With each new year comes the opportunity to refresh and reboot. Health, finances, relationships—all aspects of life are suddenly viewed with room for improvement. While the usual talk of self-betterment can result in poorly-executed resolutions (read: your unused gym membership), extra planning can lead to carefully curated resolutions with a (hopefully) higher follow-through rate.
This year, make your new-year game plan fool-proof with smart resolutions that are 100 per cent achievable.
1. Go on a digital diet
This year, instead of counting calories, why not get restrictive with your online time instead? On average, people who are on social media spend two hours each day scrolling, liking, tweeting and posting. Not only has social media been found to trigger feelings of unhappiness, it's also been shown to negatively affect a person's mental health with studies indicating a correlation between social media use and depression, anxiety and fear of missing out (yes, your FOMO is real).
If you find yourself double screening when watching Netflix, or using social media as a tool to buy time (hello, work commute), try and find other means of entertainment. Get into a Podcast series, pick up a book, or watch a more entertaining movie—it's all about finding balance and minimising your bad social media habits, most of which often go unnoticed.
Place yourself on a restrictive two-week digital detox and delete some of your go-to apps from your phone (or at least remove them from your home screen). While you mightn't last the full two weeks, the ban will make you more aware of your social media use, and hopefully, show you the benefits of spending less time using the platforms.
2. Get your super in order
With so much chatter around superannuation, it can be easy to tune out and remain ignorant about your super status. However, your superannuation laziness could actually be costing you thousands of dollars without you even knowing. (That's a new wardrobe right there.)
You could start by consolidating your super into the one super fund. If you've worked more than one job, chances are you've got a collection of super accounts spread across multiple funds, which means you're paying more in fees than you need to be.
Fact: Six million Australians have lost super accounts, amounting in over $14 billion of lost super money—and some of that could be yours. Do your research and find out which super fund is the best for you. Industry super funds have consistently higher earnings in each asset class, lower fees and no commissions so keep an eye out for the Industry SuperFund symbol when gathering your intel.
Once you've streamlined your super, you can start thinking about the amount you're contributing each pay. You can easily get ahead on your super savings by adding more than the minimum amount each pay.
Bottom line: Your super will take less than half a day to organise but will make a huge difference to your retirement wealth. Consider it an investment in your future and get up to date, stat.
3. Make a difference (But actually)
Set aside one of your New Year resolutions to helping someone else—and follow through. Do some research online and find a charity or organisation that speaks to you—if you're passionate about the cause, you'll be more likely to follow through on your commitments, whether it be volunteering your time or fundraising.
Start taking yourself more seriously and use your voice for matters close to you. Whether it's politics of poetry, there are heaps of creative methods to channel your voice—start your own podcast series with a friend or write an article for your local paper—you never know what it could lead to.
If you're time poor or know your track record with deed-doing isn't the best, find a less hands-on way to help others such as charitable gift giving. Try S'well's sleek drink bottles; the company donates a significant chunk of its earnings to UNICEF each year. Closer to home, Two Good will make two of whatever you order (try the granola), gifting the second one to someone in need.
4. Set yourself a finance goal
No matter what your financial status may be, sticking to a budget can be tricky at the best of times. It only takes one unexpected social situation or forgotten birthday to blow a weekly budget plan right out the window and cue: more credit card debt.
Instead of drastically limiting your spend to get ahead, keep your financial goals realistic. Separate your pay into strict 'spend' and 'save' categories, and set aside a small amount each week to put into a back-up account that you can tap into for those unexpected spends. If you love your morning coffees, don't deprive yourself completely—try limiting your orders to only three a week and see them as a treat, rather than an everyday necessity.
Write down a financial goal you want to achieve by the end of the year, along with a step-by-step plan on how to achieve it. Whether it be a quarter of a mortgage deposit, a new car or an overseas holiday, setting yourself a goal will put your spending habits under some healthy pressure. Drop $1K on those new Balenciaga sneakers or put your money away for a few extra days in Italy with your bestie? Being able to visualise exactly where your savings are going will help you spend more wisely.
5. Learn a new skill
Continually challenging yourself to learn a new skill set is a clever way to future-proof your career. Your skills with Photoshop or your ability to speak Spanish could give you the advantage over your competition.
Enrol in an after-hours or online course in an area that interests you. It doesn't have to serve your nine-to-five; Brit & Co. run online creative classes in calligraphy, photo styling and LED electronics, while many Australian unis now offer online courses in business start-ups. You never know—what might start out as a side-hustle could end up being a successful and profitable career option in a few years' time.
Having more knowledge to offer your employer will help you get ahead, even when it feels there is no movement. Use your learnings to leverage your current position, asking your boss for stretch assignments that force you to utilise different skills. It will prove your versatility and will be a nice addition to the resume.
Originally published by ELLE on 27 November 2018. The information referred to may change from the date of publication and care should be taken when relying on such information.
*The above material, whilst correct at the time of publication may include references or statements which are no longer current.