Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year, New Habits

I’m usually not a big fan of coming up with New Year resolutions. However, I've recently become more methodical about putting together a list of goals for the new year and reviewing how the past year went across various aspects of my life from career, health, friends, family, community, personal, financial etc.

I think along with reviewing your goals, at the start of each year, it's also important for me to think about the things that I am most thankful for. Every year this list seems to get longer as each year ends up being better than the year before (it's a well known fact that we get happier as we age up to a certain point). And while this year I'm thankful for many things, one of the areas that have really helped me improve and that I'm looking forward to taking advantage of again this year is all the technology that makes my life simpler and helps me focus on self-improvement. Many of my New Year resolutions this year involved creating new habits to work toward personal development goals. A lot of these resolutions came about through all the self-reflection that I had to go through for business school applications. They have also been inspired by the numerous articles and blog posts that have been written about how to use new technology to help keep your New Years resolutions (TechCrunch and BBC).

A few of the new applications that I plan to use this year to help tackle some of my goals include:

·         100Plus: to help develop new and healthier habits. I especially like this app compared to a few of the other digital health applications that focus on improving health because it starts out by asking you a few questions and then calculates your hypothetical life expectancy. From there it uses gamification techniques to motivate you to do new tasks and pick up new health habits to add to your life expectancy score. I'm currently at a life expectancy of 88 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and 1 day and given the fact that I've had a few relatives live past 100 years, I'm hoping that I can get that number to grow to a few additional years by completing 100Plus daily "Hopps"
·         iPad: to motivate me to cook more. I just read 4 Hour Chef and I want to try and learn how to cook at least one new meal a month
·         Podcasts and Wikipedia to brush up on languages starting with Turkish, French and Spanish. Here I'm taking another tip from Tim Ferris by focusing on the 1,000 most frequently used words in each language
·         Learn to code (Python and Ruby) using all the free resources I can get my hands on - Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, Codecademy and this site
·         Basis: I'm still waiting for my Basis to finally ship so I can use it to track heart rate, stress, sleep, exercise, etc. I currently use the FitBit and really enjoy it, but based on everything I've read, I'm looking forward to trying this new device out to see if it's worth all the hype
·         Project 365: to help my get back into photography by reminding me to take a picture every day with my iPhone
·         Continue to read a book each week. I have a very long reading list that I keep through both Google Docs and Goodreads and with my library card, I always seem to have the maximum number of holds on both physical books and ebooks. Keep a look out for a new startup called Oyster which will be like a Netflix or Spotify for books.
·         23andMe: to learn more about my health through my DNA. I've gone back and forth about whether or not I would want to know if I'm predisposed for certain conditions and I've finally decided that I think it's better to know in the event that there is anything you can do to help improve your health.
·         Sleep101: I'm getting rid of my old alarm and now focusing on not only tracking my sleep but also making sure I wake up around the right time in my sleep cycle.
·         Buster: to help write more regularly each day. I used to just use pen and paper but I wouldn't do it everyday and I would forget. Buster is a great motivator because I become disappointed if I miss a day since I'll see a mark on the website showing which days I've missed. I also really enjoy how it analyzes my writing to tell me how I'm feeling based on the words I'm using and what I've written the most about and whether I'm feeling more introverted or extroverted based on my writing.
·         iPhone Timer: to help time myself during meditation. It's amazing how many books I read last year that all mentioned the benefits of meditation (clear head, reduce stress, visualize the future, gain energy, improve optimism, etc.). While I tried last year to make this a daily habit, I failed miserably because my mind would wander constantly and I would often sneak a peek at the clock to see how much time passed. Now I just set my iPhone timer to two minutes and hopefully by the end of the year I can ease myself into longer 10 or 15 minute sessions.

I know this seems like a long list of new habits I’m trying to pick up, especially since many people recommend picking one new habit each month and focusing on just that one until you've maintained it for 30 days. We all have a finite amount of willpower, but since I've never been the type to wait, so I'm just going to challenge myself and go after them all at the same time. I have a feeling that not all of these new habits will stick throughout the year (which is why I'm not referring to them as New Years Resolutions), but if I can benefit from even a few of these new technologies listed above, I will consider 2013 to be an overall success!

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