I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions as I only end up disappointing myself. Plus, I think if you really want to change something about your life then you should do it immediately, not wait for the oft-underwhelming chime of midnight on January 1st.
That being said, there are a few things that I tell myself I'd like to do more of each year; more reading, more writing, more creating, more learning - stuff that will make me somewhat more of an interesting person to enter into a conversation with. I think it's good to try and be the best that you can be and a little to-do list is great for noting down the steps you need to take to get there.
I've got a confession. The top of my list never changes.
Number one, every year, without a doubt, is travel; more exploring, more discovering, more places, more cultures. Why? Here's why:
Travel teaches you things you can't learn from a book (or the internet)
The dry, lifeless pages of a book can provide you with hard facts and the experiences of other people, but it doesn't come close to getting out there and doing it for yourself. Learning about a places' history, its people, and its customs on-site is a million times more valuable than a quick scan of Wikipedia. You get to meet locals and hear their views firsthand, experience cultural customs in the flesh, and expand your knowledge of the world. Most importantly, maybe, travel teaches you about yourself. Stepping out of your daily routine and away from home comforts can really give you an insight into who you are, and who you want to become.
Travel inspires creativity
Learning how different places do different things provides travellers with a new perspective; a new way of looking at things. If you find your creativity has been stalled by the rigorous grind of daily life or your too-familiar surroundings, a short trip away can instantly open your mind to new ways of thinking which, in turn, inspires the creative beast inside you.
Travel improves your performance at work
We all get bogged down with work; it's as simple as that. It's the thing we spend most time doing in our lives and it takes up a huge chunk of our time. It's difficult not to worry about it if you look at it like that. It's been proven, though, that the build up to a trip instantly puts you in a more positive mood, meaning you are more likely to happily get on with your work and less likely to sit festering for eight hours a day. Plus, the time away experiencing new things opens your eyes to the wider world and makes you see that work isn't everything. This immediately improves your relationship with your work when you realise that it's not the be all and end all.
Travel boosts your confidence
There's nothing quite like being in an unfamiliar place, not being able to speak the language, and unsure of how to get to your accommodation for bringing your confidence down (yes, I did mean bring it down). Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy but once you realise you can do it and don't pass out/die/think the world has ended, I guarantee you will find yourself becoming more confident in many areas of your life.
Travel makes time go slower
If I had a penny for every time someone mentioned how quickly 2013 went...
Obviously, it's impossible to stop time and, whether we like it or not, it's going to keep ticking away right until the very end (and even then it will carry on ticking afterwards). But the way the brain processes time is interesting. Instead of logging seconds and minutes, it logs experiences.
When you do something every day and know how to do it with your eyes shut, your brain essentially 'speeds it up' because it doesn't need to concentrate on it. In contrast, when you're doing something new for the first time, your brain 'slows down' the experience because it's logging every moment for future use. Ergo, if you're doing lots of fun new things in an unfamiliar place, time will go slower and I won't have to listen to 'I can't believe how quickly 2014 went' as much at the end of the year.
You don't have to spend thousands of pounds going to farflung places for weeks on end, but even a short weekend away in a neighbouring city can help you start to see the benefits that travel can have on your 2014 and every year after.
This is just a starting point to get the cogs whirring in your brain; travel is, in fact, a great tool for many other things. Can you think of any more?Suggest a correction