7 Ways To Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet
Each New Year brings a fresh start, a chance to improve on the year before and of course, make all-important resolutions. The problem is, the resolutions we make are often lofty, unrealistic goals that represent radical changes we’d like to see in ourselves. Most of the time, we’re simply not ready to pull a 180-degree turn in our life, and the resolutions that begin with great intentions flame out. We won’t tell you to transform yourself in 2014. Instead, we have seven suggestions to make your year exciting, productive, fulfilling, fun, and hopefully, your best year yet.
Learn a new skill.
It’s probably been years, and for some, decades since you’ve stepped foot in a classroom, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. Whether you’d like to learn something fun like how to play a musical instrument or how to knit, or a skill-set to forward your professional career, there are some excellent inexpensive sources on the Internet to teach you everything you need to know. Lynda.com is an online tutorial service dedicated to comprehensive learning for technology related fields. For a reasonable yearly membership you can literally take hundreds of courses on web design, blogging, HTML and CSS, video editing, photography, game design, business basics and audio engineering. Industry leaders teach all the courses and the site helps you organize and track your progress. It’s an incredible tool. YouTube may be fun for watching cat videos and vines, but it’s also an untapped resource for learning just about any musical instrument. Tutorial videos take you from your first notes to your first concert. We’ve also found YouTube a great resource for cooking instruction!
Take one personal day.
We mean it. And don’t make it a weekend either. Take one day off of work this year and do whatever you want. Sleep all day. Read the book that’s been sitting on your shelf. Go get a massage. Go for a hike. Have lunch in the park. Go to the restaurant you’ve been meaning to try all year. Watch reruns of your favorite show. Whatever it may be, fill your day serving nobody but yourself. At the end of the year you’ll look back and truly appreciate the 24 hours you devoted to yourself.
Take part in random acts of kindness.
Every day we have the opportunity to do a little bit more for the people around us. It’s easy to dismiss others. Yes, we just told you to take one day and only think about yourself, but that leaves 364 days where you could make a difference for your community. Volunteer at a retirement home or an animal shelter. Bring in your neighbor’s garbage cans when they get left in the street. Buy a sandwich for someone who’s hungry. Give more compliments. Pass fewer judgments. Smile more. Projecting kindness is something we should always strive for, but in 2014, put it into action.
Get in touch with an old friend.
All of us have a friend who, for whatever circumstance, we no longer see or speak to as often as we’d like. In 2014, reach out to that person. If they live in town, ask them to lunch or invite them over for dinner. If they live in another state, give them a call out-of-the-blue and take some time to catch up. Sometimes a little action is all it takes to rekindle a dormant friendship. Stay away from Facebook for this one. If you reach out, make a phone call, let your friend hear your voice. You may even have a few laughs, which are much more fulfilling than an “LOL”.
Eat healthier, more frequently.
Having a salad once a month doesn’t count, but we’re also not calling for a raw foods diet, here. We love food. We love unhealthy food. But, health is extremely important and all it takes is a little discipline and simple substitutions to make a difference in your waistline and overall health. Instead of mayonnaise in recipes, use Greek yogurt. Instead of getting French fries at restaurants, opt for a side salad with a low calorie dressing instead. Make it a point to not drink your calories, which means more water, less sugary sodas. When cooking at home, bake more and fry less. Bring your lunch to work more often. It will help you save money and control your portions.
Get away for a weekend.
North Central Florida is a phenomenal place to live, but every now and then it’s nice to spend a weekend away from home. Your trip doesn’t have to break the bank either. Take a drive and spend a couple nights in Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina for a taste of the Old South. Venture north of Atlanta and you can unwind in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with a stay in the quaint old mining town of Dahlonega. Continue farther north to the town of Blue Ridge, which has a great small town feel, small shops, zip lines, horseback riding, hiking and the fresh mountain air. If you’d like to stay in state, St. Augustine, Cedar Key, St. Petersburg and Pensacola are all great beach towns within reach.
Support local art.
Being a smaller town, Gainesville doesn’t always attract the big-name musical acts and artists that the other major cities in Florida do. However, a consistent influx of students and a younger population keeps our local art scene vibrant, and in 2014 make it a point to get involved. Go a see a band downtown at Loosey’s Pub, Tall Paul’s or 101 Downtown. Stop by Cympify for open mic night every Thursday from 7-9pm for music, poetry or comedy, and be sure to check frequently for updates about live performances. See one of the various performance art shows or poetry readings at the Civic Media Center or check out the rotating art displays at The Bull Café & Bar. We only require that it’s local and original. (Cover bands don’t count) The Scene Magazine, which runs every Thursday in the Gainesville Sun, is a great resource for what’s happening around town.