Well, it’s official. The new year is here. Like everything else in our rapid-fire world these days, with the flick of a switch (or drop of a big crystal ball in Times Square) all the anticipation, planning and counting down is suddenly over and then comes… the big let down. Because no matter how much we force feed it, bumper-sticker optimism and new resolutions, somehow, most new years just don’t feel all that new. In fact, chances are you dragged all your 2011 challenges into 2012. Doing more with less on the job? Check. Trying to still get a job? Check. Relationship stresses? Check. Wish you were in a relationship? Check. Owed too much money? Check. Feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated and out of whack? Check, check, and check! Let’s be real. Things don’t suddenly get better as one year changes into another anymore than they magically improve when a random tough Thursday becomes a freshly hatched Friday. Nothing becomes “new” unless we do. So, here are five surefire ways to make you feel, look and perform better, this new year. —Caroline Clarke
Bleach Your Teeth: I know. It sounds superficial and it is, but it’s also not. We all make so many doomed resolutions each year. Why not do something where success is guaranteed? Bleaching your teeth with over-the-counter whitening strips is inexpensive (try 150 times cheaper than having your dentist do it), fast (adhere to the simple instructions and you’ll see results in less than a week), easy (you really can’t mess this up), and effective. No matter what you’re starting with, whiter teeth will make you look better and younger, which will in turn make you feel better and smile more. The universe will respond to that with great favor—possibly it could even lead to that new relationship or job you’ve been seeking!
Adopt a 10-10-10 Approach to Life: Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 economic strategy (how’s that for a blast from the 2011 past?) was either idiotic or genius, depending on which pundit was talking about it. But one thing is certain: it was catchy. Round off that number and apply it to a few key areas of your life for surefire self-improvement. Vow to exercise for at least 10 minutes, at least 10 days a month, for at least 10 months of the year. It may not seem like much, but it’s supremely doable and it beats doing nothing. Chances are, if you stick to it for a few months, you’ll start to exceed it, which will definitely yield results. Or, pledge to learn 10 new things, nurture 10 strategic relationships, and attend 10 key events this year that will serve your career or business. Try donating 10 hours, days or weeks of service to 10 non-profits in 10 months. You get the idea. However you work it, you’ll feel at least 10 times better about yourself.
Go Someplace You’ve Never Been: You don’t have to drop big bucks to go around the world in order to change your life (although, if you can, bon voyage!). Go to a comedy club and laugh all night. Try a new house of worship or a different type of yoga class. Check out the art gallery you always pass but never walked into, or the jazz club, bird sanctuary or hiking trail you read about in your local paper. Do something tourists come to your town for that you never once tried. You might discover a new hobby or make a new friend. Or, you might simply have an unforgettable time.