When you picture the kind of person you want to be, what does it look like? Happy, successful, well-traveled, creative? Same. So in 2015, why not actually make it happen?
We’re not going to try and out-Goop Gwennie here, but a few small changes now will have you well on the way to being a more productive, successful, happy version of yourself by next New Year’s Eve.
Remember: You have just as many hours in the day as Beyoncé, so use ’em wisely, and follow these 21 tips to being a more impressive person in 2015.
1. Never forget a name.
Nothing has the power to ruin a first impression like forgetting the name of the person you’re trying to impress. Forgetting someone’s name can make you appear vague at the best of times, and self-absorbed and rude at the worst. An easy trick to remember a name is to repeat the name back to your new acquaintance as soon as they are introduced. Another tip is to introduce the person who’s name you just learned to someone else immediately.
And if you do find yourself forgetting, it’s much more impressive to ask “I’m sorry, remind me of your name again,” rather than pretend like you know it.
2. Stop procrastinating.
If you struggle to get menial tasks done, take a page from David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done.” His mantra goes like this: Any tasks that is going to take less than two minutes to complete should be the first one that you tackle. It could be anything from unstacking the dishwasher, making reservations for the weekend, painting your nails, or washing your sheets, to waterproofing your leather jacket and responding to an email you’ve been putting off. The supporting logic is that once you get started it’s easy to keep going, you just need the push to kick-off with your tasks.
3. Be more creative.
When Dr. Seuss created Green Eggs & Ham, he was trying to win a bet that he could write a book while restricting himself to just 50 different words. Take a page out of this best-seller and put some limitations on yourself to force your mind out of its comfort zone.
Research agrees with this theory, suggesting that most of us try to utilize every single resource at hand, and just wind-up rehashing tried and tested concepts when trying to be creative. Adding self-imposed restrictions to your work (no internet access when brainstorming, perhaps?) could unlock some Dr. Seuss-level creative potential that you didn’t even know you had.
Many successful people in creative fields also find meditation extremely useful–it’s not just for hardcore yogis anymore. Teach yourself how with our DIY meditation guide.
4. Become a morning person.
If you’ve always warily eyed those chirpy early-risers from behind your cup of coffee, shake things up in 2015. A study on college students found that those who get out of bed early feel more optimistic and proactive than those who sleep in, and many early birds will tell you that they are most productive before noon.
It sounds obvious, but going to bed earlier really is the easiest way to get up when your alarm goes off at 6 a.m. Also, try opening your blinds at night, so that natural light will help wake you in the morning when the sun rises. Also, treating yo’self in the morning with something that’s worth getting out of bed for can help–coffee might be the only incentive that you need.
5. Become multi-lingual. Well, kind of.
We live in a very connected, global era, and not everyone you come across speaks English as their first language. It’s not just polite, but incredibly impressive, to be able to greet someone and exchange a few words in their native language upon introduction.
We’re not saying you need to take a masters course in French, but something as simple as downloading a free phone app, like “Duolingo: Learn Languages Free,” and learning a new phrase every day while you’re waiting for the subway, will get you a long way after a year of the habit.
6. Fix your posture.
You know those women who always look confident and polished? Those are women who have great posture–sitting and standing up straight can even make you appear slimmer.
If you can afford to see a physiotherapist about your posture, go for it–they will give you tailored exercises to follow daily. Otherwise, if you have a bit of a self-diagnosed hunch, take up a Pilates class. After a couple of lessons and a conversation with the instructor, you will be able to walk away with exercises to strengthen your abs, back, and hopefully improve your posture.
Does this bring back memories of your grandma telling you to sit up straighter? Sorry, nan.
7. Be well-traveled
Don’t you find that it’s always the person who’s just returned from a trip that has an interesting story to tell? Expand your world–and your mind– by making an effort to get out of your neighborhood every weekend.
You don’t have to hop on a plane to London next week (although, if you can, go for it!), but simply stepping out of your comfort zone to try new restaurants, bars, exercise classes, farmers markets, and heading on small road-trips can instantly make you a whole lot more interesting at a dinner a party.
8. Never run out of money.
Nothing makes you look like you don’t have your stuff together like not being able to pay for your share of dinner, or a cab–nobody likes a cheapskate.
Make a pact with yourself to budget better in 2015 and start taking small steps to get there (check out our list on 101 easy ways to save!)Ensure all your bills are automatically debited from your account the day that you are paid, so you know what you have left to play with.
Also, set up an automatic transfer every time you get paid, so that a percentage of your income goes into a rainy day fund. If things are looking bad, or when you have a substantial amount of money saved, consider investing in a session with a financial planner, it will do you much more longterm good than that new handbag.
Personal finance app, Spendee, is one way to to track your income and your expenses every day you spend. It only costs $1.99, so you’re savings plan is already off to a good start.
Are you often awkward in photos, always closing your eyes or making a weird expression with your mouth (what is with that!?), or worse, not looking at the camera at all? Here are a few tips that will help you not want to burn (or untag) every photograph that you’re in.
a. Try nodding your forehead toward the camera and away from your shoulders, and tipping your chin slightly down. Then, press your tongue to the proof of your mouth. Voila, no more double chin in photos.
b. Red carpet queens know that fronting the camera straight-on is almost never flattering; rather, turn your head to a three-quarter angle.
c. They say the camera adds five pounds (who stands a chance!?), but if you angle your body correctly you can counteract it. Ok, this one’s a cliché, but if you put one hand on your hip, angle your body to the side, and turn your head towards the camera, you really will look slimmer. (Click here for even more tips on how to look better in photos!)
10. Be more likable.
There’s a reason your mom always told you to say please and thank you; politeness simply makes you a more likable person, and will leave a good impression. Beyond the basic please, thank you, and excuse me, there are a few etiquette rules the modern woman needs to know.
a. If you’re having an IRL conversation with someone–anyone–then leave your phone out of it. Keep your mobile in your handbag and out of sight whenever you’re engaging another person in conversation. Every time you check your screen, you’re basically telling the other person you have something you’d rather be doing than chatting.
b. When it comes to weddings, you should give a gift for every invitation that is sent your way–even if you don’t attend the event–within three months of the wedding. It doesn’t have to be big, but it’s the polite way to congratulate the new couple.
c. Never RSVP as attending for an event, and then fail to turn up. Use your judgement about how much notice you need to give in advance if you can’t make it.
11. Become a more confident public speaker.
When it comes to presenting to an audience, whether it’s retelling a funny story at a party, or a major meeting at work, many people feel uncomfortable. Practice makes perfect, and it’s good to put yourself in situations that force you to speak up. Shyness is really just as habit, and you can break it with practice.
Simple things like asking your close friends for honest feedback, making yourself look people directly in the eye during conversation, and shoving your hands in your pockets to stop fidgeting, can all make you appear more confident.
12. Have an educated opinion on current events.
Few things are more mortifying than being asked an opinion about a topical current event that you totally have heard nothing about. Cue blank expression. Follow a few reliable news sites on Twitter and Facebook so that you’re constantly exposed to headlines.
13. Shake hands properly.
It’s expected that you will shake hands before and after a job interview, and usually when you’re first introduced to someone, particularly in an office environment. Stand back, look the other person directly in the eye, and offer a simple greeting (like, “great to meet you,”) while shaking hands firmly for about three seconds.
14. Stop running late.
Nothing is ruder than turning up late to an appointment or date–you basically just told someone you value your own time above their own. Obviously sometimes it’s unavoidable, but always call (not text) ahead when possible if you’re running behind schedule. Avoid running late by always being a pessimist when it comes to time, and assume things will take longer than normal.
15. Sound like you know what you’re talking about.
We can’t all know everything, and we’re not suggesting you try. What you can do however, is not come across like you know nothing. Be careful about what you say, and don’t jump in at the first chance you have to voice needless information, particularly if it’s an argument.
Also, fake confidence in your argument by not saying “umm,” and “like” and “ahh,” by making direct eye contact, and talking slowly and clearly. Pause if you have to.
16. Be well-connected.
Imagine if you followed up with every single person you met, how many connections you would have? When you meet new people, make an effort to connect with the person again, whether it’s by exchanging business cards and letting them know you’ll be emailing them the following week, or by going ahead and invite them to an upcoming event.
17. Never be late for a payment.
Organized people don’t miss payments often, because it’s a sure way to attract penalty fees and an unhealthy credit score. If you know you’re going to be short on cash one month, call your phone/cable/gas company to request payment at a later date.
If you’re particularly forgetful, ask these companies for e-statements and reminders when the bills are due–some will even send you a text message when your bill is approaching its overdue date.
18. Be tidier.
Did you see our earlier tip on procrastination? Yeah, try that, and get cleaning!
If you have a whole heaps of untidy cables behind your TV, you can actually buy organizers that will clean up the situation for less than $10. If you can’t see your bedroom floor through the clothes, try buying two large washing baskets–one to keep clean clothes, and one to toss clean clothes in that you’ve decided not to wear, but haven’t bothered to clean up.
19. Be a great host.
If you’ve always wanted to throw a killer party, but never been confident enough, might we suggest that you spend some quality time on Pinterest? The social media site is buzzing with recipes, decor ideas, theme inspiration, and more ways to be the hostess with the most.
20. Tip like a pro.
Tipping between 15 and 20 percent at a restaurant is common knowledge, but do you know how much to give your manicurist? How about your doorman? We rounded up a complete guide to tipping, so you can avoid that awkward pause while you rifle through your wallet.
21. Feel comfortable at a fancy restaurant.
If you’re not one for white tablecloth type places, you’re probably not entirely comfortable with basic restaurant etiquette. If you’re not sure which glass and bread plate is yours, pinch your thumb and forefinger together. If it makes a “d,” that is the side your drink is on. If it makes a “b,” that is the side your bread plate is on. When it comes to cutlery, you start from the outside and work your way in as the courses progress. The dessert spoon (and sometimes fork, too) goes above the plate–so don’t touch this until sweets are brought out.