Ten New-Years Resolutions you should make in 2009Written by Kirk, Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 in Finance, Getting Things Done
2009 is going to be a different year. For most of us in the West, the economy has gone to hell in a handbasket- leaving many of us without jobs or fighting for those we have. Socially, the world is changing- especially in the US, where the entire government has been handed over to the opposite party and subcultures are growing and growing. This year, seemingly moreso than 2009, is going to be a year about recovery and optimization- making ourselves more better than we were before to weather any kind of economic or social situation.
Frankly, there is very little room for error in the West anymore. Where a few years ago one may be able to survive (to some degree) without a job and with a lot of room for error schooling-wise, we are no longer going to have such freedom. Many college graduates are very quickly learning that there simply aren’t that many jobs anymore- and many budding entrepreneurs are learning there isn’t the money to hire anyone anyway.
In a world like this, the strongest and the most savvy will survive- and when it comes to this sort of competition, being a well cultured individual will save you every time. Knowing how to look professional, dress well, handle yourself in a pleasant way and how to excel at your job is crucial- and here are ten new years resolutions you should follow to do just that.
10- Clean your life “history” now.
Few people really realize how much information can be found out via the Internet, especially by employers. Personally, a variety of information can be found out about me- from my school to even some of my political affiliations, people I’ve worked for, old friends, and embarrassing overweight pictures of myself. The worst thing is, a savvy individual can find some horrible stuff on me- namely, some posts about me from an old stalker, and an accusation of me being a mentally deranged homosexual. These constitute what I call a life “history” online- and just like your internet browser history, they can be fairly normal or very embarrassing, depending on what you do and how much you make public.
If you can, “optimize” your history. Get rid of old forum accounts. Delete old blogs. Remove (or untag yourself from) old photos on Facebook. Make sure no-one is talking about you, if you can help it. There’s nothing wrong with having accounts on websites, just realize that if they connect with your real name, they can harm you- which is why people often joke your name on the internet is a “Power Word”.
Worst case scenario, there are “cleanup” companies that specialize in fixing issues like unsatisfactory posts and the like. Employ them if you must.
9- Build connections everywhere.
Connections are how most people become rich, not by pure savvy. Sure, having intelligence is important- but knowing the right people who can help you (and who you can help in return) is incredibly important.
One of the easiest ways you can build a connection is to make yourself an address book- be it online, written out, or even on your cell phone. Websites like Linkedin and Facebook help, but not everyone in the world is on there- find a somewhat neutral way of cateloging who you know, from where, and their contact info. Store business cards, if you have to.
Remember, though, you have to reciprocate the help you get. Be willing to help out friends- use your skills for their benefit. Really good business connections are made on mutual need, not necessarily on your ability to exploit the other person into getting you what you need.
8- Date more.
I’m very serious. This will help you.
Dating is marketing yourself, no matter what others may say- just, instead of asking the other person to hire you and give you money, you are asking the other person to like you. Dating lets you refine the skill of marketing yourself- both in the sense of getting to know others conversationally (understanding how to be social with near-strangers), but also understanding yourself a bit better- and how to explain yourself to others. You’ll also find yourself less nervous about interviews and other kinds of meetings- if you know how to woo women correctly, you shouldn’t be too worried about being causally friends with men.
As well, the bonus is you could always find an awesome girl- there’s nothing wrong with finding a girlfriend for 2009.
7- Optimize your computer to get things done.
This is the fun geeky part of the resolutions.
Optimize your computer for work. Sure, we all absolutely love to optimize our computers for play- cleaning up our harddrives and buying new parts for faster gaming- but there’s also a benefit to optimization to get things done.
First off, provide yourself simplified ways to manage your e-mail and calendar. Google provides a lot of these tools for free and in high quality- both Gmail and Google Calendar are excellent tools for management. Google Calendar, my personal favorite, allows you to not only make your own calendar, but share them with other users- synchronizing youself with everything from school schedules to football games.
As well, organize and back up your work. For both schoolwork and literal work, make an organization system that will allow you to store your files safely and in a way where you will know where they are. I personally find that my best method is to have a separate hard drive in my PC devoted entirely to bulk storage- allowing me to reformat and play around on my main hard drive without worrying about where my other files are. This also often saves my rear when I destroy Windows in some way or other.
Oh yes, and if you do decide to optimize your computer, as one geek to another, keep or rollback to Windows XP if at all humanly possible. Despite recent advertisements, Vista is not a productivity system whatsoever. Worst case scenario, if you cannot find XP drivers for your system, consider some flavor of Linux.
6- Go to school- or get certificates for what you already know.
Unless you have already gone, if you are not currently in a form of College/University, you need to apply pronto. As I have often mentioned, High School educations simply do not cut it anymore for jobs- you need to specialize and be smarter. Some people can certainly find jobs after highschool because of their skill- but for the average joe, that sort of luck rarely comes. Get a degree in something- and study your ass off for a good GPA. There are many companies now that do not even briefly consider potential hires unless they have the minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.
Some people are surprised at the ridiculous amounts of accrediation you can get for very little work. Many certifications- computer certifications such as the A+ Certification, various personal trainer certifications, and other similar certificates can be had for relatively cheap. These boost a resume for virtually any job, and always provide an extremely good way to make extra cash on the side.
5- Make more money- put your skills to work.
As I mentioned above, easy skills can be a great cash crop. Personally, I have found that basic tech support and design work provide me a steady stream of extra money for clothes, dates, and other kinds of frivolities- as well as a great way to augment rent if I need to.
Your “skill” doesn’t even have to be something incredibly complex- there are many party planning companies and restaurants that sometimes need extra hosts. If you have the looks for it (or the lack of self-respect to do horrible fetish photography), modeling is a very reasonable way to make cash.
What I will say, though, is to be careful. From the work I’ve done, as well as hearing stories from friends, there are many scams that exist for temps- not paying the right amount, expecting more than they listed, and that sort of thing. Always have something in writing- even an e-mail or two confirming the job and the pay- to back yourself up.
4- Eat healthier- no more junk food, period.
There have been countless articles posted online and published in newspapers/magazines about junk food and it’s bad effects, yet it still is purchased by the proverbial truckload by the average family. This is ridiculous. While sweets and chips are fine in moderation, you may not really realize how many calories, grams of fat and grams of sugar you are ingesting every day from a casual snack- and how much effect it has on your system.
Eating poorly makes you sluggish, irritable, sleepy (but often makes it harder to actually fall asleep), sexually weak, and it can give you horrible skin. Worst of all, it makes you fat. Why eat it?
Eat junk food in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with having a bag of chips or a soda every now and then- just don’t go overboard. If you eat a lot of junk food (say, during a Christmas party), exercise it off- don’t consider it a lost cause. Sometimes, the best way to ensure you don’t eat it is to simply not buy it- and, in the long run, it will save you money, too.
3- Dress better- buy clothes that are eternally stylish.
Of course, this being a fashion website, we always love talking about new fashions and how to wear them- it’s our “thing”. The problem is, with the economy going to hell, it’s hard to buy good fashions that are actually affordable.
The answer to this is twofold. First off, go for sales. With the economy as bad as it is, many clotheirs are cutting back their prices and holding sales like crazy- take advantage of them. I’ve seen $300 jackets go for $50 this Christmas- a bad thing for retailers but a good thing for you.
The second part of the answer is that you should buy long-lasting, not transient, fashions. Well-made suits, leather shoes, high quality jeans, and nice coats are all the kinds of clothing that will last you years- so buy them well and in fashions that are established, not extremely cutting-edge. Modernize your wardrobe with a few small pieces, but largely keep yourself traditional in fit and style- doing so will allow the clothing to truly last years, rather than look outdated in one or two.
2- Start a weekly exercise routine- preferably three times a week.
The reverse of junk food- exercising makes you look good and feel good. Beyond just being fit, exercising will make you look better (both in clothing and naked), it will give you more energy, allow you to focus more, and in general will make you a better person overall.
Of course, don’t get into a “rut” by focusing exclusively on weight lifting or running- branch out and make your routine encompass a little bit of everything. Fundamentally, you should try working on a little bit of the “big three”- strength, stamina, and flexibility- by finding activities and exercises to promote all three, rather than one or two. If you exclusively weight lift, try to build in some cardio as well- you’ll find it beneficial both to your weight lifting stamina and to help slim fat off your body- and if you do nothing but cardio, try weight lifting to blast away pudginess and show lean muscle off.
1- Manage your money.
Obviously, I’ve been mentioning money a lot this post, and number one is all about money.
No matter how old you are or what financial situation you are in, it is imperitive that you begin to manage your money closely. Know where your money is coming from and where it is going- and keep it from blasting away on ridiculous expenditures.
One very important thing all people over 18 should work on is building credit. Even if you do not need one, having a credit card (and using it for a small expenditure monthly) is a great way to build up a credit score and prove you can handle small term loans. This will help immensely in the future with larger loans- such as car loans or home loans- which often require you have a demonstrated history of, in colloquial terms, “trustability”.
Arguably the easiest way to manage your finances is to buy cheap and only when you must. Other than things you absolutely must have (groceries, a roof over your head, etc), there are many things you simply do not need to spend so much money on. If you can manage it, avoid paying monthly fees for video games, upper-tier cable channels, personal trainers, and other amenities, especially if you do not use them.
I’ve listed a ridiculous amount of pointers today, but my point is incredibly simple: manage yourself tightly this year. 2009 is going to be a year of tight funds and even tighter employers- so you will have to bend to avoid breaking, if you pardon the metaphor. I can guarantee that even if you pick up one of these resolutions, 2009 will be just a little bit simpler- and hopefully, we’ll all survive just a bit better than the next guy.