8 Things You Should Stop Putting Off Right Now
This post is sponsored by FlexPath by Capella University.
We all have the best intentions, but often when we set lofty goals for ourselves, we almost immediately come up with excuses not to follow through on them. Life gets hectic, and it's easy to let big items on your to-do list, like paying off your credit-card bills or running a marathon, fall to the wayside.
But just think of how much your outlook and skills could improve if you did complete those goals. No matter how intangible the results at first, it's worth it in the long run. Here are eight things you may have been putting off for too long. The rewards you'll get for finally completing them are so huge, it could even change your life.
1. Learn a new language.
You probably already know that being bilingual (or multilingual) could make you more marketable as an employee, but did you know that it could potentially increase your salary? Picking up a new language can also lead to new friendships, better travel experiences, and, interestingly enough, smarter financial decisions. Look into getting a tutor or exploring the dozens of online resources to help you finally learn another language.
2. Upgrade your home to be more energy-efficient.
Making your home "green" won't just ease your conscience. It could save you thousands of dollars over time. There are several EPA-recommended ways to upgrade your home, but it can feel overwhelming. Consider tackling one upgrade at a time, starting with replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) - they last 10 times longer and use 75% less energy. Seal windows and doors, clean your air ducts, install ceiling fans, and insulate your heater. Your reduced energy bill should make it all worth it.
3. Pay off your credit-card debt.
If you're one of the many Americans riddled with credit-card debt, you might feel as if the road to being debt-free is more of an obstacle course that never ends. However, being proactive about your finances will save you headaches in the future. The first step is to audit yourself: Take advantage of online personal-finance tools to track your expenses and know exactly where your money's going. Create a plan of attack and brainstorm ways to save and earn extra income, which could entail taking some freelance jobs or running errands for someone. Most important, stop spending unnecessarily. It's easy to slip back into old spending habits, so you might have to avoid shopping altogether or leave your credit cards at home for a while.
4. Get a graduate degree.
Maybe you've told yourself, "I'll get another degree ... eventually." But "eventually" turns into "never" when your job, family, and social obligations take over. Still, pursuing a graduate degree could help you leap into that career you've always wanted, give you a salary bump, or satisfy your intellectual curiosity. And while furthering your education is a valuable way to invest in your future, it doesn't have to take over your life. You may want to consider an online program that works with your busy schedule - such as Capella University's innovative self-paced FlexPath program, which offers flexible courses and a flat quarterly tuition so that you can get a degree on your own terms.
5. Open a 401(k) (or other retirement savings plan).
Retirement might seem light-years away, but you need to start saving for it now. Americans are living longer, which means many of us will be spending more time retired, so it's time to plan ahead by opening a 401(k) or other retirement savings account. A 401(k) essentially allows you to set aside tax-free money from each paycheck to invest in bonds, stocks, and money market funds - and you can't touch it until six months after you turn 59. Many companies offer to match 401(k) contributions, but keep in mind that only 54% of employers allow new employees to match immediately. Another retirement savings option is to set up a Roth IRA account, which differs from a 401(k) in that you pay taxes on your contributions, but not when you withdraw the money.
6. Learn CPR.
Even if you learned CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) when you were younger, it's easy to forget how to do it, and you never know when you'll be faced with someone undergoing cardiac arrest or a heart attack. Sadly, 70% of Americans don't know or have forgotten how to do this lifesaving procedure. Though you'd never want to run into a situation in which you need to use CPR, it's a great idea to get trained so you can act quickly and confidently just in case. You can sign up for an online or in-person course through American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or the National Safety Council.
7. Run a marathon.
"Running a marathon" may have been on your bucket list for a long time now, but it's hard to fit in time to train for 26 grueling miles. Despite the extraordinary amount of discipline it takes to prepare for a marathon, finishing one will leave you with a huge sense of accomplishment. With that said, you should always consult a physician if you've had any injuries. If you do decide to run one, set your sights on one in particular so that you have a concrete goal to shoot for. Then commit to a marathon training schedule, and think about enlisting a friend or family member to join with you and give you that extra push.
Volunteering doesn't have to be purely altruistic - it could increase your chances of finding a job if you're unemployed - and there are plenty of opportunities that will align with your schedule and interests. If you love animals, why not walk pets at your local shelter? If you're passionate about writing or graphic design, how about lending your skills to a nonprofit? Many people are hesitant to make the time commitment, but volunteering can be as simple as shopping online for a cause, and it could enrich your life.
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