Little Ways To Give Yourself A Fresh Start

by Gina M. Florio

Even if your inner cynic rolls her eyes at the idea, the New Year is a useful time to give yourself a fresh start. A clean slate, if you will. You can think about all the things that didn't work out for you in the last year, shed them, and start anew.

When it comes to fresh starts, the New Year is so useful because it's something called a temporal landmark. A temporal landmark is a specific time or date, much like a birthday or holiday, that helps to structure our perception of time. Research conducted by behavioral scientists at Washington University in St. Louis and University of Pennsylvania claim that temporal landmarks allow us to see the bigger picture and motivate us to adopt aspirational behaviors, like eating healthier and spending more quality time with our loved ones.

Think of it this way: Temporal landmarks are the bridge between our current not-so-great behaviors (cocktails and takeout most nights) to the behaviors we want to live a more fulfilling life (more vacation time, less stress). So you'd be silly if you didn't take advantage of the New Year and wipe your slate at least a little clean. Science shows that it's truly a motivating time in which you can form beneficial habits and accomplish a lot of good for yourself.

With that in mind, here are eight little ways to give yourself a fresh start in the New Year.

Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app.

You don't just wake up one day, organized. It takes daily effort to keep everything in order, and you need something tangible that will help you along the way. Instead of relying on your mind or already-overly-pinging phone to remember your meetings and shopping list, start writing everything down in a little notebook you genuinely like opening up.

Not all planners are created equally. Some are lifeless, which doesn't leave you with much motivation to whip it out every morning and plan your day. So choose a brand-new planner for 2017 that's full of personality. Make sure it suits all your needs and that you like the look of it, because then it will actually get used. (This Day Designer on Amazon is my personal favorite, for what it's worth.)

Finally, if you had one of those 18-month planners that you're carrying from 2016 into the New Year, consider ceremoniously burning it and starting from scratch with a 2017 one. Talk about a fresh start.

The kind of space you inhabit every single day makes a big difference in how motivated you feel on a daily basis. Adjusting the feng shui in your home can assist you in creating a fresh start for yourself, while simultaneously giving you the opportunity to express yourself. Visit your favorite vintage shop and see if there's any artwork you fall in love with. Even if it's a few small pieces, giving your bare walls a little love can go a long way.

This is a great way to declutter your house. Books are sometimes way harder to get rid of than old clothes, but your overflowing library isn't doing you any favors, especially if you don't actually read the stuff you've got on those shelves. Collect all the books you've already read and you're pretty sure you won't read again anytime soon (be honest). Sell those suckers online and make some extra cash for yourself.

Now, make a little stack of books you've had in your possession for some time but just haven't read yet. Make a vow to yourself that you won't buy anymore books until you've finished these. And just like that, you've got a 2017 reading list — at no extra charge.

We all have a bad habit of saving a boatload of pictures in our phones that we think will be useful one day. When you really look at your photo library, though, you'll probably find hundreds of pointless frames that are doing nothing more than taking up memory space. Take a few minutes at the start of the year to delete duplicate selfies, pictures of your weekend dinners, and snapshots of your passive aggressive ex.

If you have trouble letting go, consider buying a device like Picture Keeper, which lets you back up all your photos easily to its accompanying app, where they can live happily off your phone forever.

Ring in 2017 with a clear mind and a clean phone. After you've deleted half of your photo library, turn to the long list of apps you have on there, because the truth is, according a study conducted by comScore, you're only using about three apps on the regular. (The top three apps being used are Facebook, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger.)

Whatever your personal top three are, though, you're using them 80 percent of the time, so do an inventory and see how many apps can be deleted. Because decluttering your phone feels almost as good as emptying out half of your closet.

There's nothing like a social media cleanse to get you pumped up for the next year. Places like Twitter and Facebook have unfortunately become tiring battlegrounds for many people online these days. Feminist, author, and body positive activist Lindy West announced in a post for the Guardian this week that she deactivated her vibrant Twitter account because, for her, it's turned into a platform that's unusable "for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators." We were shattered to hear about her exit, because she was one of the most unique, relevant voices on Twitter, but we totally understand.

Similarly, if you're feeling particularly exhausted from your own time on social media, start by identifying the source of the problem. Ask yourself which friends or followers are causing you grief, whether it's through demeaning comments, or posts of their own that trigger you to feel judgmental about yourself. Unfollow the people whose values don't align with yours, because you should be surrounded by individuals online who lift you up.

The first things we ask ourselves when we're making New Year's resolutions is, "How can we make our lives better?" Mix things up this year and also ask what you can do to improve other people's lives, particularly those who are less fortunate than you are.

Taking on a new hobby or activity is the perfect way to feel like you're starting over. Devoting your time (and/or money) to a cause you believe in will not only give you something new and exciting to add to your schedule, but it will make you feel like you're making a difference — which you are. There are all kinds of organizations you can get involved in, whether you're interested in helping abandoned animals or distributing menstrual hygiene products to homeless individuals. All you have to do is some simple research to find the right fit for you.

Forget juices and cleanses. Rather than restricting yourself from eating any food in the New Year, just hit the reset button on your kitchen. There are probably all kinds of weird leftovers living in your fridge that are rotting away, just like there's some expired stuff sitting in your cupboard that you really shouldn't eat (if you want to avoid diarrhea, anyway).

At the start of the year, take an hour or two on a weekend morning and purge your kitchen of all the food you know you won't be eating. That might also mean you get rid of some junk food you know makes you feel gross. Go with your gut. Wipe down the shelves in your fridge, dust the pantry, and organize your spices. Just like that, you've got a brand-new kitchen. You'll be more inspired than ever to cook and bake your way through 2017.

Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App every day in January for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.