This post initially appeared at Verily Magazine.
We are the generation that has it all together, the generation that made DIY and self-help cool. But many of us have discovered that -- despite our thrift, ingenuity and social clout -- we are no closer to our "best self" than before Pinterest. Ever absorbing and growing, we have taught ourselves to adapt. So why should our personal resolutions be so daunting?
If you're feeling a bit nervous about the looming New Year, I'm with you. But then again, I've never met a list I haven't liked. So here are eight suggestions for millennials to make 2014 their best year yet.
1. Be Realistic.
The secret to making 2014 truly life-changing is to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound; in other words = SMART. Sentiments like, "I want to be healthier in 2014" may last for one week. As guilt sets in, the goal to be "healthy" becomes a distant memory. Instead, evaluate your current lifestyle and tweak small concrete habits, such as cutting back to one soda per week for one month.
2. Digitally Unplug.
It's no secret that we're spending more and more time plugged into digital outlets. But all is not rosy according to researchers from the University of Gothenberg; out of the 4,100 young adults they studied for a year, those who used computers four or more hours per day reported high levels of stress, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.
No more wasting time reading cat lists on Buzzfeed. (Not even this one.) Fill new-found hours by actually making those Pinterest recipes, write a letter to a friend or read five pages of that book you have been meaning to start.
3. Get Connected.
Stop counting your Facebook friends and start making real friends. Neuroscientists report that humans are biologically wired to form strong social communities in order to truly flourish. Yet in recent history, authentic communities have been dissolving in favor of a digital individualism.
Buck the trend by calling a different friend every week -- for example, during a lunch hour or on your way home from happy hour with the colleagues. You'll like your physical friendships even more than your Facebook ones.
4. Less FOMO, More JOLL (Joy of Living Life).
Wasting away in front of your Instagram or Facebook feed is bound to give you a bad case of FOMO syndrome -- known to be associated with self-loathing and temporary paralysis. Take a break from keeping tabs on the lives others and live your own life. No, JOLL is not a thing, but it should be.
Next year, create boundaries for yourself, try cutting the social stalking off by 9 p.m. and make time to focus on you. If you have time to kill, grab a drink with a friend, make a schedule for the following day or -- better yet -- take advantage of your free time to catch a few more hours of sleep!
5. Embrace Failure.
Life includes stumbling blocks for everyone, including fashion CEOs and media tycoons. Failures will come your way, whether it's finishing a project on time, missing out on a great job, or bombing the latest DIY project. But as Conan O'Brien reminded students in his 2011 Commencement speech: "The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality."
So, approach each bump in the road with the question, "what can I learn from this?" It may just be a speed bump before you are well on your way.
6. Save Money.
Better save more than that extra for emergency Starbucks runs. You should have enough to maintain your standard of living for at least three to six months, in case you suddenly lose your job or the car breaks down. Enjoy peace of mind knowing you can handle any financial curve balls life throws your way.
7. Drink More Water
Drinking more water has many benefits including better memory, focus, concentration and higher energy levels. It also improves complexion, relieves headaches and sudden dizzy spells. But if you're like me, drinking 70 oz of water a day can feel like you're drowning yourself from the inside out. Try starting small by finishing one 32 oz bottle per day.
8. Give Back.
It truly is in giving that we receive. Economists gauged the happiness benefits of helping others and found that weekly volunteering is like moving from a $20,000 to a $75,000 yearly salary in happiness. So, take dinner to a neighbor, become a hipster with gleaning or join a weekend community outreach program. You may not get a monetary bonus, but the world will be a brighter place.
In the wise words of Yoda, "Do. Or do not. There is no try." This year, I'm determined to become the best-version-of-myself.
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