What's your leap this New Year!

Another New Year is upon us, which typically means we make the same old resolutions that we all make come January 1. While they are all important, perhaps by looking at them in a different way will make them more effective.

1) Losing weight. This is often a resolution that fails (I mean come on, Auntie Mary has just made those amazing chocolate cookies and it would be incredibly rude not to have at least one, or two...) because we set unrealistic goals. Dropping 20 pounds in two months by exercising each day for two hours generally only works for pro athletes who have people paid to keep them honest. Instead, set realistic goals of exercising 2-3 times a week or walking up stairs instead of taking elevators/lifts. You'll still see results and be more likely to keep to it.

2) Eating healthily. Some people think this means consuming only kale grown by an indie farmer in Malibu. Yes, go organic and stay away from GMOs (read your labels!), but if it's not readily available or too expensive, then aim t0 cut out as many preservatives, fake sugars, additives, and chemicals as possible. The fewer the ingredients, the better for you. Reduce eating meat to three days a week, too. It's cheaper and better for the environment.

3) Stopping smoking and/or giving up alcohol. The first is super important and the second is probably a good idea. But most people tackle these large tasks solo. Instead, get a friend or two to go in with you. Hold each other accountable and you'll have a better chance of sticking to this one. Also, you may find that doing #1 above gives you a natural high that can help curb the cravings.

4) Declutter. If you're living a western lifestyle, then you'll have a lot of 'things' in your life. STUFF. Stuff that you've collected over the years, stuff that you've associated with things and people, or from moments of your life. But sometimes, we need to take a step back and ask: Do I really need it all? Having had a serious move last year, I found it painful getting rid of stuff, but once it was gone, it was liberating! Start with one room or closet and chances are you will have your whole place done in a month or two.

5) Getting out of debt, saving money. Everyone always goes overboard when money is involved. It's little things that make a difference here so instead of saying that half your paycheck will go to savings or to pay off a credit card, thereby causing you stress and an unsustainable living situation, reduce the number of times you go out for dinners or lunches; cut back on those coffee trips to your fun local coffee shop; say no to a social event which might mean you end up spending a lot of cash. It's not as fun, but financial stress is the number one destroyer of relationships and many of the above resoltuions. Your true friends will understand and a year of prudence will go along way to keep your blood pressure down.

6) Travel to new places. I heard a friend recently say that she's always dreamed of going to New York, but has never had the chance. You get into a routine, your money goes on the bills, any spare change goes to the kids (something about being a mom makes you always want to give them everything and nothing for you.) Well, let this year be the year. Yes, it costs for the flight and the accommodation, but maybe instead of it being this dream of staying in a glamorous hotel you opt for a cheaper choice? It's the travel experience after all that matters. And if the plane trip is going to be too expensive for all of the family, either let the grandparents have their special time with the grandkids while off you go. Or go somewhere closer to home with the kids that will give you a completely different experience.

7) Spend more time with family. People live so far apart these days, especially in the US, and so you can feel very removed from those you love. One way around this is to combine this resolution with number 6 above and go see at least one group in one city during one holiday like Mother's Day or a birthday. It's less stressful than trying to do a massive family reunion or trying to squeeze in ten visits a year. And remember, FaceTime, Skype and What's App are all great ways to see your family instead of just talking to them. Looking into their eyes and seeing into their homes somehow makes the miles vanish. And it's free. And it's doable.

8) Do volunteer work. You don't have to join the Peace Core or plant 10,000 trees in a deforested part of Brazil (although that would be cool!) There are plenty of local organizations that would appreciate your help one day a month at a food bank or a charity marathon. And if that is still too much of an effort, then combine this with number 4 above and donate all that clutter to Oxfam, Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a myriad of other places that desperately need your second hand things. And you'll help out #5 above by getting a tax deduction for the donation. Now that we think about it, the natural high that comes from helping those in need will help solve #3, too!

9) Be less stressed. Well, sure, but that's a bit broad, isn't it? And trying to figure out what stresses you out in and of itself is stressful. Then you realize that stress is one of biggest risk factors for poor health and you can see the panic attacks starting to happen. That is the point of this blog. Keep things manageable. That is not to say occasionally going for it, but if failing on a resolution is going to make you spiral out of control, then go for smaller victories. Remember, enough small battle wins will tip the war in your favor.

10) Do something new! Think outside the box. Maybe it's a career change, learning a new language, returning to education, running a marathon, going to a different country or just doing one thing out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to do something different. Take a leap and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve. Who knows? Maybe exploring the unknown is the answer to resolving some of issues stemming from the first 9. Good luck out there and be amazing in 2017!

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