Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — The New Year is a time when countless people vow to improve their lives. All too often these goals—eat healthier, exercise more, save money, lose weight—are too broad or overambitious, setting many up for failure.
This year, Bree Housley—author of We Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story about Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes—offers a solution to this recurring problem. Inspired by the memory of her late best friend, Shelly, Bree pledged each week for a year to improve her life one resolution at a time by living the way her friend would have—spontaneous, carefree, and always to the fullest. From writing handwritten letters to revisiting childhood, Bree’s ideas are not only refreshing, but also completely attainable.
For those looking for a new approach to New Year’s resolutions this year, consider Bree’s tips on how to create positive personal change with enduring effects. Here are her top 12 resolutions, one for each month of the year:
1. JANUARY—MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Both social butterflies and social moths can agree that making an unexpected new friend feels like scoring that extra bag of Bugles that falls from the vending machine when just one bag was paid for. Kick off the New Year by making as many new friends with complete strangers as possible. Get proof. Take a picture with each new pal.
2. FEBRUARY—CHALLENGE SAINT VALENTINE
It’s the month for love. Make sure everyone feels it. Say those three special words to everyone, including (but not limited to): moms, dads, sisters, brothers, mailmen, hamsters, crossing guards, Twitter pals, bartenders, dog walkers, boyfriends, girlfriends, grandmas, bosses (be careful with that one), CVS cashiers, face waxers, and anybody else the heart pitter-patters for. Leave no one unloved.
3. MARCH—SEND SNAIL MAIL
Remember handwritten letters? The excitement of seeing the wonky/bubbly/scribble-y penmanship on an envelope never went away, it just stopped happening. Email has replaced this sentimental art. In a world of cyber multi-taskers, sending a message is hardly a personal gesture anymore. Write snail mail this month to as many people as possible. Wake up the warm fuzzies. Say hello with a stamp. Find a pen that works.
4. APRIL—BE CLASSY
Back during school days, learning was enforced. And while photosynthesis will rarely come up in an adult conversation and finding a square root seems like something featured on a cooking show, people are better for having learned that stuff. Do more of that. Learn some more “stuff.” Take a class. Learn to walk backwards while yodeling. Learn to debone a chicken. Learn to French braid like Becky, the coolest girl in sixth grade. Just learn new stuff.
5. MAY—DON’T SAY “NO”
Fight the urge to be a homebody this month. Getting off the couch can be hard sometimes, but saying “yes” more often results in 95% more fun. (Full disclosure: this is a made up statistic.) The point is, get out and do things. Be interesting. Say YES. Go to the show. See the movie. Do Zumba with Mom.
6. JUNE—BE A TOURIST AT HOME
Why only take advantage of what home has to offer when visitors are in town? It’s like, “Hey, this city is sooooo awesome! Look at this…and that…and whatever that is!” But this, and that, and whatever that is have been there for years, unvisited. So get out there. Make footprints. Take cheesy photos. Humans are just visitors on this earth anyway.
7. JULY—REVISIT CHILDHOOD
Admit it, adults are a bit cynical. A bit un-curious. A bit…lame. For one month only, get excited about everything. Climb trees. Dance for no reason. Be a kid again. Do at least one kid-like thing per week. Ready? GO!
8. AUGUST—BE SOMEONE ELSE.
“The usual.” It’s safe, it’s dependable, it’s…boring. There’s a comfort in always doing the same thing: the ending will never be a surprise. Change the ending this week. Don’t have the daily cup of joe. Don’t take the well-traveled path. Don’t be “the usual.” The most delightful things happen at the least planned times.
9. SEPTEMBER—PLAY MEMORY
Think of a favorite memory each week. Reach out to the people who were involved. It’s surprising to see it from a different viewpoint, to rehash the hash, to fill in some blanks that were never even visible. It’s like a super tiny high school reunion involving only the ones who matter most.
10. OCTOBER—SMACK FEAR IN THE FACE
Dig down deep and write down anything that seems scary. Talk to people about it. Open up. Maybe even do some research—and then face as many of those fears as possible. It’s amazing how quickly a silly fear can turn into a major accomplishment.
11. NOVEMBER—BE NICE
This month is about giving, even though it’s usually spent gnawing on turkey and some form of potato. Think of ways to help anybody and everybody. Babysit for free, donate to a charity, tie someone else’s shoes. Just give, give, and then give some more.
12. DECEMBER—BRING BACK THE MIX TAPE
Cassette tapes might be dead, but that doesn’t mean mix tapes have to be buried. Remember that excitement of receiving a scribble-y new mix tape from a friend or a foxy crush? Or how good it felt to make a killer soundtrack for someone else? Hours were spent creating the perfect order, the perfect mood, the perfect secret message. Do it again. Send some love, music-style.
Want to take the challenge? Visit We Hope You Like This Song on Facebook each month for tips, inspiration, and words of encouragement. To learn more about We Hope You Like This Song or Bree Housley, visit the Seal Press website.
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About Seal Press Seal Press was founded in 1976 to provide a forum for women writers and feminist issues. Since then, Seal has published groundbreaking books that represent the diverse voices and interests of women—their lives, literature, and concerns. Seal's authors are radical and original thinkers, professionals with a distinct point of view, gutsy explorers, truth-tellers, and writers who engender laughter, tears, and rage. Seal Press publishes books with the goal of informing women’s lives. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Seal is a member of the Perseus Books Group. To learn more, visit the Seal Press website.