As another year comes to an end it is once again time to take stock of the past 365 days. By now, resolutions we may have signed up for at the beginning of the year have either been realized, modified or forgotten, and it’s time to make a new round of resolutions for next year. Here are a few ideas for worthwhile resolutions to get you started.
Review and consolidate services. Take a close look at your monthly expenses and consider how much value you are getting from them. At our house we noticed a steady increase in what we pay for cable TV service. Upon review, my wife and I agreed we did not need 300 channels to choose from, all of the premium channels or the land line that was part of the bundle. We trimmed down the bundle and are saving a few dollars. I have also paid between $30 and $50 per month for a gym membership since I graduated from college. I decided I could do what I need with a stationary bike and a few weights in the garage. I cancelled the membership and we are saving a few dollars more there. We also dropped our wine club membership after we found ourselves paying a hefty price for some wines that we did not really like. Now we just buy what we like. If you look closely you may uncover little adjustments to reduce what you pay for services without negatively impacting your lifestyle. Maybe you don’t need three disks at a time from Netflix and can get by with two or one. Saving money is always a good way to start the year.
Make yourself smarter. People stay sharp on the job because they are challenged and forced to quickly react to situations. But once removed from the mix, where do we find the stimulation to keep us on top of our game? Those of us reaching retirement age know that if you do not use your brain you can begin to lose your edge. But you can counteract that by continuing to learn new things. You could decide to enroll in a local community college course that interests you. The grades don’t matter when you are taking a class for fun. If you prefer the comfort of your home you can look at online courses. You can even work your mind via apps you download to your phone and use them to sneak in a little learning while waiting in line. For some people an old fashioned book club is the perfect venue to meet and share thoughts about popular literary works. My wife helps stay sharp conquering increasingly intricate jigsaw puzzles. There are lots of ways you can crank your brain up a notch.
Explore something entirely new. Recently I have watched a handful of movies about cooking and the life of a chef. I have always enjoyed eating good food and am now contemplating the cooking side as well. This year I plan to don a chef hat and try my hand at some creative cooking. And after viewing a wonderful course on French impressionist painters, I am starting to have an interest in giving painting a try, something I never would have imagined myself doing even one year ago. Some of us have passions that we were unable to pursue due to the requirements of a job and raising our family. Now in retirement we have the opportunity to revisit and explore overlooked interests.
Try to make an impact on someone’s life. Many of us remember someone who had a positive impact on our lives. Perhaps there was a special teacher who inspired our extra effort, a coach who taught us the importance of working together or a particular author who changed the way we look at the world. Each of us has the ability to influence the lives of those around us. It does not necessarily require superhuman effort. Sometimes a little thing said or done at the right time is all it takes to make a difference. You might prefer to volunteer your time for a worthwhile charity or nonprofit organization. Or you could commit to making an extra effort at home to help family members. Then you will get to look back at the end of 2015 at the wonderful difference you made in someone’s life.
Written for my weekly blog on US News & World