Seeing as it is January (Wow, already? I haven’t even heard Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” yet), we’ve been talking a lot about New Year’s resolutions here on the iRemit blog.
We’ve so far discussed tips on how to stick to your vows of self-improvement and there’s another article about financial resolutions, but if you have yet to figure out what your New Year’s resolution is, go on and read the following list to choose a bad habit (or two) to break:
1. Not paying your credit card bill in full.
Sure, credit cards make your life easier in so many ways. They spare you the hassle of bringing so much cash when shopping, and if you equipped your spouse back home with one, s/he won’t need to wait for your latest remittance to clear before purchasing something.
However, this convenience can be a double-edged sword. Because credit cards can make you feel like you’re not spending actual money, it’s way too easy to end up in debt. So, if you don’t pay your credit card bills in full as they come due, interest and finance charges can pile up faster than you can say “Visa or Mastercard?”
How can you tell if you should use your credit card or not? Look at the price tag of the item you’re eyeing and ask yourself if you can afford to pay for it in cash. If the answer is “no,” that means it’s expensive and beyond your means. When that happens, put your card away or don’t take it out at all.
2. Spending too much time on social media.
Not only is this hobby unproductive (unless you use it to promote an online business), but it also fosters depression and insecurity in most people.
(No) thanks to people like the Kardashians, Facebook, Instagram, and I don’t know, Twittergrambook or whatever have become platforms for presenting the best picture of everyone’s life. With all the filters, captions, and whatnot out there, anyone can curate their lives to make it look a whole lot better (read: more glamorous) than it actually is.
And because we don’t see the reality behind those #EyebrowsOnFleek selfies or #blessed vacation photos, we constantly compare our life to other people’s and feel like we need to buy what they have and go on the same holidays they always seem to be on to be as happy as they appear (hence the no. 1 bad habit on this list).
Let’s not even talk about how too many people take everything they see on social media as gospel, regardless of whether the source of such news is reliable or not.
To wean yourself from this bad habit, why not try communicating more directly with actual people?
3. Neglecting to keep in touch with your family back home as often as you should.
Speaking of communication, when was the last time you had a good chat with your loved ones back home?
Perhaps recently, since the holidays were upon us just a couple of weeks ago, and that’s great.
Still, I bet your kids or your spouse would love to hear from you more often. With so many cool apps like Viber or Skype available for free these days, that should no longer be a problem. You might be tired after a long day at work (and rightly so), but it would really make your kid’s day (even yours perhaps) if you ring them for a few minutes and ask them how their day went. The time difference between Australia and the Philippines is only around three hours at the most anyway.
You don’t have to do that everyday, but your family relationships can only improve if you got in touch more often. As a bonus, constant and real conversations with your spouse or kids can also help you cope with loneliness, which brings us to…
4. Succumbing to homesickness. It’s tough being an OFW.
It’s tougher still when your family isn’t with you abroad.
It’s normal to get homesick and lonely. Being all alone so far from home can make even the most optimistic among us get sad once in a while, and that’s okay.
What isn’t okay is if you let it get the best of you. When you lose sight of why you’re toiling away in a foreign land (i.e., to build a better life for yourself and your family), that’s when things start to fall apart.
You might seriously consider dropping everything and running back home (and thus wasting all the efforts and sacrifices that have propelled you thus far). Worse still, some migrants use homesickness as an excuse to get involved in an extramarital affair with another equally lonely OFW.
There are, however, far healthier and more effective ways to deal with homesickness, so you don’t have to suffer through it more than you should.
5. Failing to save up for the future.
Ugh!!! Why is this still on the list???
Because there are still too many OFW’s (and other Filipinos besides) who are guilty of it even now, that’s why. Whether it’s because they have trouble saying “no” to people (“Yes, lola, I will send money for you to sponsor your weekly town fiesta”) or because they can’t seem to refrain from sending ALL their money back home, lots of OFW’s end up with no retirement funds to fall back on.
Don’t forget that you won’t be receiving an OFW paycheck for life, and that at some point, you’ll have to go back home. Better yet, sit down with your family and talk about how much you should save up and what to do with it (e.g., invest it in a business that can produce enough revenue to replace your OFW income) BEFORE you even get on that plane.
6. Not taking care of your health.
Two things: 1.) No one ever gets younger (except for maybe J.Lo, but I digress) and 2.) You’ve only got one body. So don’t neglect it.
Work hard, yes, but take care of yourself too. Get regular check-ups (Hello, Medicare). Exercise, even if it’s just a 15-minute brisk walk around your neighborhood every evening. Resist the urge to eat McDonald’s every day and work on curbing the urge to light up a cigarette every hour.
It sounds like quite a bit of effort, but remember that you can’t take care of anyone if you yourself are in need of medical care.
They say it takes about 21 days to form a habit, be it good or bad. Knowing which ones to get rid of and what to replace them with can make all the difference after all those 21 days, no?
Given that we’ve got a lot of 21-day periods in the coming year, imagine how much better your life can be when you put them to good use by cultivating better habits, yes?