Don’t Set New Year’s Resolutions Show 32

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Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal ran article entitled, For New Year’s Resolutions, Never Think You’re Too Old to Become a Beginner.

New Year’s resolutions tend to get a bad reputation. I like to think of them as goals rather than resolutions. The word resolution carries more of a symbolic meaning, and the word goal carries more of striving context. Goals are more practical and applicable.

I love practical goals and metrics. Sometimes they disappointment me though. I’ll be vulnerable with you. I only achieved one of my goals in 2020, but that’s one more than if I’d not planned any! Right?

Sure, we can write 2020 off, but let’s face it: sometimes our goals don’t even come to fruition when everything goes perfectly in the world. Some of us get discouraged and avoid setting goals for the next year. That’s unfortunate, because we lose the fulfillment of being able to celebrate our successful goal completion.

It may be easier to have goals and aspirations when we are still working or were younger, but the Wall Street Journal article discussed the science of learning new things throughout our lives.

From the article, “Though the first steps can be difficult, it’s worth the effort: Becoming a beginner is one of the most life-enhancing things you can do.”

“A good starting point is to take up juggling. The innocuous little act of throwing balls into the air has been found, in a number of neuroscience studies, to alter the brain. This ‘activation-dependent structural plasticity,” as it’s called, pops up in as little as seven days. Juggling changes not only gray matter, the brain’s processing centers, but also white matter, the networked connections that bind it all together. “Learning a new skill requires the neural tissue to function in a new way,’ says Tobias Schmidt-Wilcke, a neuroscientist (and juggler) at Germany’s University of Bochum.”

It continues, “After that initial burst of activity, the brain settles down. By the time you can do the skill without much thinking—when it becomes automatic—gray matter density declines. So, you try a new juggling trick, and the process begins again. Interestingly, the changes in brain density happen for older people just as much as for younger people.”

We were designed to strive. It’s important to obtain new goals throughout our lifetime. Necessity created striving in the hunter gather days because your survival depended on it. You might have to hunt, fish, grow food, or raise animals among other things.

The idea is to always have the spirt of a beginner. The article explained the progression babies go through from crawling to walking. They spend a third of their day practicing and it still takes them months to master walking. But when they learn how to walk and not crawl it opens new opportunities for them. They no longer face down all the time and they can use their hands. In other words, learning new things opens new opportunity for us.

Five possible goals for 2021:

1. Set a reading goal

Reading can be a challenge with all of our distractions. If I find myself looking at my phone too much when I’m trying to read, I’ll take it in the next room and leave it there until I’ve read a chapter or read for 30 minutes. We all can succumb to reasons why we can’t, but strive to overcome obstacles.

From Research shows that regular reading:

  1. Improves brain connectivity.
  2. Increases your vocabulary and comprehension.
  3. Empowers you to empathize with other people.
  4. Aids in sleep readiness.
  5. Reduces stress.
  6. Lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
  7. Fights depression symptoms.
  8. Prevents cognitive decline as you age.


2. Walk outside for 30 minutes

You may have heard, but many of us are Vitamin D deficient. From “In the United States, 60% of nursing home residents and 57% of hospitalized patients were found to be vitamin D deficient. However, vitamin D insufficiency is not restricted to the elderly and hospitalized population; several studies have found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy, young adults.”
Vitamin D helps in an array of things and one easy way to get it is to be outside. Make a goal to go on a 30-minute walk. Bundle up if it’s cold. Just do it more days than you don’t do it.

3. Take a class

Have you ever wanted to learn Spanish or how to type? Did you know that if you are over 60 and live in SC or NC you can take classes at state schools with no tuition cost? Many of the classes community colleges offer are online classes. You could take the class from home.

 4. Volunteer

In Spartanburg there are countless non-profits that depend on volunteers. Carving out 30 minutes a week or couple hours a month can be beneficial. I volunteer with Jump Start. We mentor people who were recently released from prison.

Did you realize that we make about 35,000 decisions per day. Prisoners make about 6,000 per day. Once released, the decisions alone can be overwhelming. At Jump Start we come along side men and women to show them how to live responsibly and put God first in their lives.

5. Eat healthier

Perhaps try to eliminate a portion that you’d normally consume. Maybe give up soft drinks. Or maybe eat a salad more routinely. I’ve heard that our bodies spend more energy digesting food than they do anything else. This takes energy away from fighting inflammation and disease. There’s a push now towards intermittent fasting.

This is a quick list of things you may want to put on your goals list for 2021. Beginning new goals never goes out style! Strive to achieve something new this year.

Is one of your goals for 2021 to be better prepared for retirement? As always, you can use the link here to schedule a 15-minute call with me to discuss anything you have questions on.

Until next time,

David C. Treece,
Financial Advisor

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