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Start 2016 the right way
Well here it is. January. The month that follows December, year on year. The hugely disappointing follow-up to a multi-award winning film. After the Christmas break, which was likely filled with presents and port, heading back to work in January is a daunting thought for all of us. But the night you sang Auld Lang Syne you probably made some 'resolutions' to yourself.
After a decade of false promises and 'there's always next year' excuses, 2016 is the year that you should realise these resolutions, don't you think? Have a read below to find out how motivation and dedication can be cultivated to further your personal and career goals...
I could make a fair guess that two of the most common new year's resolutions made across the globe are 'shed X amount of weight' and 'save X amount of money'. Whether you're trimming down for a beach holiday or saving for a house, it can be all too easy to lose sight of these goals when we hit the grindstone again in January. After all, making such promises at a time when you're spending hundreds on presents and scoffing festive buffets seems easy to do.
When the 1st of January finally hits, suddenly drawing a line at excessive calorie intake and saving more money isn't a tangible plan for most. There's the leftover christmas food that needs eating, the credit card bills that need paying, and the inflated electricity bill from the 3000 christmas lights you thought were 'totally necessary' for the house. All of a sudden, January is rolling into February and you're still living in the great depression of December 2015.
Positive carry over from December's wage will ensure that you aren't sparse of spare cash come January. If you start the year like this, you give yourself a better chance of staying 'ahead of the curve' with your finances.
I guess the question I'm raising here is can we stop such a thing from happening and, instead of hauling ourselves into the new year with a yawn and stutter, can we start January with a burst of optimism and energy?
Pre-empting those January Blues
As you chose to read this article, there is a 98% chance the January Blues have already taken ahold. Half of the battle is to not let this happen though. By anticipating the January 'feeling' and all that usually comes with it, you can prepare more effectively - whether from a psychological or a financial perspective.
It's a lot like going on holiday. If you know you're going away weeks in advance, you will be careful to ensure you have packed everything you need and made all necessary travel arrangements. If someone turns to you and says you're going away tomorrow, the lack of warning might lead you to forget some essentials and walk into it unprepared.
Looking after your body by exercising and eating the right foods is paramount if you want to feel more energetic and enthusiastic in day-to-day life.
Metaphorically speaking, the 31st of December catches us all off-guard every single year - "enjoy your singing and dancing. Get another drink. Oh, by the way, it's January tomorrow. A new year. You're getting older and you have a backlog of failed resolutions. Good luck." Then, with a firm kick, you're sent into a blank calendar and expected to perform miracles with your life.
But we can avoid such an abrupt start by remembering some simple rules in the lead up to the new year...
Ensuring you have the money to actually cover Christmas is a good way to protect yourself from January austerity. The last half of the year seems to disappear at the blink of an eye, as early nights roll in and the hue of summer turns to the grayscale of winter. But as dark as it may be outside, keeping your bank account in the black can be a struggle.
To stop the hefty costs of Christmas creeping up on you, one thing to do is to set aside an amount of money every month to create a festive nest egg for the end-of-year spending. This means that your December pay cheque doesn't need to be touched for any of the gifts or food / drink required.
Positive carry over from December's wage will ensure that you aren't sparse of spare cash come January. If you start the year like this, you give yourself a better chance of staying 'ahead of the curve' with your finances. Start on the back foot however, and you will find yourself in financial quicksand.
Healthy body, healthy mind
As Francis Bacon once said, 'a healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.' Keeping up a regular exercise routine does more than just melt that Christmas pudding gut. Research has shown that working out at least 3 times per week has a positive impact on your overall happiness, focus and productivity.
Looking after your body by exercising and eating the right foods is paramount if you want to feel more energetic and enthusiastic in day-to-day life. No matter how busy your schedule might be, if you can find time to do just 20 minutes of intense training per day you will notice an almost instant effect on your well being.
So I guess the word here is moderation. Keeping tabs on your food consumption and spending will simultaneously ensure that you start 2016 in the right way.
The key to maintaining such a routine is to make it a lifestyle. As with most things we succeed at, consistency is the key. Those days you don't feel like training might be the hardest - but they are also the most rewarding, especially if you sit at a desk all day.
If there is one phrase you need to remove from your vocabulary in 2016 it's 'I'll start tomorrow'. Live by the day when it comes to exercise and diet and you will soon be ditching those bad habits of the year before. Getting yourself one of these is a great place to start.
This encompasses both exercise and finances. While starting a new health programme or savings routine is always good news, ensure you pace yourself to avoid burnout. January is a good time to start from scratch, but if you start too fast then, come February, you will be cooked.
Allow yourself some treats in your diet, there is no need to be as strict as a professional athlete. These treats every now and again will stave off cravings that can derail any diet plans you might have made. Be lenient in your savings too, as we all have expensive months from time to time (such as December!).
Where Christmas is concerned, you can never start too early. Doing this in January prolongs that festive feeling and will also ensure that you are adequately prepared for the merry escapades in 11 month's time.
The moment you become too strict and try and save too much in one month, will see you have a splurge on something expensive to relieve the anxiety and stress (this is much like strict dieting leads to binging on the weekend).
So I guess the word here is moderation. Keeping tabs on your food consumption and spending will simultaneously ensure that you start 2016 in the right way. The start is always the hardest too, so once you are over the first couple of months, these good habits will seem routine.
Take up a new hobby
A new year is a fresh start, giving you a good excuse to start a totally new hobby. Is there something you've always wanted to try out? Playing the guitar? Skiing? Riding roller coasters? Well why not use some of your free time to do exactly that.
I hate to echo terribly clich sayings but you only live once (unless you believe in reincarnation, in which case we will come back as an animal - probably a cat) so trying new things might unlock a part of your brain that you've never used before.
What if you discovered you had some latent talent for music and find success late on? That's what happened to Gordon Haskell, who released a huge hit single 'How Wonderful You Are' in 2001, at the age of 55. This goes to show success doesn't have an expiry date.
If one of your resolutions is to save more money, maybe this tip is a little exuberant. But what better way to overcome those January blues than by giving your house the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen treatment? A lick of paint and new furniture can symbolise the 'fresh start' ideology by showcasing your house in a chic new look.
Electrical goods are often in the new year sales, so if you were planning on getting a new vacuum cleaner or washing machine, January is the time to do so.
As part of the make-over, having a de-clutter wouldn't hurt either. Making more room in your wardrobe and emptying out the garage will make space for new clothes, and maybe you will be able to actually fit a car in the garage. DIY projects keep the mind busy and help you to avoid slipping into the depressive void of the winter month.
Plan next Christmas
Where Christmas is concerned, you can never start too early. Doing this in January prolongs that festive feeling and will also ensure that you are adequately prepared for the merry escapades in 11 month's time. Planning can be anything from getting some bargains in the January sales and storing them away for the year, to simply drawing out a plan of how you want to budget in every month in the lead up to Christmas.
Booking your Christmas dinner at that fancy restaurant you've hankered after since it opened in 2004, only to miss out because of last minute planning, is a good idea. Making a start on any elaborate gifts, such as photo album making, will take the pressure off in the final quarter of the year.
Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder
The rather apt acronym SAD (seasonal affective disorder) apparently affects over 2 million people across the UK. It's defined as a seasonal state of depression that occurs around late autumn and winter time, caused by the lack of light and general gloomy weather. So how can you possibly stop the inevitable pattern of a season from giving you a dose of feeling down?
The first thing to remember is to get as much exercise as possible. Even if you're going for a 30 minute walk on your lunch break, the daylight, no matter how dull and wintry it may be, will release endorphins and make you feel more positive generally.
If the rain is beating down outside, it is all too easy to curl up on the sofa with a bag of tortillas and salsa. But research has shown that going for a run or doing exercise in such conditions has a huge impact on making us happy (post-event of course). If the conditions outside are simply too bad to brave, a trip to the gym for a swim or a weights session will suffice. So there you go, no excuses whatsoever.
January Sales Splurge
Okay, so this might be a little contradictory to the whole 'budgeting' point from earlier BUT there are positives to this. Aside from lifting your gloomy mood, buying yourself some treats in January can serve multiple purposes. Most shops tend to have some tremendous sales on at this time of year, meaning you can effectively kit yourself out now for the entire 11 months ahead.
The Next sale is notorious for offering up some clothing and homeware bargains, so why not buy all of your summer wardrobe while it's cheap? Electrical goods are often in the new year sales, so if you were planning on getting a new vacuum cleaner or washing machine, January is the time to do so.
As humans it is natural for us to be happy when we spend money on ourselves, as it's like a reward for all of your hard work and effort throughout the previous month (although a new vacuum cleaner will do little to excite most people). This will lift your mood and hopefully help you to swerve the January blues.
The key is to nip the blues in the bud. If you feel them creeping on you, give them a metaphorical kick and use one of the above methods to get over the hump. Once the year gets into full swing they will become a distant memory.
When it ices over or snows, get the sledge out, build a snowman and see the positives. As a month, we find January so hard because it follows such an exciting month as December. We still have the dark nights and summer seems far away.
But embrace them and use the dark nights to do something new - something you didn't have time to do in the lead up to Christmas because you was too busy de-tangling 500 fairy lights and writing Christmas cards for your neighbour's friend's dog.
January is a great time for fresh starts, which is why it is the most popular month for people to start job hunting to further their careers. Whatever you are looking to do, getting yourself on board with a recruitment agency will give you a head start in the search and allow the professionals to match your career goals and qualifications to the right opportunities. Their advice and assistance will help to relieve you of that depressing job that's been getting you down and move you on to better things.
Use some of the above tips to avoid procrastination in your job search - such as staying positive and planning methodically. 2016 is a year to achieve all of your goals, on a personal, physical and professional level.
From everybody at Agency Central we wish you a happy new year and hope you achieve all of your goals and smash those resolutions!
By Jon Clarke