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17 Big Changes for a New Year, New You

Photograph by Twenty20

Every new year offers us the chance to make changes in our lives. Big changes often start with small steps, so setting a daily intention can help you feel more in control of your life. Even something simple like deciding to have more patience during homework hour or vowing to drink your eight glasses of water can give you a sense of accomplishment that can lead to implementing big changes.

In addition to taking even small actions, here are 17 big changes you can make in the coming year.

1. Mend Those Fences

Holding a grudge is detrimental to your mental and physical health, so repairing relationships can be a huge benefit to your well-being. Part of the process might be learning how to apologize authentically or letting your guard down to accept the other person's outreach. Either way, mending fences is a solid way to start off the new year.

2. Look to the Light

It's easy to focus and obsess about things that are going wrong in our lives, but sometimes we need to look at our accomplishments and everything that's going right. Try this: Make it a point to tell one friend or family member something good that happened every week—just saying it out loud often helps us realize our strengths and the positive impact we're having on others.

3. Do You

Make yourself a priority! Between work and family, it's easy to forget to take care of yourself. Wellness experts say it's important to spend quality time on yourself every day—just 10 minutes spent on a hobby, reading or meditating could reduce stress and improve your well-being. So, you do you!

4. Connect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Consider making meaningful connections a top priority for the new year. According to health professionals, an increasing number of people in society feel lonely, which is taking a toll on mental and physical health. Reach out to people for your own well-being and to help others. You never know when someone is longing for a friend.

5. Lend a Hand

Besides just being awesome for the common good, volunteering can be good for your health. According to a recent study, lending a helping hand can lower blood pressure. It even shows that those who volunteer frequently live longer. So, if you don't want to do it for your fellow man, do it for yourself.

6. Make a Move

Hate your landlord? Your roommates? Your neighbors? Maybe it's time to make a move to a different apartment, a new neighborhood or even a different city. It could be a major change, but research suggests that relocating can be good for the soul. Some cities are more tolerant, more educated and have a greater number of creative people, and their residents are happier on average.

7. Free Yourself

In a dead-end romantic relationship? Your "bestie" always putting you down? Make the year all about taking a fresh, realistic look at your relationships. You can either fix what's wrong or let it go altogether. It might be painful, but you might also come away with a renewed, healthy connection or end up freeing yourself from some toxic bonds.

8. School Yourself

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? (Not that we're calling you an old dog.) It's never too late to go back to school to complete an unfinished degree or earn an advanced one. In 2002, Steven Spielberg finally earned his final credit for his bachelor's degree at California State Long Beach, after writing a single term paper—37 years after he first enrolled.

9. Say 'Yes' to a Pet

Have you been pining for a pooch? Longing to have your black sweater blanketed in cat fur? Maybe 2019 is the year you finally adopt a pet. (Ask yourself these questions regarding responsible pet ownership before you do.) Bonus: Having pets can increase your physical activity and help you become more social—some other great goals for the new year.

10. Get to Work—or Not

Being miserable in your job can affect your physical health as well as your mental health. Research new jobs and ask yourself some hard questions before you submit your resignation. Sometimes a change just means improving your situation at your current job, so maybe the answer is getting the confidence to ask for what you want and the courage to make it happen—all good things to strive for in 2019.

11. Fall Head Over Heels

This one needs no explanation. But falling in love requires some work—making time for a relationship and opening yourself up might be a task in itself. Someone even wrote a WikiHow article about how to fall in love and, among the cute illustrations and clichés, there is some sound advice, including "show interest," "be honest" and "get out and meet people." Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

12. Take It All Off

That pixie cut isn't going to land on your head by itself! Take a chance (not just a trim) and get that cut or color you've been admiring on a Kardashian (no, not that one—the other one). Sometimes a new hairstyle can change your attitude and your state of mind. And remember—it will always grow back.

13. Get Your Mind on Your Money

Get serious about reducing your debt, even if you have to get help to do it. (Some banks and nonprofits offer free financial planning.) And start saving for the future. A CNN report says that many Americans don't even have $500 saved for emergencies. Skip a few coffees a week, cook at home more and put your savings into a separate account.

14. Give Your Parenting Style a Makeover

How about making 2019 the Year of Less Shouting? We all have things we'd like to change when it comes to parenting our kids, so now's the time to take a step back and see what's working and what isn't, what's harming and what's helping. It's guaranteed to make for a happier household and it might even encourage your kids to change some things about their behavior, too. #TheYearOfNoWhining

15. Focus on Your Health

If you've been putting off getting a physical or a mammogram, or getting that mole checked out, please make that appointment now. Every year should be about making your health a priority, but if you've gotten busy (we've all been there) take a few minutes in January to line up those visits in the next few weeks. Your body will thank you.

16. Be the Change

Get involved in what's going on in the politics of your community, your city, your world. In addition to voting in local and national elections, research issues, call and write your congresspeople, attend rallies and town halls. If you're really badass, run for office. We're counting on you!

17. Do the Right Thing

Do you "Like" all the videos on Facebook that show people confronting bullies on the subway? Be that person who stands up. Say something. Do something. Call out injustice while it's happening and not just in a comment section. Remember, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

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