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I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution kinda gal, and I’m sure as heck not going to start now! I don’t believe that my drunken, ill advised and in no way thought through declarations at an end of year party can really change my life. So, no thanks.

New Years resolution

But. (There’s always a ‘but’!)

I know how easy it is to get stuck in old habits and lose motivation, especially towards the end of the year. I also know that the notion of the New Year can offer a sense of relief and a hope of something new and, possibly, something better.

Let’s be honest: whether you’ve had a fantastic year or a tough one, we’re all looking forward to what the New Year has to offer. I, personally, cannot wait for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and am equally excited by the promise of a new season of Game of Thrones (John Snow can’t be dead)!

New Years resolution

2016 is bound to be epic!

However there’s more to life than film and TV (or so my mum keeps telling me). The New Year is also a great opportunity to start fresh, make some small, but possibly life altering changes and even try something new!

So, as I am opposed the idea of New Year’s resolutions, here are 6 challenges that we can all take in 2016.

1. Make more time for you

This is supposed to be easy, right? For many of us, making personal time for things we enjoy (a hobby, sport, reading, meditating, getting a massage, staring into space) can be tough. With work and family getting in the way of some precious moments of quiet, time can really slip away.

New Years resolution

In 2016, make sure you set time aside just for you. Even if you can only find 20 minutes a day or 2 hours on a Sunday – do something YOU want to do! Believe me… things on your to-do list WILL wait for you.

2. Smile more

According Buffer, “Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

(Depends on what kind of chocolate we’re talking about… there’s little that beats Lindt, if you ask me…)

New Years resolution

Apparently, your brain actually keeps a ‘smile scorecard’ and the more you smile, the less stress you feel and the happier and healthier you will be.

The average person smiles around 20 times, whereas happy people do it 40-50 times. I have no idea how much I smile, but I’m sure I’m not doing it enough.

So here’s a challenge for all of us: SMILE MORE!

To get started you can try Buffer’s 3 step guide to a better smile.

3. Collaborate  

Collaboration can be a great thing. We live in a world where a sharing economy is booming – GoGet, Uber, Wikipedia and similar services encourage us to combine our resources and work together to make life simpler, easier and better.

New Years resolution

So why not ask for help or get together with friends or like-minded businesses to create something better, solve problems and innovate! The relationships and experiences you will walk away with at the end might just be life changing!

4. Relax

I’m not talking about running away to a tropical island to sip cocktails and lounge by the pool / at the beach all day.

Although, that sounds pretty damn appealing right about now… Mmmm cocktails and beach…

What I mean is relax in your every day. Chill, don’t sweat it. When stressful things happen, don’t let them get to you. Tackle them head on and don’t stew on them.

New Years resolution

Try mindfulness or meditation or both. Everyone’s different, so we all need to find our own tools that help us stay calm. I’m an epic stress-head and going to the gym and smashing it on the bike or X-trainer, followed by a little Yoga always calms my mind. See what works for you!

(Please note: I’m talking about every day little things that can pile up, like dishes in a sink, not major stressors. You should seek professional help/advice when things get to be too much.)

5. Try something new

I’ve always wanted to play the piano. I always had the feeling that I’d be good at it. Mainly because I have long fingers… So for me, it’s piano lessons (which, incidentally fits in with point 1 – doing something for me!). What is it for you? Bungy jumping? Deep sea diving? Cage fighting? Knitting? 

New Years resolution

6. Set goals and stick to them

Now this is important – without goals, we have nothing to aim for. When you set goals, make sure they are small enough to achieve and you have the time and resources to make them happen.

New Years resolution

They don’t have to be long-term; in fact, small short term goals are great for your sense of achievement! Think point 2 – smile more. “I will make an effort to smile more this week”. Easy to achieve, no major commitment.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach your goal within a set time – give yourself an extension and try again.

By no means are these New Year’s resolutions. They are merely small ways in which you can make 2016 a bigger and better year. So take the challenge.

Go on, I dare you!