As we head into the New Year, it’s the perfect time to take stock and ask ourselves some searching questions. A time of renewal, it’s when many of us vow to improve our lives in some way, whether that be moving up the career ladder or finally taking the plunge and changing professions altogether; trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle and perhaps addressing small niggles that we have been ignoring; getting a grip of the clutter in our homes; or just vowing to achieve a better work-life balance and actually have some fun. Over the coming pages, we’ll offer some advice to help you achieve your New Year goals.
WORK IT OUT
108,560. That’s the number of hours the average person spends at work over a lifetime! And that’s a conservative estimate based on 40 hours per week. When you really think about it, that’s a huge chunk of our lives. It’s no surprise then that work, career, profession – however you want to phrase it – is one of the most important aspects of our lives. For some, work is simply a means to survival. But, for many of us, it’s so much more than that. It’s a matter of pride and, in some cases, even defines how we see ourselves and who we are.
So, what can you do if you feel you’re missing opportunities in the workplace? Perhaps being overlooked for promotion or, worse, just feeling overworked and unappreciated.
If you’re happy with your current employer but feel you could be more fulfilled or are ready for the next step on the career ladder, there are some simple steps you can take.
Be visible – find out if your company has a consultation or suggestion process that allows employees to share ideas. Contributing to such a process will demonstrate your engagement and willingness to participate in improvement,
Update your skills – keep abreast of the latest developments in your field, look into the latest technology or techniques. Find out if getting further training and qualifications would help your future prospects and, if yes, perhaps discuss the options for support with your employer. This will not only, potentially, assist in your advancement, it should also benefit the company and will show your employer that you are keen to progress.
Get involved – if there is an aspect of your job that you do particularly well, volunteer to help train others. This will potentially add to your own visibility and value while, again, benefitting your employer.
Be professional – if you’re not already a member of the official body that represents your profession, sign up. These organisation often have extensive libraries setting out the latest developments. They can also offer invaluable training and networking opportunities.
If you feel it’s time for a change, the New Year is the ideal opportunity to reassess your professional life. If you’re not fulfilled, dread going to work or just have a desire for change, Dr Clare Beckett McInroy, of Beckett McInroy Consultancy, an award-winning systemic organisational, executive leadership and board coach, has some advice.
She told us: “You are considering a change of career. What steps should you take? Firstly, consider taking psychometrics for personality and ability profiling, along with career coaching with a qualified and experienced professional.
“Secondly, research careers that are identified in the profiling tools to ascertain skills, knowledge, behaviours and values that are aligned to your strengths and preferences. Consider also cost-benefits of the career change systemically, for example, career prospects, impact of finances and your family, how the particular field is placed geographically and so forth.
“Thirdly, update not only your CV/resume and bio, but also all your online networking tools including LinkedIn.
“Your Career Coach can support you on this, as well as university or course essays, letters and job applications, plus practice interviews.”
CHUCK OUT THE CHINTZ
Obviously, we don’t mean that you should literally chuck out anything floral but, once again, New Year is the perfect time to take stock and get rid of the unnecessary ‘stuff’ that clutters up our homes and lives.
According to everydayhealth.com: “Tidying up can help you de-stress, gain a sense of control and improve your state of mind in numerous ways.”
The website also stated that living in a cluttered space is associated with self-reports of reduced productivity and more chronic procrastination, according to a study published in September 2017 in Current Psychology.
So, it’s clearly time to take action.
Check your wardrobe, use the reverse hanger tip – turn your hangers one way and when you wear something and put it back, turn the hanger the other way. Those that have not been turned after six months are not getting used and it’s time to say goodbye (even our most beloved clothes will go out of date and hanging onto things that we have no hope of ever fitting again, is just masochistic and soul destroying). Maybe take the plunge and sell your gently used clothing online, use the money you make to buy yourself something new, it might be just the added kick you need to get you started and the thrill of making money from nothing can be really quite addictive.
Go through your shoe cupboard. Check any pairs that need new heels and soles and get them repaired. As with clothing, if you are hanging onto designer heels in the hope they will miraculously become comfortable, it’s time to stop kidding yourself – short of taking a tip out of the late Queen Elizabeth’s book and employing someone to wear them in for you – it’s not going to happen. New Year is the perfect time to admit defeat on this front and consign shoes that cause you agony to the charity bag or, once again, sell them online and replace them with something that you can actually enjoy wearing. Ladies, a tip, if you can no longer manage the sky scraper heels but don’t feel like heading on a night out in your Birkenstocks (and why not?) check out professional dance shoes. They look fab and the heels are much more forgiving.
OK, how many mugs does one person need? Or for that matter glasses, tea towels etc? Here it’s time to adopt the tiny home mindset – one-in-one-out. Every time you buy something, you have to force yourself to get rid of something. Do you really need that new designer coffee maker or even those tea towels with the cute kittens on them? What are you willing to give up to make space in return?
Do you buy in bulk? And we don’t just mean the ‘can’t be missed’ food offers in the hypermarket (though there is surely a limit to the number of potted noodles one family can eat). But rather, take a look in your cleaning cabinet, how many multiples are in there taking up space? And do you actually know exactly how much of everything you have? If you have space to bulk buy items like washing powder/tablets and toilet tissue, that’s all well and good. But if you don’t, have you considered getting together with friends to take advantage of the best bargains without filling your cupboard space with things that won’t get used for months.
How about downloading apps such as Pantry Check or CozZo which are great for keeping track of what’s in your cupboards and fridge? There are even apps that will suggest recipes based on what’s available and the use-by dates. Yes, the initial input can be a bit tedious but if you are fed up of chucking outdated food or filling your space with stuff you really don’t need, this is a great way to get a grip of your shopping habits and become a bit more organised.
The Living Room
Appliances, gadgets, remote controls and, dare we say it, stacks of old magazines. They can all make your living space look cluttered and let’s be honest, how many of us actually make use of all that stuff? When was the last time you looked at those National Geographics from 1999 or the 10-year-old Architectural Digest? Do yourself a favour, be ruthless!
And the same goes for those electronics that have been superseded by the latest model or that don’t work and you’re promising yourself you’ll get round to fixing them or getting them fixed. Either do it or pass them on to someone who will. Can’t cope with either of those options, then just get rid!
Lotions, potions, shaving gels, anti-ageing creams for him and her. Yes, we know, it’s always great to try new things and we’re the first to indulge but, if you try and it and decide you’re not going to finish the container and will never make a repeat purchase, get rid, right now. Keeping hold of this stuff just risks another attempt to like it and another, each doomed to failure. And, don’t forget, all this stuff has best before dates and, particularly for things like sun screen, these are really important. So, have a check on your shelves and make sure everything you intend to keep is, in fact, still in date.
Responsibly dispose of any old chemicals you have lying around, particularly if you have mislaid the instructions. Give your bushes and trees a trim and consider the January sales for some replacements for any furniture that is beyond the help of a sander and a lick of paint or varnish.
There, now doesn’t that feel better?
HEALTH IS WEALTH
This might be a sore point for some, especially if you don’t have good insurance. But, we hardly need to tell you that your health is your biggest asset and your greatest treasure. And there’s plenty you can do to keep yourself well without breaking the bank.
For example, excuse us for getting personal, but when did you last change your toothbrush? If your answer was within the last three to four months, well done, have a gold star. According to the American Dental Association, that’s the maximum time for optimal usage. Longer than that and you risk your trusty brush starting to fail at its job. When bristles become frayed and worn, they’re no longer effective at clearing plaque and food debris, potentially leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Also, when was the last time you saw a dentist? Some would have us believe that we should be going for a check-up every six months but, according the body Nice, which provides guidance for the National Health Service in England and Wales, the frequency of dental visits all depends on the individual. They recommend that children go at least once a year, because their teeth can decay faster, while adults without problems can wait as long as two years. So, if you can’t remember the last time you had a check-up, now might be a good time. Always remember that oral health can be a strong indicator of wider well-being.
Throughout the year, there are special days dedicated to various aspects of our well-being, from heart health to men’s issues, breast cancer awareness and mental health. These may seem gimmicky but, in reality they’re a great reminder to get ourselves checked and many hospitals and clinics have special offers running in specific months offering various tests and promotions.
It’s also useful to be aware of what’s normal for you and look out for changes. For example, most of us associate chest pain or tightness with heart issues but, according the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, we should also look out for less common symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in the legs or arms which can be a sign of narrowing of arteries. So, getting to know your own body can be key to catching serious issues early.
Virtually every area of our health can be improved if we take better care of our diet and fitness. And, by that, we don’t mean a restrictive, weight loss regime but rather a moderate, sustainable way of eating that creates health for life.
If you’ve come out of the festive season feeling a bit bloated and a lot meh, this could be the ideal opportunity to take charge.
Have you thought about meal prep – preparing several days of food in advance so you always have healthy options to hand? The benefits of this lifestyle change can be physical, mental and financial. You’ll obviously eat better if you’re not grabbing the nearest unhealthy option, the sense of order will impart mental calm and financially, you’ll save money by not impulse buying.
Many people argue that they don’t have time for meal prep. And, seriously, we can relate. So how about looking up one of the meal delivery services around. Check out what’s available. Look for reviews and value for money. Assess the menus to see if there are plenty of options you will enjoy and maybe give it a go for a month. It may seem like an expensive option but we’ve spoken to several food service users who say they actually save money as they don’t need to shop and are, therefore, not tempted by spur of the moment purchases at the supermarket.
And what about fitness? According to the IHRSA, a global community of professionals in the health and fitness industry, average gym membership increases by 12% in January (though in some areas this jumps to 30-40%) but, perhaps not surprisingly, more than nine per cent of these new members will quit within three months. So, if you’re considering treating yourself to a gym membership for the New Year, you might want to hold off for a while.
According to Harvard Health, part of the USA’s Harvard Medical School, two of the five best exercises for overall health are swimming and walking. Though many of us have access to compound and apartment pools, swimming might be something you should put off till the weather is a bit warmer. But, short of injury or disability, there is absolutely nothing to stop everyone else getting out for a brisk walk every day.
The health.harvard.edu website says: “Walking is simple, yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood, and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease, for example). A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can even improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.”
So, there you have it. All you need is a well-fitting and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Over time, you can go farther and faster, until you’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.
THE FUN FACTOR
Last but not least, all of us need some fun in our lives.
According to creativehealingphilly.com: “Having fun has positive biological effects. When we do pleasurable activities, it releases dopamine which leads to positivity and can counteract more uncomfortable feelings of hopelessness and stress. Having fun [also] allows us the opportunity to connect and create bonds with others.”
So, take this New Year as an opportunity to ask yourself “where’s the fun in my life?” If you struggle to answer, something needs to change.
We’ve talked about work and health but do you have a healthy work-life balance. Do you make time for yourself to simply enjoy life, whether that be with family, friends or even just by yourself? Make 2023 the year you dedicate some serious time to just having fun.
Join a singing group – for most it doesn’t really matter if you can actually sing well, it’s an inclusive activity that releases endorphins and gives a tremendous sense of well-being. Check out Manama Singers for meetings and events. You could even belt out some tunes at a karaoke night, there’s serious money to be won in some of the annual competitions.
Take your healthy walking to a new level, get together with a group of friends and explore places of interest such as the Pearling Trail.
Explore new activities such as kite surfing, horse riding or padel, which seems to be popping up all over the place just recently.
Or just fall back on old favourites such as a good old boogie. Take a dance class, join in an online disco or go the old-fashioned route and head out to a club to strut your stuff. If the level of activity is unaccustomed, you might ache a bit the next day, but it will be so worth it.
Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is to make time for yourself. Make sure it’s something you enjoy and go for it with all your heart.
Make 2023 the year you do the things you’ve been putting off for years. Get that job. Take responsibility for your health. Turn your living space into a junk-free sanctuary. And most of all, have some fun!