With a new decade around the corner, everyone is reflecting on the past and thinking about what is to come. Here are 20 suggestions I have for you for the 2020s. (NOTE: #4 is a bit long, but please don’t give up because of it!)
1. ADOPT GREEN HABITS
I’m not even sure I have to include this one anymore. The world is rapidly moving toward an irreversible chain reaction of destructive events because of our emissions. If we don’t do something soon, we’ll be dead, literally. And soon means NOW! We have around ten years to turn this around. Here are a few suggestions: fly less, eat less meat, buy local and buy less, shop secondhand, use public transport… We’ve written a lot of articles about the environment so I want to keep this short, click here to view our previous articles on the subject.
2. LEARN HOW TO COOK A FEW MEALS
This is a mental note for me as well. We should all know how to cook a few meals for ourselves and for days in the future when we may have guests in our house. We need alternatives. Recipes that we can rely on, that we trust ourselves with.
I once tried to make a vegetarian lasagna with my sister and cousin. It took us two hours – and of course, we looked at a recipe every step of the way – but in the end, it was delicious and unique. I’m sure if we tried to make it a few more times we could master it. Have a few of these meals and congratulations! Another step in becoming more independent.
3. READ MORE BOOKS
Think about how many books you’ve read in the past year. Are you happy with that number? Probably not. Start by setting yourself a goal for next year.
If you’re reading this, you clearly are a person who reads articles and blog posts. Reading content online is beneficial but they can’t replace books, and I think we often forget this. I’m specifically talking about non-fiction books here – authors spend so much time researching, editing, fact-checking, etc. that it’s not even comparable to 99% of content online. So read books, not only articles.
4. PLANT TREES
One of the most effective ways of combatting climate change is planting trees. Research led by Swiss university ETF Zürich suggests that a worldwide planting program could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities that remain in the atmosphere today, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing.” This shouldn’t be surprising to us. One of the first things we are taught in science lessons at school is that trees take carbon dioxide and release oxygen. So we should be conserving forests and planting more trees, given that we lose about 75.7 thousand square kilometers of forests annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields per minute.
Some easy ways to plant more trees:
First of all: do it as a gift! Can we all agree that sending flowers to someone to congratulate them on something or as a get well soon gift is kind of useless?? We spend so much money on something that lasts for a few days. And the person we send them to probably receive others as well. They’re elegant, yes, but that’s about it. So just donate to an organization that will plant trees in the name of that person. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Secondly, incorporate planting trees into your everyday lives. How? For example, as a punishment for something you don’t do. I introduced a new rule in the magazine: all of us have to publish an article every month from now on. If we miss a month, we plant a certain number of trees. It’s a win-win situation. At least when the task is not done we help save the planet a little. If you have a goal of spending three hours at the gym every week and you spend two, then donate! This will encourage you to achieve your goals (surprise! trees cost money) but if you don’t achieve them, at least you’ll be doing good to the planet. I have so many other ideas about how to incorporate planting trees into your life, email me if you’d like to hear more!
5. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON AROUND THE WORLD
A lot is happening right now. It’s good to be informed about news from all around the world.
If only there was an Instagram account whose goal is to share news from everywhere… Without picking and choosing between countries… An account run by people who care about what goes on in every single country, not just the 10-20 countries we keep hearing about… OH WAIT! It exists. It’s called @9aroundtheworld and we’re running it with stories written by our international correspondents! We would appreciate it if you could give it a follow and spread the word 🙂
Additionally, make sure you are reading some form of news daily. Get online subscriptions to some newspapers, download their apps, follow them on social media… You can also subscribe to mailing lists of these newspapers. Watch their videos on youtube. Read comments. There’s a lot you can do. Get creative! If you’re extremely interested in a story, try to contact people that might have more information on the subject such as people who live where it happened.
6. TALK TO PEOPLE YOU LOVE
We often get so caught up in everyday tasks that we forget about people that matter to us. So if you’re thinking about someone you miss, call them! Send them a message! Ask to meet up! So many things you can do, act before it’s too late.
7. START EVERY DAY BY READING AN ARTICLE
I stole this one from my French teacher at school. She sends us an article a day before every class, we read it, and we talk about it the next morning. They aren’t usually about politics but about arts, culture, and science. Most of them are about studies I would never have read about and stories I would never have heard. This increased my general knowledge a lot because even though some articles seemed useless, I quickly started hearing things related to them, where I could use my knowledge from these articles. So read something every single morning. Whatever it is.
8. PREPARE A BUCKET LIST OF THINGS YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE IN THE 2020s
Want to go skydiving? Want to get a dog? Want to try going vegan? Write it all down and make sure you’re on them. Oh, and don’t tell yourself you have ten years to do these tasks and forget them, start now.
9. IF YOU’RE GOING TO PROCRASTINATE, DO IT PRODUCTIVELY
I am a person who procrastinates. A lot. Like most of us. Somehow I’ve figured out a way to do it productively.
Let’s say you have to study for an exam (ahem ahem – this is me now) but feel like you’re procrastinating instead. Write down a list of things you have to do: this list should include the task you’re avoiding but also other things you’ve been meaning to do, like finishing a book, sending an email or a message, in my case writing this article… And do the other things on the list. When you’re bored, go back to the task you were avoiding. At least this way you will be doing useful things while procrastinating.
10. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
This one is an obvious one. Learning a new language is useful, and you probably can think of one you would like to learn. Take steps toward that, learn it. But do it properly. Knowing a few phrases and a few vocab words won’t make you understand locals or understand writing in that language. Make sure you can, or it’s not really beneficial, is it?
11. STOP BEING LATE, IT’S ANNOYING
Stop it! 1 pm means 1 pm, not 1:30, not 2:00… Especially when you’re meeting someone one-on-one. Of course, there can be unexpected circumstances and you can be a bit delayed, but I’ve noticed that it’s mostly not that! People are just… okay with showing up late for some reason. Just stop it.
12. IF YOU HAVE ELECTIONS IN YOUR COUNTRY AND ARE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE, DO IT
Do your research and vote! You’re given the chance so why not?
13. DON’T STRESS FOR NOTHING, IT’S A WASTE OF TIME
Some people stress over things they can’t control. It’s a waste of time and energy.
If you think you did bad on an exam, stressing about it afterward doesn’t get you ANYWHERE. You’ll study harder next time. Don’t ruin today because of something you did yesterday.
It’s not only past things we stress unnecessarily about. Sometimes we look at something from a certain point of view which stresses us out. It’s important to take a step back, move around, see something from ALL points of view. We’ll most likely figure out that it’s not as stressful as we thought it was. For example, a few days ago I was studying for an exam with a couple of my friends. We had been studying since 1 pm and it was about 6 pm when one of them said “It’s 6 already! It’s so late, what are we going to do?” (the exam was the next day) I thought a bit and said: “We’ve been studying since 1 pm, it’s been five hours. We’re going to study five more until eleven. So it’s not that late. We’re only halfway done.”
Actually, scratch that. Don’t stress at all. Period. It’s not worth it. Take action instead of being stressed. (If you’re stressed because of climate change, educate people and reduce your negative impact on the environment, etc.)
14. VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR, THEIR IMPORTANT
Did anyone cringe reading that? I did. It should be “THEY’RE IMPORTANT” not “THEIR IMPORTANT.” I’ve probably made other mistakes in this article that weren’t done on purpose like the one above. I’m sorry. With texting, the internet, and memes, we’re getting more terrible in things like spelling and grammar. I’ve also noticed that we don’t even know the right words to express ourselves sometimes, so we have a vocabulary problem.
Using language properly gives the impression that you are far more intellectual, it can sometimes be more important than the content in judging your writing, so be careful.
15. SHOP CONSCIOUSLY
Don’t buy everything. Check if what you’re buying is made locally. Check what it’s made out of. Where it’s made. Who made it. Its environmental impact.
I know all these steps may seem hard, that’s because they are. It’s nice to just like something and buy it without worrying about the effects it has on our surroundings. If you just buy less in general, that’s the best thing you can do.
16. MANAGE YOUR $$$
17. SPEND TIME OUTDOORS
Because it’s nice. Because fresh air is important. Because natural light is great.
18. ASK QUESTIONS
I met an eight-year-old about a week ago, and whatever I said, she always answered with “why?”
As we grow up, we ask fewer questions. Why? Just because we’re older doesn’t mean we know everything. We should still be able to ask others questions such as “why” or “how” on a daily basis.
19. DON’T USE AN APP FOR EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME
Just don’t. It’s lazy. Don’t order everything online. Don’t uber everywhere. Don’t use Tinder to find a date. Don’t order in food. Don’t pay someone to do your laundry or walk your dog through an app. You can do these occasionally, but don’t make a habit out of them. Most of these apps are making us extremely lazy. Just don’t.
20. ASK YOURSELF “AM I HAPPY?”
I had the chance to listen to Ahmet Kırtok’s TEDx talk at TEDxMEFUniversity this year (unfortunately it’s not released on youtube yet) and he shared with us something that he asks himself in the mirror at least once every day: “Ahmet, are you happy?” This is the most valid question there is but we often forget it. Depression is on the rise and we’re too busy working towards the wrong goals and asking ourselves the wrong questions. Are you happy?
(Counting these words, this article is exactly 2020 words. A cool coincidence.)