By Kay Whatley
We are about to reach 2018. It’s approaching second by second.
What do you want to be different in the new year? Okay, your answer is probably “A lot of things!” Let me re-phrase: What can you do to make 2018 better for you and yours?
You could go for one of the standard resolutions, including: losing weight, manage time better, finding a new job, or lowering stress.
I’d like to offer alternatives to the standard resolutions. Maybe for resolutions this year, instead of trying for the “new year, new slate” approach — which might wear you out after the first month — I’m including some suggested changes that are easier to stick with, and make a difference to the world and possibly your sense of self.
These are suggestions only. Ignore them, adjust them to fit you, or … whatever. It’s your new year!
Buy from a farmers market at least once-a-month, or once-a-week, or whatever you feel you can make work. Don’t set yourself up for failure; set yourself up to add this one purchasing habit that can make you and your family healthier, reduce chemicals in your lives, improve the local economy, and possibly play a part in saving the planet (before it’s too late).
Find a local butcher shop, small grocery, farm or farm market where you can buy meat (if you eat meat); resolve to stop buying meat at “big box” stores. That’s two tasks in one, and you may be surprised at how much better meat may taste when it’s closer to the farm and not frozen, trucked, treated, delivered, shelved — whatever else the big places do to meat. Also, some of the small grocery markets around the area (Eastern NC, Inner Coastal Plains) offer meats at a price that is actually less expensive per pound.
Make a list of not-so-healthy and more-healthy food options, with a plan for adding / removing food choices throughout the new year. You pick the foods you’ll stop buying, and which healthy foods you will buy more often. Make a list with things like (just examples) such as “no more lunch meat” or “serve broccoli once a month” or whatever you can stick with. Then, add new things to each list (buy, don’t buy) for each month. By the end of the year you may find that you’ve changed your diet for the better. Plus, changing in stages may make it easier for your family to adjust. You may also start keeping a list of company’s whose practices you don’t think are morally or ethically appropriate, and add them to a “do not buy” list to ensure you spend your money with those you choose.
Resolve to talk face-to-face with at least one neighbor once a month. Schedules get full, and sometimes it’s tough to find time to get together. If you feel that you rarely have time to see those who live nearby, then plan to pull over when you see them outside and have a conversation for a few minutes. It’s far better than waiting until you can all gather for a barbecue, which could be months down the road.
Schedule time outdoors. Get your feet off of concrete if you can, check out the plants and animals around you, or stop and smell the roses. Connecting with nature can be good for a human soul. This planet was given freely, and is teeming with life alongside humans. Check it out!
Resolve to avoid the self-checkout lanes in stores. These save corporations money by letting them hire fewer people as labor to check out customers. Save jobs by refusing to use these lanes. You don’t get a discount for doing the work, and you’re only helping a corporation profit through creating fewer jobs.
Choose to buy and use fewer plastics, or only biodegradable plastics made from corn or hemp. Plastic straws, bags, and other objects are not going to go away; they’ll float in the ocean (or gag marine life and sea birds) for generations to come. Anything you can do to reduce the amount you throw away, and omit plastics, the better the world can be for our great-great-great-grandchildren.
Buy seed in January and plan to grow a garden, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Growing a garden has many benefits, including providing good, fresh vegetables nearby. This can save you money by “shopping” in the garden. Think of it not only as your personal “store” close to your kitchen, but potentially as a “food pantry” for others who might not be able to afford fresh vegetables. The more people who choose to garden, the more food that can be available to share with neighbors and friends.
Make a list of who and what you treasure in your life, and schedule time doing what you love, with those you love.
Make a list of changes you’d like to see in the world, and plan to do something, somehow, throughout the year to save what you see as important. It should be what has meaning to you. Whether it’s helping feed people in your area, helping homeless people, working with an animal shelter to help pets, promoting wind/solar power, petitioning the gov for change, improving services in your neighborhood, or sharing educational information on social media about a cause you value. Do whatever you feel matters. Making a difference of any size can improve your outlook, and even inspire those around you.
Schedule time when you don’t use any electronics. Pick a day that works for you, your family, and your work. Set the length of time you think you can go without email, twitter, and the rest of it. You don’t have to turn off your phone — emergency phone calls, right? But you can set a timer, change the ring, or lower the volume so that you are reminded with each ring of your desire to disconnect. Answer if you feel you should. Not answering a less-than-urgent call (or work call) is okay; that’s why there’s voice mail.
Resolve to read or write at least once a week. You can pick a specific day or leave the day open… as long as you don’t let the week go by without reading or writing. Choose what you like — books, magazines, online stories, or newspapers — and choose the length of time you can spend. Enjoy stories or make up your own. This could also count as your time-without-electronics mentioned above, if you so choose.
Learn something that you’ve always wanted to learn. If you want to speak another language, take a cooking class, attend a home improvement workshop, or be able to make macaroni and cheese from scratch, schedule it and make it happen. Even if you can’t afford a class, there are online videos to learn many different skills. Get started. Everything that we learn helps us to understand more of the world around us.
Do something different, unless you’re completely happy and think all is right with the world. If you think that you could be happier, or the world could be a better place, then plan to do / go / be different in a way that can make 2018 a better year for you [and yours]. If you want a better job, plan to send out resumes. If you’d like to move, start looking for options. If you’re in a bad situation or feel stuck, then resolve to ask for help. You have the power to be the master of your own destiny. It may be thousands of small steps, but remember that you can get where you want to be.
Strive for a wonderful New Year!