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What is your New Year’s Resolution?

What is your New Year's Resolution?What is your New Year’s Resolution going to be? Talking to Japan-based friends the top New Year’s resolutions are pretty similar! We all need to remember that New Year’s Day is a day, just like all the other 364 days of the year. To fulfil your resolution you need to 1. pick a reasonable resolution for yourself, 2 make a plan with dates and steps, 3. find support of others, 4. review your progress, and 5. celebrate the success. Change takes time and persistence. Many people hate New Year Resolutions and believe in starting the change anytime. I agree, but New Year’s Day is here and is a great day to start! Hope the information below helps you jump-start your year and your New Year resolution. Happy New Year!

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

1.  Spend More Quality Time with Family & Friends — Busy, busy, busy. Everyone seems to be doing too much yet saying they have no time for friends and family. Sometimes it is not more time we need, but quality time. I left a well know, innovative, fast paced internet company in 2014 to spend more time with family and friends. It was a hard decision, but one I do not regret at all.  I am loving having more time to do what I want, when I want, but will continue to make improvements in 2015 to increase the quality of time. Here are some tips to help us all find the time and increase quality.images-8

a. Disconnect from your devices when together and talk (leave your phones in your bags, and no game machines at the table). This means parents and kids – no double standards. Love this article about face time vs. screen time.  I will be trying to instate the following behaviour changes for myself as well – not easy while trying to build BestLivingJapan! No mobile devices or PCs in the bedroom, at the dining table, or within one hour of waking up or once the kids come home.

b. Set a standing date night with your partner at least twice a month. Arrange childcare to be available far in advance. If your partner is out-of-town, take a friend out!

c. Set a time each week for a family meal that all attend. We have designated Sunday night as family dinner night where all members help cook and clean as well. Family meal can also include another family, once in a while.

d. Make a list of the places or things your family wants to do this year. Accomplish 1-2 activities or place per month or at least per season. Can be as simple as going to a museum like the Edo Museum in Tokyo or ice skating, or traveling to one of the 18 Japan World Heritage sites.

Remember when you are on your deathbed you will never say “I wish I worked more!

2. Become Stronger and Healthier – Who does not want to be stronger and healthier? The benefits of regular exercise include increasing longevity, achieving and maintaining weight loss, enhancing moods, lowering blood pressure, and the list goes on.  This year I will use my bike more than my car, play more tennis to increase cardio, keep limber with images-9yoga, and ski and run after my four kids.  I will also be tracking my food, alcohol and exercise on the MyFitnessPal app. There are so many great apps now which will aid you regardless of sport or goals.  If you are a runner, there are many marathons and other running groups and events to join – check to the site RunninginTokyo. Like to ski?  Check out SnowJapan.  Yoga is also a great way to stay strong and limber – BeYoga in Hiroo is quite popular.  Also, most large health gyms are open 24/7. Casual family activities are also a great way to stay fit such as biking around the palaceclimbing walls, and hiking Mt. Takao. The only excuse you have is your laziness!  Don’t you want to be healthy and look better?

3.  Get Organized, and Reduce Clutter – Almost everyone I spoke to says getting more organised and reducing clutter is a top goal for 2015. It seems that the busier we get, the more out of control our living environments seems to become. Disorganisation is usually driven by emotional or psychical clutter, clean that up and organisation is an output. Organising clutter will not work; it will once again become disorganized.

First determine what your desired goal is to help you visualise the outcome. Do you want to be able to invite friends over suddenly and not be embarrassed?  Do you want to cut down the amount of time it takes to clean? Do you just feel you have too much stuff or are doing too much which is weighing you down emotionally?

I started to declutter our home in 2014, and it feels great, but have a lot of work to go.  My tips to declutter or purge, in my case, are 1. pick a room (start small with a bathroom or one closet to feel a sense of accomplishment quickly), 2. have four plastic boxes prepare and label as throw away, give away, sell or keep, 3. remove each item from the closet or shelf touching it when deciding its future (which box), 4. clean the space very well, 5. determine if the storage space is optimal before returning items to keep (visit your 100 yen store if you need plastic boxes or other items to organize what you are keeping only after reviewing items), 6. Do not start organising more than one space at a time – focus and complete before moving on, 7. immediately throw, give and sell items (do not put them in another space to deal with later). There are two great Facebook groups in Japan for selling (Japan Garage Sale) and giving items away (Mottainai Japan).

Remember you need to stop the inflow, as well, or the problem of clutter will repeat itself.  I have enjoyed many organising and decluttering videos on YouTube to get and stay motivated on my home purging resolution. There are also some great books about organising and decluttering, such as Mari Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising which is now a best-seller in the US, Germany and the UK.

4.  Learn Something New – Have you vowed to learn Japanese in 2015, or learn how to cook Japanese food? There are hundreds of Japanese programs available for all levels, schedules and budgets in Japan. Here is a solid list of schools from the JapanTimes. I attended Nichibei in Yotsuya many, many years ago and found it excellent.  If you need a motivator than sign-up to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam that takes place twice a year (July and December). Due to the washoku boom there are more and more Japanese cooking programs available. Long-term resident Elizabeth Ando has published numerous cookbooks, has a handful of websites and holds cooking classes. Her website is www.tasteofculture.com, and my favourite of her books is Washoku.  Another great resource to learn is Temple University, Japan Campus that offers many continuing educational courses from history to web development. Registration for spring semester 2015 closes on January 13th.

charity5.  Help Others – Last but not least New Year’s resolution is to help others. There are many great organizations that you can help volunteer with your time or donate money. Here are just a few. Click through to their websites below and see how and when you can help.

a. Hands on Tokyo was founded in December 2006 by a group of Japanese and foreign nationals who are committed to making volunteer activities more accessible and committed to accelerating the growth of volunteerism in the Tokyo area. Hands On Tokyo collaborates with many local organizations to encourage senior citizens, revitalize playgrounds, deliver food to the hungry, support people with visual impairment, inspire children in children’s homes, and the list goes on. Overcoming language barriers, we developed a bilingual volunteer clearinghouse so that we can work together for a common purpose.

b. Tokyo English Life Line (TELL)  was founded in 1973, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing world-class, effective support and counseling services to Japan’s international community and helping to address the country’s growing mental health care needs. TELL offers the TELL lifeline which is free, anonymous telephone counseling and support across Japan. 9am – 11pm daily; TELL Counseling professional face-to-face counseling and psychotherapy for individuals, couples and families in Tokyo and Yokohama; and, TELL Outreach programs and support for international and multi-cultural families.

c. Shine on Kids  is dedicated to making life better for kids with cancer and other serious illnesses in Japan and their families. They run a Beads of Courage program, and also have therapy dogs to raise the hope and spirit of the children. Shine! ON Kids is officially certify by the Japanese government with a Nintei status. The Nintei status gives back since financial donations to SOKids are now tax deductible. Presently they are trying to raise money for another therapy dog to visit the kids in hospitals.

d. Playground of Hope – aims to restore the “social fabric” of disaster-affected and or economically challenged communities through the power of play.  Playground of Hope provides cost effective play equipment and the pairing donors with local volunteers to build play spaces that restore community pride and help make communities “livable” again for children, their parents and grandparents. The project was launched on April 1, 2012 and currently has completed 23 locations.

e. Room to Read is the English-speaking and bilingual volunteer group dedicated to raising awareness and funds for Room to Read charity. We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.  To achieve this goal, we focus on two areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education.  We work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond.

f. Japan Relief for Cambodia & World Assistance for Cambodia was launched in Tokyo in 1993 to provide humanitarian aid to Cambodia. It was founded by longtime Tokyo-based American journalist, Bernie Krisher. Bernie reported on Cambodia during the early 1960s for Newsweek and became friends with Prince Sihanouk. Sihanouk was ousted by a coup d’etat in 1970, and civil war ensued. Bernie flew to Cambodia with his daughter, Debbie, to welcome Sihanouk back home. What Bernie and Debbie saw was a country decimated by war. That’s when Bernie decided to do something. He has launched a daily newspaper; built a charity hospital that provides medical care free of charge; established an orphanage for children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS; built more than 550 rural schools all over Cambodia (many equipped with computers and internet access); set up school vegetable gardens that provides meals to students before classes; initiated the Girls Be Ambitious program that now supports hundreds of girls by enabling them to receive an education; and created a magnet scholarship program for academically talented students to pursue higher education.

Good-luck and work hard on your New Year Resolution. Hope 2015 is an awesome year for you and your family!


What is your New Year’s Resolution?



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  1. Can’t wait to get back to Tokyo and start de cluttering!

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