As another year draws to a close, many of us are already thinking of the ways we can improve our lives in 2017. Whether it be to eat healthier, exercise more, spend less time online or save more money, there’s a little fire that seems to ignite in each of us as we near the New Year, promising to kick old habits to the curb.
But the likely story is that most of us won’t stick to our resolutions much past January. The reason? We haven’t made way for sustainable lifestyle changes that we actually enjoy.
Instead, we end up working out for three weeks straight, buying expensive organic groceries we don’t know what to do with, and deleting all social apps from our phones until that one great party that needed to be posted. We over-commit without being prepared.
Instead, we should be looking to these hobbies that will help rid us of bad habits.
1. Eat healthier: Learn to cook
If your goal is to eat healthier, you should pick up a cookbook and learn about food. Cooking for yourself isn’t about buying frozen chicken fingers and ramen noodles; if you learn about food and how to make it you’ll end up making healthier choices at the grocery store.
And once you have some knowledge about cooking healthier meals, you could end up saving a lot of money (as well as your waistline).
2. Exercise more: Don’t go to a gym
Exercising at a gym requires an incredible amount of self-motivation, and it’s the reason why many of us will get a membership that goes mostly unused.
The solution: join a local studio instead. Cycling, kickboxing, boot camp, yoga — these often cost as much as a gym membership and are significantly more motivating to go to. Why? For starters, you don’t have to be responsible for the workout – you just have to show up. Your instructor will push you from start to finish, and you don’t have to wonder how long to run, how many reps to do, or if it’s your turn on the rower yet.
An even better benefit of a studio is that you could pick up a hobby you end up becoming very good at or interested in, like practicing yoga or distance cycling.
3. Use social media less: Read a book
The time we spend on the internet is often during our down time — moments that seem to be empty of things to do that we fill with mindless scrolling.
Sure, we can go and uninstall that one super distracting app, but chances are we’ll wind up thumbing our way through the next best distraction on the internet — and we all know there’s no shortage of those. Instead, research a good book you want to read, get it, and then commit to reading it.
You don’t have to uninstall anything or boycott the internet, you just have to bring your book with you and be willing to crack it open in place of your social feeds during your down time. And if your book is good enough, you’ll want to read it instead of your Instagram. Scrolling does pale in comparison to a killer plot twist or a genius insight.
4. All of the above: Spend time outside
There’s nothing quite like a brisk stroll through the city, by the waterside, or down a hiking trail. Bad habits are often the result of laziness – that we do things because they’re easy and accessible. But if we want to eat healthier, get more exercise, and spend less time online, finding something we like to do outdoors is a great way to achieve these goals.
Walking, hiking, gardening, or even just finding a park bench to read a book from are just some of the ways you can get outside and focus your attention elsewhere. Reserving time for the outdoors could even sync up with your newfound appreciation for food — you could go to farmer’s markets — or maybe your gym membership is replaced with the hiking trail in your backyard you haven’t touched in years.
Whatever hobby you choose to adopt, adding an element of the outdoors is a great way to increase motivation and appreciation.