I didn’t waste time making New Year’s resolutions for 2021. We shouldn’t feel compelled to undertake major life changes just because we’re flipping a page on the calendar. You should make your health and happiness a priority every day. But since the new year prompts some introspection, I have a suggestion. First and foremost, invest in yourself in 2021!
#1. Extract yourself from technology.
We DO love our screens, don’t we? Whether texting, checking up on social media, or binge-watching that latest must-see series, Americans are addicted to digital crack. While you’re laughing at TikTok videos or spending countless hours in front of a TV, think of what the experience gives you. Brief entertainment? An escape from reality? A momentary distraction?
In truth, you are quite literally killing time. Do you really have so much time that you can give away hours and hours to something that delivers nothing of value in return? Sure, it’s entertaining, but what’s the long-term return on investment from all this watching?
My challenge to you is that you separate yourself from your cell phone, laptop, tablet, and TV for specified times each day. Don’t count dinner, because no one should bring technology to the table. It’s just rude.
What can you do instead of staring at a screen?
First, don’t whine about it.
Secondly, just about anything! Read a book or magazine—and I mean a physical one you hold in your hand, not an online journal or ebook.
Go for a walk. Play with your dog, Clean out a closet. Cook something different. Rearrange a room. Write a card to someone who comes to mind—a long-lost friend, teacher, relative, former classmate, neighbor, teammate…whomever. Then go to the post office and snail-mail it. The only rule of this designated tech-free time is that you cannot use any electronic device.
#2. Expand your knowledge.
When the pandemic hit, a friend of mine used the time at home to learn. She enrolled in online classes on Udemy: graphic design, digital marketing, acrylic painting, yoga, beginner’s guitar, crochet, making pizza at home, and Russian (she already speaks several other languages). After a full day of work and then dinner, she took at least one hour in the evening to expand her knowledge, using technology in a useful and productive way. So, while some people vegged out, she expanded her portfolio of marketable skills and took on social media marketing clients, which added to her income.
You also have the benefit of podcasts and audiobooks that enable you to keep learning while driving, doing housework, and just relaxing. When you challenge your intellect at any age, you create opportunities to do more with your life. Discover something new that sparks your passion. Change your career. Meet new people who can make a difference in your life.
It seems strange to suggest that giving your time to help others is an investment in yourself, but it’s perhaps one of the most important ways to improve your life. Giving back will always reward you with appreciation, something that seems to be in short supply in this hectic world. You will see lasting value from the simple act of caring. You can volunteer at a shelter of any kind (homeless, victims of domestic violence, animals), a church, hospital, school, library, senior center, or non-profit organization. All of these organizations appreciate the donation of your time.
#4. Get a full check-up.
You probably pay more attention to the maintenance on your car than yourself. Schedule thorough medical (including blood work), dental, and vision check-ups. Get your preventive care done. All of this effort will give you a snapshot of your current state of health. You might uncover issues that could be prevented, like diabetes, or treated sooner rather than later, like some forms of cancer. As a cancer survivor, I can attest to the importance of early detection.
#5. Be nicer.
2020 put us to the test—a test of patience, resilience, and strength. Every day brought more bad news. We could have sunk down from the weight of it all, but what I’ve seen instead is that we are coming out of it with more kindness. Strangers seem friendlier—saying “hello” or “thank you”, holding a door, handing an anti-bacterial wipe—and more patient. So, while we had every reason to be grumpy in 2020, the opposite happened. We’ve realized we’re all sharing the burden, and being better people makes it easier to get through the day.
When people can be kind to one another, we all benefit.
I encourage you to look for ways every day to invest in yourself. Be mindful of your choices and their impact. Remember that doing nothing gives you nothing in return.