Volunteer Jobs: The jobs website Seek has a section devoted to volunteer jobs where thousands of Australian opportunities are listed and can be searched by location.
Plan Your Trip: Who doesn't dream of travel, of the wonder of seeing new things and experiencing new places? Your travel aspirations may be limited by time and budget but a little careful planning and you can fit your travel to your circumstances. Decide where you want to go, check the pricing, start a savings plan and earmark some time. Perhaps you want to travel overseas, spend a week on the Gold Coast or take on the Great Aussie Road Trip. Turn your dream into reality.
Travel Agencies: Good advice, brochures and pricing are readily available at your local travel agent. Staff will be happy to talk through your choices, local or international, and can give you tips about the best holiday spots. Flight Centre, and HelloWorld are amongst the best known.
Outback Road Trip: The Great Aussie Road Trip is a dream many fulfil in their retirement years but it is not just for the grey nomads, home schooling and School of the Air make it easier for families to take time out. My husband and I did the trip this year, it's awesome, it's worth it and in my opinion it's the only way to really see this vast country of ours. Useful websites for planning are ExplorOz, Grey Nomads, Outback Now and Travel Outback Australia.
Day Trips and Weekend Escapes from Melbourne: Travel doesn't have to be expensive and you don't need a lot of time. Here in Victoria we are spoilt for choice when it comes to day trips and weekend getaways from Melbourne. Ballarat and Bendigo are steeped in history from our gold rush days, Phillip Island has the fairy penguins and seals, the Bass Coast has some of the most beautiful coastline imaginable, Bright has splendid autumn colours, Lakes Entrance is a water lover's paradise, and Warrnambool has whale watching. Find more options on Visit Victoria or search Weekend Notes for day trips and weekend escapes.