New Year, New Gift-List

Thursday 17th December, 2020

Another year, another New Year's resolution. Another year, another New Year's resolution. Another year, another New Year's resolution. Another year...

It seems that every January starts the same: new goals, raised expectations, and enough motivation to finish a PAX wardrobe from IKEA even after you lost the instruction manual. And with similar continuity, Januaries always end in disappointment. Some years, the resolution becomes a habit, but more often than not they slip away, fading into another forgotten dream. They fade into another what-if. What if I had read a book every week? Maybe I'd be more cultured. What if I had spent less money? Maybe I could afford a new purse. What if I had stuck to that keto diet? Maybe I'd finally look like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. But alas...

And something tells me this year will be even worse. How do you create  a resolution after what we've all been through? How can you purchase your Planet Fitness membership you won't renew in February if the gyms are still closed?

Well maybe it's time to rethink our New Year's resolutions. COVID has been the doorway to so many minute realizations. For instance, stay-at-home orders made office meetings virtual, showing us we could always have always worked from home. So what could COVID show us about our New Year resolutions, and what do we need to succeed in a (hopefully) better 2021? In other words...what should be on your New Year's resolution gift-list!

A Planner

What 2020 taught me, as it did so many others, was the need for good habits. With no boss to literally look over your shoulder, self-motivation and self-planning became imperative. And outside of the workplace, many people lost the day to day activities that gave their days structure: going to the gym, meeting friends for a drink or a walk, going to frisbee practice, etc.

Managing such uncertainty became an independent experience, and everyone had to rework their days accordingly. Some set their alarms earlier, some set them later, and others hucked their clocks out the window.

But when it comes to self-improvement (the basis of any good resolution), you need a schedule, and one with goals, deadlines, and daily routines. And this is true regardless of your resolution. Whether you're trying to lose weight, save money, cook one new meal each week, creating a schedule is a great way to keep the ball rolling. Set micro goals within the macro ones, that way you'll always feel like you're progressing, even if the ultimate goal is still eleven and a half months away.

A planner as such is a necessary first item for your New Year gift-list. It's the starting block for a successful year.

Home Gym Supplies

Most likely, the people who have previously set a goal to lose weight, already planned, purchased, used, and forgotten their home gym. New Year's Day will mirror day one of quarantine, when they promised themselves that by the end of this ordeal, they'd be fitter than they'd ever been before.

So if the above person re-attempts this resolution, they already have what they need. But maybe you or someone you know took the opposite path: descending into an Oreo-induced hell full of self-loathing after quarantine got the best of them. But now it's time to rise like a phoenix from those sugary ashes and remake thyself!

Whatever your reasoning, a home gym has become more accessible than ever. There's a large number of simple and affordable solutions that can fit in any office, bedroom, or garage. All of these will fit even easier into your New Year's gift-list.

As a first step, resistance bands are unmatched. Resistance bands are an extremely versatile, lightweight (e.g. low shipping cost), and effective choice to start your home gym. For under forty dollars, you can easily train any body part, and either build muscle or burn fat. And there's an endless supply of Youtube videos if you need inspiration or directions on how to use them.

Adjustable dumbbells are another great place to start. Pricier than resistance bands (largely due to shipping costs) but taking up an equally small space, dumbbells will serve the advanced fitness connoisseur quite well.

And for those wanting to train like Alex Honnold, pull-up bars are perfect. Another cheap solution, the pull-up bar easily fits into any doorway, and serves as means of training your arms, core, and back all at once. Alex Honnold, the death defying free-soloist-rock climbing without a harness-has one installed in the door to his van. So there are few excuses to not have one yourself.

And a final idea: running shoes. You know what they're for-I don't have to explain that. You just need to find the motivation to use them (buying a planner and setting goals helps with that-I say this just in case you skipped the section above).

Updating Your Kitchen

Want to eat healthier? Maybe a new blender will help with that. Or maybe a subscription to a meal-delivery service if you want to skip the hassle. There are so many possibilities on this one but ultimately they all come down to changing your kitchen: what's in the pantry and fridge, and what's around them. So it's time to replace the shopping list with a gift-list, and start thinking about what needs to go, and what should be added.

A blender could incentivize your new juice diet. A George-Foreman countertop grill could motivate you to really, really dive into that Atkins diet you tried a few years ago. And even a simple fruit bowl could promote better shopping and snacking habits, meaning you pick a banana over a pudding cup.

Replacing dull knives with sharp ones, or simply purchasing a honing steel, could inspire your inner chef. The schink-schink-schink of dull knives on steel makes me want to do nothing but cook. Even though my form is terrible and the knives remain just as dull, if not moreso.

Consider every tool in your kitchen. Think about what is used often, what is used rarely, and what simply gets in the way. Is there anything in your kitchen that is keeping you from living a healthier lifestyle? If so, nix it and replace it with something that will prime you for success.

Quitting ___________

With all the pressures of life today, it may be difficult to separate yourself from your vices, especially ones that make you feel at home. But, as always, there's no time like the present, and COVID shouldn't be an excuse.

I recommend approaching the process of quitting with a replacement in mind. A friend of mine who smoked used snowboarding to distract himself. The money he saved by forgoing cigarettes meant more gas-money to get him to the mountain. And it eventually meant a new pair of gloves too.

The key, these days of course, is to find an activity that requires your full attention. With most people suffering from isolation, the activity needs to be all encompassing, as there are no friends to make a bad day of skiing more enjoyable.

So whatever it is you're quitting, think of what activities could distract you from it, and what you need to get started. Need a peaceful hobby? Try knitting yourself a new lifestyle, and pick up some needles and yarn. Or maybe consider a new bike to send you out into nature. Add what you need to you gift-list, and start crafting a new you!

All in all...

Resolutions are manageable this year. More difficult? Certainly. Worthless? Absolutely not. There are ways to be flexible-ways of changing your frame of reference.

Consider giving yourself monthly rewards for reaching your goals. Create a gift-list, in fact, and every month you meet your goal, purchase something new off that list. Treat yourself, but don't break your resolution. If you go a month eating only homemade, healthy dinners, don't go and gorge yourself on a greasy pizza. Buy a new pizza stone instead, and craft your own healthy alternative.

Make 2021 as great as it can be. I was once told that greatness is what you do with the hand you're dealt. And trust me when I say that this past year dealt a lot of people a lot of bad hands. My question to you is, what are you going to do about it? 

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