Finally, 2016 is almost over.  It’s certainly been a difficult year for many, and the biggest take-away for me is a very simple one: there is so much that is just outside of our direct control.  As frustrating as that fact may be, the sooner you can accept it, the sooner you can focus on that which is within your control.  With that in mind, here are 4 key areas in our lives that we can strive to improve upon in the new year:

1. Physical Health– How comfortable are you with your own body? If you want to lose weight or tone your muscles, change your workout or maybe even get some medical intervention to fix things you don’t like about yourself, go do it! Focus on yourself for a bit, and don’t feel guilty about it. The great thing about setting physical goals is that within a short period of time you can really start to see results, and this will boost your spirits greatly. The undisputed fact is the more positive your energy is, the faster you will recover from whatever heart break or disappointment comes your way.

2. Intellectual Stimulation– Are you bored at work or at home? Having a great mind is a gift you should not squander. We all suffer lulls either at home or at our jobs, but rather than allow your brain to just atrophy find something new to learn and challenge yourself. Learn a new language online or in a classroom, sign up for continuing education courses that will either help you advance in your career or maybe assist you with changing jobs. Or maybe it would be fun to teach? Volunteering to teach kids is a great way to give back and connect with your community, and the questions they ask are so insightful.

3.Emotional Intelligence– I’ve met a lot of brilliant people with the emotional IQ of a pea. Seriously, there is not a single person I know that can claim to have mastered emotional intelligence, and that is because it is a work in progress, and we are all constantly learning as we react to different environments, experiences and life challenges. If you truly want to improve your relationships with others, there are tons of great life coaches for one-on one sessions, seminars for those seeking a group setting, or there is always the library (or internet) full of books on psychology and spirituality.

4. Fiscal Responsibility– It’s easy to get sloppy with money, especially the more you make, which is why it is important to audit yourself at least once a year.  Are your expenses reasonable, or are you are living beyond your means?  Are you saving enough, not just in your 401(k), but in a liquid account in case you get laid off or have an emergency?  Don’t ignore money problems– sticking your head in the sand only has a tendency to make them get worse, not better.  Furthermore, it simply isn’t healthy to have financial instability in your life and can cause major havoc in your relationships with loved ones, particularly if your irresponsibility has a direct impact on them.

Whatever your New Year’s Resolution is for 2017, make sure you come up with a realistic plan to accomplish your goal(s) and try to build in some rewards in intervals throughout the year for staying on target.  While no one knows what the new year has in store for any of us, we can all focus on those things that are completely within our control and are most likely to result in great personal satisfaction regardless of the trials and tribulations that lie ahead.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.