(BPT) - Another year is upon us, leaving plenty of time to reflect on what went
well (and not so well) in 2014. Before you start outlining your self-improvement
plan for 2015, consider this: only 8 percent of people who make new year’s
resolutions actually stick to them. Control the urge to recycle annual resolutions
that you know you’ll never keep. Instead, identify new opportunities to keep
your body fresh and your mind focused. Here are four simple steps to a happier,
* Schedule a few “mental health days” – We
spend a lot of time at the office. And if you’re clocking more than 10 hours
a day, it’s likely too much. Scientists often link overtime to everything
from depression to cardiovascular issues. It’s no secret that we all count
down the days until that next holiday vacation or summer road trip. But why wait?
Don’t put off precious time away from the daily grind. Instead, avoid burnout
by planning a few long weekends every year that help you recharge and refocus. Whether
you’re sleeping in and catching up on your DVR or connecting with old college
roommates, a little R&R will do wonders for your morale.
* Improve your indoor air quality – Nine in 10 homeowners
realize poor indoor air quality can contribute to certain health issues, yet only
one-quarter are worried about the air quality in their homes, according to a national
survey from Broan-NuTone and Kelton. With the
majority of homeowners spending 90 percent of their time indoors, it’s important
to identify telltale signs of unhealthy air before they trigger health issues. If
you’re noticing foggy bathroom mirrors after showering or lingering food aromas
after preparing meals, chances are your home isn’t properly ventilated. Protect
your home and your family by updating your range hood or installing a new bath fan.
* Clean out your closets – If you’re like most,
you’re probably hanging on to one too many items that you’ve outgrown
or no longer use. Free up hangers and closet space by taking inventory of any items
you haven’t worn in several months. Holding on to jeans in the hopes you’ll
fit into them? Donate them to someone who can wear them now and treat yourself to
a new pair. Stockpiling old bridesmaid dresses? Have them altered into the ideal
cocktail dress. Hoarding fashion jewelry and accessories that are no longer in style?
Create a dress-up box for nieces, young cousins or students. Not only will you make
more space for things you do need, de-cluttering creates feelings of happiness and
* Try something new – If “learn to cook” and “lose
10 pounds” have been on your to-do list for years, it’s probably time
to mix things up a bit. Be more specific when outlining goals. For example, instead
of focusing on weight loss, why not focus on new classes to try out? From cardio
kickboxing to spin class to ZUMBA and yoga, there are endless opportunities to get
your heart rate (and your spirits) up. Check out your local gym and pledge to try
something new every quarter until something sticks. As for cooking, turn it into
a date night with your spouse by enrolling in a cooking class together. Or, buy
a cookbook and take turns selecting new meals to prepare.
Keep in mind that you won’t do yourself any favors by shrugging off goals
or not planning in advance. Set up reminders and calendar invites to help keep you
on track. Better yet, outline at least one shared resolution and invite friends
or family members to join in.