this has got nothing to do with new year's resolutions

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It happens every year. The same hackneyed resolutions, written by the same worn-out copywriters about all the stuff you’re going to do in the new year but never will.

 I should know – I’m one of them. As a freelance writer, it’s my job to churn out this bullshit: drink less, exercise more, save, travel, learn; you know the drill. I have a cosmetic surgery client who requests a piece entitled New Year, New You every single year.

In case you hadn’t noticed, new year’s resolutions are a bunch of crap. Today, I’m going to try and change that.

I’m gonna list five of the most popular new year’s resolutions, accompanied by the cliched advice that is dispensed by Every Single Article On The Web. Then, I’m going to suggest some streetwise (websmart?) advice that will help you actually achieve these goals. These aren’t resolutions; they’re small behavioural changes which, when combined, will help you achieve far more than any new year’s wish list ever could.

In 2014 I will…

Take a digital detox

What the internet says:

Stop using your smartphone in the bathroom or in line at Starbucks”

What I say:

This is bollocks. Waiting in line or sitting on the can are the times when you should be using your phone. Besides, the idea of a digital detox is ridiculous. You never hear of anyone volunteering to take an analogue detox: “I’m sick of smelling the flowers and skipping through the meadows – I’m off to stare at a laptop for 15 hours straight.”

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It’s true that taking time out from technology is a good thing. Every time I pocket my phone – be it to smoke a joint or take a walk – I start to think. And then I start to have ideas. And then I whip out my phone and write down those ideas before I forget them.

It’s reached the stage where we no longer view our smartphones as accessories; they’re a part of us. Embrace your digital life support. But avoid lurching down the street like a teezie (text zombie), bumping into people while you Facebook, cos that’s plain rude.

Read more books

What the internet says:

Make a shortlist of books you want to read this year”

What I say:

ermahgerd_gersbermsThis is a nice idea; ideally we’d all read more books. However, if you didn’t read many books last year, guess what: you’re probably not going to in 2014 either. If you’d like to learn (or simply be entertained), don’t waste your money on self-help books and novels that will have been abandoned by chapter three.

Wean yourself away from the sugar rush caused from reading BuzzFeed, switching listicles for longer reads on the web. My favourite sites for in-depth reading (10mins+) include Damn Interesting, War Tard and Medium. The #longreads hashtag and Twitter account will also produce some great content, as will Longform which is an awesome resource. (Plus, and I whisper this gently, Ed Uncovered’s Feels section contains longer articles that are less reliant on GIFs and internet humour.)

Books – ebooks; novels; biographies – aren’t dead. If you’re struggling to read a 500-word article without stopping to check your notifications, however, you’re unlikely to complete 12 novels this year. Take smaller bites instead.

Spend less time on Facebook

What the internet says:

Hurr, spend less time on Facebook”

What I say:

A worthy objective, but what are you going to fill that gaping void with? Instead of vowing to spend less time on Facebook, think positively: vow to spend your time on the web more productively.

While you’re waiting in line at the hairdresser (or at Starbucks), stop scrolling through Facebook, vainly hoping for the instant gratification of a like or interesting link.

facebook-addictionThe problem with Facebook (one of the problems at least) is that broadly speaking, you can’t choose your friends. They’re the people you went to school with and worked with. If they’re boring then guess what: your news feed is also gonna be boring.

The solution? Spend more time on a social platform where you can choose your ‘friends’. Take Twitter as an example: if your Twitter feed is dull, you’re clearly following the wrong people. Seek out awesome accounts that will make your day better.

Then, break them down into themed lists that you can check at your leisure. If you’ve no idea what the hell I’m on about, here’s my Twitter lists. Yours can be tailored to suit your preferences but the same rules apply.

When you stumble across an interesting article but don’t have time to read it (because, say, your latte’s ready), simply star the tweet and retrieve it later from your favourites.

Alternatively, install the Pocket app which allows you to bookmark interesting content. Because Pocket syncs across your devices, you can discover something interesting on your smartphone and read it later on your tablet.

Get fitter

What the internet says:

Make 2014 your healthiest year yet!”

push ups earth downsThat’s all well and good but are you really, seriously going to get fitter this year? Like, actually going to get off the couch, eat better, join a gym and start training for a half marathon?

I’m not saying you can’t do it. I’m just skeptical, that’s all. Here’s an idea: instead of forking out £500 for a gym membership, begin with more modest aspirations.

One of my clients produces fitness apps, including one for High Intensity Interval Training that requires as little as 15 minutes a day. Spend a couple of quid on a decent fitness app and give it a go. If you can’t find the time or inclination to exercise for 15-20 minutes a day, you’ll be glad you didn’t splurge on that gym membership. The key to developing good habits is making incremental changes instead of starting the year with no alcohol, no takeaways  and no respite from the punishing fitness schedule you’ve optimistically drawn up.

bitcoin price chart

Save more

What the internet says:

Set aside money every month. Pay off your credit card on time. Use a balance transfer. Blah blah.”

What I say:

Saving £100 a month is great, but let’s be honest, it’s not gonna change much, is it? Even if you stick to the programme, you’re gonna get a decent holiday out of it at best. Hardly the sort of stuff that’ll help you buy a second home (or even a first one).

If you want an investment that has a fighting chance of growing, I’d take that money and convert it into bitcoin. If I’d put £100 a month into bitty from the start of 2013, I’d have £50,000 right now.

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Spoiler: even if things go better than expected, you’re not going to make that much in a year. Hell, you could make nothing or even lose half your money. That’s the thing about high-risk investments: they carry a high risk.

Curious about bitcoin but don’t know where to start? Tweet me or Ravi and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. If nothing else, watching the bitcoin chart rise and fall will provide a new way of skiving work and domestic obligations: “Sorry I can’t come home darling – YOLObitty’s about to hit $1500!”

Who knows where bitcoin will be a year from now, but investing in it will be a sight more entertaining than waiting for your savings account to pay out its miserly 5%.

As they say, YOLO.

And finally….

Throw out those plastic bags under the sink.

Seriously, you don’t need them.

Last words

And that almost wraps up Ed Uncovered for the year. If I get bored, I might put out another article before Christmas, but otherwise, check back here on Boxing Day – that’s when I’ll hopefully be bringing you news of Cum Bottle Guy’s latest deposit.

You do want to hear about that, right?

Thanks for all your support this year and have an insanely awesome Christmas, or failing that, a reasonably OK one. Before you go, click here to find out what’s happening with Ed Uncovered in 2014. It’s a little bit exciting.


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