6 Easy Ways to Improve Yourself in 2016

New Years Eve Fireworks Heart Text

Another New Year Already?

New Years Eve Fireworks Heart Text

Every year, it’s the same thing – make a bunch of ridiculous New Year’s resolutions and then feel like a failure because I don’t follow through. I don’t know about you, but I never, ever follow through. I either set lofty goals that I have no actual motivation to achieve, or I try to somehow better my life and after about 3½ days, I get bored and lazy and forget all about it. I think it’s time to set some goals that are not only reasonable, but will actually make life easier or happier in one way or another.

I’m trying to create my own happiness, without relying on anyone else. And, I want to learn more and DO more.

Wanna join me? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Take a Class (or three)

Stack of Books

When I was younger, I hated school. I mean I really, really hated it. I didn’t want to read Shakespeare; I wanted to read Stephen King. I didn’t want to learn what they wanted me to learn. I wanted to choose what I learned. That’s the beauty of being an adult – you can take classes on anything you want!

I didn’t go to college after high school. Sure, I said I was going to. I told everyone I was just going to take a year off. I really had no plans to ever enroll and then, at 18, I got pregnant and everyone stopped asking me about it. I never really gave it much thought again until I was in my 30s and it took until I was 39 before I actually enrolled. Guess what I found out? Almost as much as I hated high school, I love college! Of course, to get my degree, there are classes I don’t necessarily want to take, but I am really enjoying learning. It’s done wonders for my self esteem, too. I’ve been lucky enough to have earned myself a really good job with no degree, by starting at the bottom and working my way up, but I want more. I want to learn. I like learning. I’ve learned skills that I’ve been able to use at work to make my own job easier as well as to help others with theirs.

One huge improvement from way back in the dark ages when I graduated high school is the Internet and online classes. I have only taken one on-campus class so far and it was in the evening, so I didn’t have to miss much work for it. If you work outside the home, ask if your employer offers tuition reimbursement and/or educational leave. Mine does. I can use up to 40 hours per fiscal year of paid leave and I can be reimbursed up to $500 per semester for books, fees, or tuition. I take classes online, if I need to take a little extra time off work to study or complete a project, I get paid, plus I get reimbursed for my books. Good deal, if you ask me.

My family had a really rough year beginning in November 2014. I was able to finish the fall semester that year, but I wasn’t able to keep focused enough to do anything in the spring semester. I took one small summer class, then skipped the fall, and now I’m ready to get back into the swing of things for the spring 2016 semester.

If you don’t want to take formal classes for credit, there are plenty of free online learning tools available, such as:

  • GCFLearnFree has several Microsoft Office classes available now.
  • OEDb (Open Education Database) – over 10,000 courses in Art, Business, Education, Engineering and Computer Science, Health and Medical, Liberal Arts, Math, and Science.
  • Brigham Young University offers around 50 different free courses. Some are religious, but not all of them are. One of their biggest topics is genealogy, so if you want to build your family tree, this is a great place to start.
  • Free-Ed.Net has thousands of free online courses available. They even have a free, 1-year online study program for the GED and other high school equivalency exams.
  • MIT – yes, even MIT has free online courses, using the same materials paying students use.

2. Learn Something Via YouTube

YouTubeHow many tasks do you ask, or even pay, someone else to do for you simply because you don’t know how? If your headlight goes out, do you go to the shop or do you head to the local auto parts store, buy the bulb, and replace it yourself? What if your tire goes flat and you don’t have cell service? Would you know how to change it? How about at home – what if your oven suddenly stops heating or your ice machine stops working (first world problems, I know)?

YouTube it! You’d be surprised how many how-to videos are out there. I already knew how to change a tire and check my oil (thanks to my high school auto shop teacher Mr. Tognetti), but when my taillight went out in my van, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get to the bulb to replace it. YouTube to the rescue! Instead of paying a mechanic who knows how much, I did it myself for under $5. When my oven stopped heating, my husband wanted to get a new range. Nope. I looked the model up on YouTube and found a video showing the likely suspect was a bad igniter, found the part on Amazon for under $25, had it shipped with Prime, and within about four days, we had a working oven again.

So, the next time something needs to be fixed or replaced, before you fork over your hard-earned money, see if you can do it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment.

3. Learn CPR and First Aid

CPR and First AidWould you know what to do if someone began to choke, fell unconscious on the floor, or cut themselves deeply, losing blood quickly? If not, you might want to take classes on CPR and First Aid. Find a class through the Red Cross online or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (in the US).

Learn these skills:

  • First Aid: Learn how to respond to common first aid emergencies, including burns; cuts; head, neck and back injuries and more. Pediatric option available.
  • CPR/AED Learn how to respond to cardiac and breathing emergencies in adults, including the use of automated external defibrillators (AED). Adult and infant/child CPR options available.

If you’ve taken these classes before, refresh yourself and renew your certification. I took infant and child CPR when my oldest (now 24 years old) was a baby and everything has changed. I now take refresher courses through work every other year and I feel much more confident that I’d be able to help someone if the opportunity ever presents itself. In fact, just the confidence the classes and certification gave me has helped me help other people remain calm while waiting for emergency services after car accidents, falls, and other various injuries. Thankfully, I haven’t had to use CPR yet, but I’m confident that I can if I have to.

4. Commit Random (or not-so-random) Acts of Kindness

Hand UpDoing nice things for others is seen as doing good for others, but it also does good for you! Allan Luks and Peggy Payne have identified some of the physical effects of kindness in their publication “The Healing Power of Doing Good”. These effects can include a greater sense of calmness and relaxation, which may also ease pain (from headaches to back pain) and may even reduce high blood pressure. They also suggest that other effects of kindness may increase your energy level and can even reduce excessive stomach acid. Need ideas? Look here. Need more? Google has thousands of ideas. RAOK are good for everyone.

5. Volunteer Your Time or Talents

VolunteerAt least once in the year, give your time or your knowledge to someone or something. Teach abused women at a domestic violence center a craft.  Teach children to play the piano. Teach a free class at your local library. These are also acts of kindness, but these specific acts can actually teach someone a valuable skill.

 

6. Fake it ‘Til You Make it

LoveSometimes life just plain drags you down. Bad things happen to good people. Just watch the news for five minutes and see how it makes you feel. The opposite is also true. The more happy news stories you read, the happier you will feel. If you fake gratitude, you will begin to feel genuinely grateful. Smiling when you don’t feel like smiling can result in smiling without even realizing it. I like to keep positive stories in my news feed on Facebook to keep happiness in my face, where it belongs. Try it. You might like it, too. <3

Here are a few of my favorite Facebook pages for stories or photos that make me smile:

Be kind whenever possible

Just be nice. Hold the door open for someone. Let a car go ahead of you in line. Look someone directly in the eyes and say, “Thank you” – and mean it. Being kind can be as good for you as it is for the recipient of your kindness.

Life the life you will wish to have lived with you are dying.
– Christian F. Gellert
Best Tips for Improving Your Life in 2016

Don’t forget to visit these awesome bloggers who are helping us all improve our lives in 2016! From reducing your carbon footprint to becoming a better parent, they’ve got it all!

Improve Your Photography – from Slap Dash Mom

Start a Budget in 2016 – from Life on Deer Run

Improve Your Relationship With Your Teen – from Five in Ohio

10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint – from Driftwood Gardens

5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight – from Walking on Sunshine Recipes

7 Ways to Eat Better in 2016 – from Wendy Ilium

2016 is My Year to Forgive Myself – from Witch Weigh

Stress Less About Cleaning – from Ooh Shiny

Be a Better Mom – from It’s a Kono Life

Be a Great Mom With a Physical Disability – from Parsimonious Pash

Making Better Time with Twins – from Twins and Testing Things

Fall in Love With YOU – from Crazy Bloggin Mom

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