There are dozens of articles, opinions, and websites out there that tend to focus on the usual list of resolutions each and every time we near the end of a calendar year. And every time, you and I get suckered into either making our own lists of weight loss, career changes or ending bad habits.

This year, I have decided that I want to focus on 5 key areas of my life that I feel will better my existence on this planet with two primary objectives – will it make me a better person, and will it impact others positively.

  1. Tap out

2016 is the year I take more time off and go on adventures. Everyone else out there is intent to make more money, but why sacrifice enjoyment of life for an extra buck or three? For me, this means downscaling my day-to-day expenses and lifestyle, and putting a scheduled amount of money away as a part of my household monthly budget. Getting out of the rat race from time to time will not only help me to recharge but I know as a husband & father, I will de-stress and use the time to adventure with my sons. Practically, this means scheduling long weekends or holiday trips in my diary now, and treating these ‘appointments’ as importantly as a business meeting – i.e. proper planning, saving, and commitment. I want to tackle these opportunities with the same motivation and gusto as a big board meeting or client pitch.

  1. Change one person’s life

I don’t mean give someone a bag of my old clothes, nor do I mean give a substantial amount of money away. What I want to do is to truly affect someone’s life for the good that will irrevocably change their course or path. It’s time I did for someone else what was done for me – help them over a period of time, not just once-off, but to achieve something, to create a launch pad, to take their current life from one level to a substantially higher one. The first person I’m going to help is my boys’ nanny, Ayanda. And the only way to truly help someone is to begin talking to them to really discover what their dreams & desires for this life are. Ayanda is 23 years old, smart, energetic and educated. Her dream is to become a police woman yet the ‘only’ hurdle is that she does not possess a driving license. For her, this requires a substantial amount of money & time – both of which she does not have. I have decided that I can help in both areas by paying for her license tests and giving her the time off, as well as dedicating some time to her in my own personal vehicle to help give her that edge when she does go for the final driving test. Upon obtaining a valid driving license, we can then begin the process of applying to the South African Police Service and celebrating with her when she finally sees her dream turn to reality.

  1. Be more patient

It’s not just at home with my two sons but it’s to be more patient in our growing democracy in South Africa. As a parent, it’s easier to liken our post-Apartheid government to a new human being. It began in 1994 with a beautiful new-born that gave us all a reason to take a thousand photographs of every moment, and even when there were tears, we seemed to be so much more loving. As our democracy has grown up over the years and entered the teenage years, we have become more frustrated with a ‘know-all’ attitude and certain rebelliousness that has made us angry at times. Now that we are a young adult, the expectancy is that we make wise, informed decisions. Instead, at times, our government has made poor, impulsive decisions that have caused some serious problems.

I’m not trying to start any political debates or arguments here, but what I am trying to give thought to, is the fact that we are still a very young democracy and that we all need to play our own small part in raising this beautiful country to its full potential. For me, this means having more patience and remembering the old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise to a child.

  1. Read

I realised the other day when speaking to a young varsity student that reading books seems to be on the verge of extinction. Even when I was at school, I seemed to be in the minority when it came to reading novels. As time has gone by and life has gotten busier, weeks or even months will go by before I go back to that folded page corner in the book next to my bed. Reading impacts how we communicate and has more of an influence on our self-confidence than we think. The education factor aside, reading has always felt like it has given me the edge when it comes to confidence, knowing that I can hold my own when it comes to conversations in most social circles. Lately however, I feel the desire to read more biographies and books on finance & socio economic studies as these allow us to understand the undercurrents, trends and reasons behind vast global movements. We are no longer isolated and the world is your online oyster – reading helps you to know more.

  1. Eat less sugar

Banting, LCHF (Low Carb High Fat), Paleo, Atkins – you name it, there are a dozen diets out there but the one thing they all seem to have in common, is the reduction, or even elimination of refined sugar from our daily diets. I am a bonafide sugar addict – chocolates are my kryptonite and unravel any potential I have of chiseling a six-pack. But worse than that, studies are proving that Diabetes will be among the top 5 causes of death globally, within the next 14 years. Refined sugar is added to almost all off-the-shelf foods and further studies also suggest that this sugar is a catalyst to the onset of major cancers. Sugar, it would seem, is the 21st century devil. I intend on becoming more religious in my consumption of this lustful commodity.

My challenge to you – don’t make resolutions for the new year, make life changes that run deeper than just the normal beauty-inspired lists.

Ghandi

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