“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Emi Adriano, who is itching to start the year in the best way possible….

WE ARE BACK! 2019 is finally upon us and based on the most recent Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts I’ve been seeing, it seems as though a large chunk of the general population couldn’t wait for 2018 to end. With December festivities coming to an end, I couldn’t help but find myself thinking of all the reasons why I really don’t like January. I am fully aware of the “new year, new feels” attitude but in the same breath, it’s almost impossible to forget that December 2019 is a whole 331 days away, which is virtually forever.

Having indulged in the festive season delicacies, add a kilogram or two to the scale and a definite decreased bank balance, and voila, another reason I don’t like January. Between travel and indulgence, budgets are tight over the first month of the year and as my dad said “you’ve got to budget unless you want to be eating salty crackers and cheese for the rest of the month,” I mean how inconvenient. Unless you’re a dedicated fitspo, generally December also means a break from the gym routine and general exercise regime which means not only a kilogram or two extra in your luggage from excessive Christmas shopping but possibly also a bit of extra meat to take back home. Getting back into exercise isn’t easy after being a sloth for a month but that’s part of the ‘get fit January’ goal right?

And then of course – back to school, work and normal routine. I must be honest, I’m a creature of routine so I’m quite excited to get back into the swing of things, however, based on the fact that people have their own vacation plans, not everyone is back at the same time and ready to kick into gear all at once, meaning that although we’re back in full swing, January is somewhat of a disjointed month with people trying to get their groove back and set goals for the upcoming months of the year. Who said routine is ever easy?

So based on the fact that I personally think January is the longest month ever, I thought I’d give you 5 tips on how to survive the January blues.

  1. Have resolution friendly fun 

Most of us start the year off by setting New Years Resolutions. January is a month that everyone wants to eat better, save money and work harder which often means that people would rather stay indoors then do something fun or interesting for themselves. Don’t let those pesky resolutions hold you back. Get creative – find an activity that requires little expenditure and lots of creativity and active your inner adventurer by planning low budget events. Hike through the beautiful Botanical Gardens or plan a healthy snack baking afternoon. There’s never a reason to stop having a bit of fun!

  1. Find a hobby 

How about we ditch the resolution idea and make yourself a monthly hobby instead. Whether it be cooking, knitting, reading, running or anything that tickles your fancy, why not start the year off with something that makes you happy. If you never want to do it again after the month, find a new one. If it sticks then great, you’ve picked up something new to enjoy.

  1. Let’s get active 

It’s safe to say that January in any gym is an absolute nightmare! There are a fortune of new memberships based on an overindulgence or Christmas treats and everyone is wanting to start the year off by getting fit. There are a few options on how to get active in January. Option 1: if you are a religious gym goer, then get back into the swing of things immediately. Set yourself new goals and targets you’d like to hit. And remember, if you are on some medical aid plans, the harder you work, the more you get rewarded. There’s nothing better than a free smoothie (especially with a tight January budget).

Alternatively if the gym isn’t for you and your proximity to work or school is close in distance, consider walking or cycling to work as opposed to driving. Not only are you getting the steps in but you’re also saving money in the process. Talk about a win-win situation.

  1. Spend wisely 

Financial strain in January is definitely a thing for a large amount of people having shopped till they dropped over the festive season for Christmas presents and December spoils. The best way to manage your money into the new year is by creating a budget. Once you know exactly how you stand, you can make informed decisions as to what you can afford, and what expenses you have to cap, or cut completely.

In saying so, this doesn’t have to take away from the enjoyment of the month. Find a coffee shop that you love and treat yourself to a delicious cup of coffee for the week (although this may mean sticking to Jacobs for the rest of the week if you are anything like me and consume 6 cups of coffee a day). Look around for special deals on basic items, such as food, clothing and toiletries. With most stores offering store cards for points, save up points earned and use them to buy necessities for the month.

This may mean you have to cut back on unnecessary spending. Avoid eating out at restaurants or over indulging in excessive spoils. Try keep the festivities to the minimum unless you’re getting creative and doing something fun and inexpensive with friends and family. You’ll be doing your health and your bank balance a favour.

  1. Join a carpool 

Parking is always a nightmare as is and with everyone returning home from holidays, the quiet December streets of Joburg are no longer so quiet. Instead of driving your car to work every day, consider joining a carpool with colleagues that are traveling in the same direction as you. Not only will it alleviate the frustration of trying to find parking, but you will also be spending less on petrol which is a rather costly expense. If car pooling doesn’t work for you, there’s always the option of the Gautrain.

With so much to look forward to in the upcoming year, don’t let January blues get you down. Consider all the ways that you can add value to your own life by simply just doing things differently. Focus on the small things that add great value instead of the bigger things that require a large bank balance and far more effort.

With only 27 days left of dreary January, I hope my tips will help you make it the best one yet!