How to Achieve Better Health in the Coming Year

Like most of us, you probably made at least a few resolutions as the calendar flipped over from 2019 to 2020. You made plans to accumulate wealth, improve your health, expand your social circles or improve your existing relationships. Maybe your goals were vast and vaguely nebulous. Maybe you put together some very detailed and specific plans. Now that the year is a few weeks old, how are those resolutions going for you?

If you’re like most people, you likely started strong but now you’re starting to feel the urge to slack. Maybe you’ve already made a concession or two. It happens to even the most dedicated and stubborn among us. Here are the reasons why so many of us start to falter on our resolutions so quickly.

Going It Alone

None of us is an island. We all know this. Even so, most of us tend to approach our resolutions all by ourselves. This is particularly true of resolutions involving our health. For example, someone may resolve to quit drinking by attempting to go cold turkey on January 1. That might work for a few days but if you don’t have anybody rooting for you or who you can lean on in your weaker moments, you’ll most likely relapse before the calendar flips its first month’s page.

Instead of trying to improve your health all on your own, find a buddy. If you’re dealing with serious health issues like addiction or a chronic illness, it’s best to enter a drug detox program or find a specialist who deals with your specific illness. Doctors and therapists can help you put together a solid plan for treating your condition as well as follow-ups to make sure you stay on track.

Little Goals

Speaking of plans, while having an overarching end goal is all well and good, you’ll have a greater chance of success if you include some details. Think of it like putting together a road map for your year.

The easiest way to do this, believe it or not, is to start with your end goal and then work your way backward. For example, if you want to save a thousand dollars by the end of the year, figure out how much you will have to set aside each week in order to meet that goal (a little less than twenty bucks, in case you were curious). Smaller goals are easier to achieve and will help you build momentum toward your actual resolution.

Tracking Matters

It’s one thing to feel like you are (or aren’t) making any progress toward your goals. By having a list of items you can check off or data you can track, however, you take the guess-work out of it. It’s not about how you feel, it’s about measurable progress.

For example, let’s say that you want to lose 50 pounds of body weight or shrink your waistline by a few inches by the end of the year. Many of the fad diets will tell you that you should avoid your scale or your measuring tape. We think you should do the exact opposite. Weigh and/or measure yourself every week with as much accuracy as possible. Log your numbers in a spreadsheet or an app so that you can literally see the numbers going down over time. This will help you stay the course even when you feel like nothing you’re doing is working.

We all want to end the year better off than we started it. Unfortunately, most of us try to go it alone and only use vague ideas and feelings to guide us along the way. By finding an accountability partner or a professional to help you, setting manageable goals and focusing on your data you’ll have a much better chance of actually achieving the goals you set for yourself. Good luck!

Home Decorating Trends of 2020

A new year and a new decade provide the perfect opportunity to make changes in your life and your home. Perhaps you are looking to update the color palate, add some new art and accents, or undergo a full kitchen remodel. Whether you want to make a bold statement or just do a little sprucing up, let these home decorating trends of 2020 offer some inspiration.

Home Design and Decor Elements

The latest design concept of Biophilia utilizes both human and natural elements. The idea is to make the space feel warm and inviting using sustainable materials. The use of recycled wood and reclaimed pieces also promotes an environmentally friendly home. Organic elements such as wood, stone and metal make it feel relaxed and seem like you are getting back to nature.

Some designers are now leaning away from the minimalist home decorating trends. Maximalism is all about embracing the grandiose. This translates into bright colors and pieces that convey grandeur. Professionals suggest choosing a few  specific pieces to showcase. Otherwise, you home could feel busy or cluttered.

Color Palates and Patterns

The Pantone color of the year for 2020 is Classic Blue. Expect to see designers incorporating this versatile shade of navy into their design elements, fabrics and decor. Navy provides a striking contrast which is another popular home decorating trend for the new year. If Classic Blue seems too strong a choice, the return of earth tones and neutral shades helps create a more subdued and natural ambiance.

Geometric patterns are still very popular, so consider adding them as an accent.  You can easily find fabrics and wallpapers in a variety of patterns. Just be cautious not to overdo it. This may create clashing patterns or optical illusions that induce migraines.

Floral wallpapers and accent walls will also be making resurgence in 2020. These have been around forever, but like other trends this year, it has a modernized twist. There will be larger scale, more vibrant colors, and metallic paper. It will be a particularly fashionable to put in foyers and powder rooms. Try stick-on options if you feel uncertain or unready to commit.

Vintage Home Decorating Trends

Just like fashion, home decorating trends go in cycles. This means your family heirlooms and pieces from the turn of the century are back in style. Furnishings with spindles, spool legs, and imperfect leather are hot ticket items. Other trendy vintage furnishings this year include free-standing claw-foot tubs and canopy beds.

When choosing your décor, think worn and weathered. Designers have a new appreciation of items that looked aged or have a patina. You will find many restored pieces for sale and distressing techniques for those who prefer to do it yourself. Earthenware such as clay, terracotta, and ceramic are another great way to add character to a space. Antique art is also making huge comeback, so keep an eye out for unique artwork to enrich your home.

Whatever your style or taste, this year’s home decorating trends blend the old with the new. It provides the perfect way to display your favorite antiques in a new, bolder light.

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Home Decorating Trends of 2020

Let the home decorating trends of 2020 inspire your next home makeover!


Teach English Abroad to get out of Debt

Teaching Abroad to get out of Debt

Some people spend their entire lives searching for their purpose in this world.  Although I have ventured down other career paths, I always find myself back at the same conclusion. I was born to be a teacher and have an innate passion for education. However, the American education system fails to pay teachers a livable wage. Many teachers choose to teach English abroad to help them get out of debt.

The Struggle of Student Debt

Any college student can tell you that a good education does not come cheap. My scholarships and financial aid covered a large portion of my tuition. However, I was still left with a large amount of debt to settle each semester. I had no desire to take out more loans, so I worked several part-time jobs and pushed myself to graduate early.

I also had the unfortunate luck of graduating the same year as the mortgage crisis. Being a part of the so-called “unluckiest generation” meant we were plagued with the burden of student debt, high unemployment rates, and slow economic growth. I  received a few job offers after graduation, but nothing that offered much hope to get out of debt. The teaching jobs were in the worst school districts and the salaries were on par with fast food workers. There was no possible way I could afford my rent working a single job, let alone build savings.

The Teaching Path Less Traveled

I sought advice from my mentors and family, unsure which direction to go. I ultimately decided that it was not in my best interest to accept such a low paying job. Rather than working a full-time teaching job and continuing my part-time side work, I chose to enroll in a graduate program abroad. While this meant accruing more debt in my pursuit of higher learning, I was able to finish my master’s degree in only two years at a fraction of the cost. My post-graduate degree also opened a myriad of doors that led me to other opportunities I had not even considered.

In my final months, I met some foreign exchange students who planned to use their diplomas to teach English abroad. We were all disenchanted with the unfulfilled promises of a college degree. The prospect piqued my interest, but the opportunity, salaries, and benefits packages seemed too good to be true. I had no desire to return to the United States to work a minimum wage job or live in my parents basement. I returned home with a sense of cautious optimism and a burgeoning plan.

Teach English Abroad

I spent months comparing job offers in Latin America, Europe and Asia. I agonized over my decision before I realized it was time to stop dreaming and make it a reality. Ten years later, I can tell you  that it was the best financial decision I have ever made. While some postings are definitely better on paper, many ESL jobs offer competitive wages, free accommodations, flight reimbursements, and national health care.

By comparison, Asia offers the highest salaries with the lowest cost of living. This means you can maximize your savings and pay off your debts without resorting to a diet of instant noodles or a life of social hermitage. I was personally able to pay off all my credit card debts and student loans in my first year living in Taiwan, and have built a healthy nest egg that has allowed me to start planning for a more comfortable future.

Where to Start

The starting salaries for teaching English abroad differ from country to country.  Graduate degrees and certifications also secure better pay. Currently, the highest paying jobs for English teachers are in Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The best paying teaching positions will likely take you to exotic and remote locales, but there are still decent positions in popular tourist destinations like Thailand and Vietnam. Some countries in the Middle East even offer contracts that pay up to $80,000 for only nine months of work if you are brave enough to travel there.

It was a difficult decision to teach abroad, but for me it provided the keys to my financial freedom. Many English teachers only spend a year or two before returning home to find employment, but I have chosen to make a career of teaching English overseas. I have been able to pay off all my debts, save nearly $1,000 each month,  have affordable health care and am rarely required to work more than 30 hours each week. While this may not be an ideal solution for everyone, it provided a clear path out of debt and helped me gain control of my life and finances.

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