With a new year dawning, it seems that everyone has a resolution they're looking to keep. With a new year come a fresh perspective and a desire to improve your life – whether that means beefing up your CV, improving your health, or simply doing something you’ve always wanted to do. If you feel like you have the commitment and drive to start, here are a handful of suggestions for skills you could take on:
Learn a new language
Taking on a new language is something many people aspire to, and with good reason. It could boost your employability, enable you to make more ambitious travel plans, or simply add another string to your bow. But learning a language takes time and commitment: the best method is undoubtedly with a fully accredited language school. Those looking to learn or improve their language skills should consider taking English classes with UIC London, who offer a range of courses including Spanish and French lessons based in the heart of London.

Play a new instrument
Learning to play a musical instrument is an ambition held my many people. This is a skill which might not necessarily appear on your cv directly but employers do like to hire well-rounded individuals with wider interests outside of the workplace. It is a skill that is guaranteed to bring you a lot of pleasure and many people observe that playing music relaxes them and gives valuable focus.

Learn self-defence
There are obvious benefits to learning self-defence techniques – if you live in London or other major cities the ability to defend yourself from crime and undesirable people is an obvious asset. But self-defence can also be an excellent way to keep fit and socialise. There are classes available to suit every age and ability, ranging from a martial art to more basic self-defence skills.

Take up photography
Since practically everyone now has a camera-phone in their pocket, photography has never been more accessible to beginners. Professional photographers, however, have sought to distance themselves from the grainy camera-phone standard and now photography as an art form is more highly-valued than ever. With a decent camera, the basics of old-school point-and-click can be self-taught, and many digital cameras have on-board tuition.

Learn to repair just about anything
It's all too easy to call a number and get a professional in to fix your cupboard/sink/bicycle. But when times are tough, more and more people are embracing the DIY spirit and teaching themselves new repair skills. With thousands of online guides and YouTube tutorials, the resources are all there at your fingertips. So, the next time something stops working as it should, why not try repairing it yourself before paying the professionals?

Learn to cook
Over recent years, fast food and microwave meals have diminished the art of cookery. Luckily, the proliferation of TV chefs, cookbooks, and online guides means there's a wealth of information out there. Cooking can be a very relaxing and satisfying pastime and you can’t beat a home-cooked meal or a plate of cookies still warm from the oven.

So there you have it. Whether you decide to take French lessons at a London language school or a course in DIY, you won’t regret learning a new skill this year.

Resource box

10 repair projects you should never pay for
Lifehacker lists some easy repair jobs

Never too late to learn an instrument
NPR article on the benefits of learning an instrument

How to cook
The BBC's online home for cooking advice and recipes


A new year is a new start. Plenty of people resolve to change their lives as January comes around and there’s something about starting a new diary which makes the possibility seem inviting. There are many ways you can make 2013 a year to remember, whether you’re hoping to get a new look, a new job or a new love. Here are six ways to help you enjoy a fresh start in the new year so that you can look back with no regrets.
Become more active

Joining a gym is a great way to get started on your goals of losing weight, increasing your stamina and looking good for 2013. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of opportunities to go and build up slowly. Gyms are usually packed full in January but nearly empty in March thanks to unkept new years’ resolutions!

You could also try swimming, sports or running in the great outdoors if you’re not a fan of the gym. Becoming more active will help you stay healthy and prevent you from becoming ill – it’s a very worthwhile resolution to make.

Eat more healthily

Some people swear that they’ll give up chips and chocolate completely, but eating more healthily doesn’t have to mean abstaining from the things you like. Try and make steps to a better diet by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on snacks and drinking plenty of water.

If you’re not so good at cooking, learning how to make some simple, healthy meals could reduce the amount of ready-meals or takeaways you may eat – and it’ll save you money as well.

Learn a new skill

If there’s something you’ve been meaning to learn for a while, what better time to do it than in the new year? There are plenty of classes and courses on offer for people looking to learn both professionally and for fun. Some ideas might include learning a new language, taking an art class or taking up a new sport.

Your new skill doesn’t have to be useful! Why not learn how to juggle, make balloon animals or flip a coin across your knuckles? While not strictly necessary, these tricks are great for impressing other people.

Go somewhere you’ve never been

Why not use 2013 as your year to see the world? If money is an issue, pick somewhere close to home but try and visit somewhere you’ve never been before. Alternatively, you could think about taking some time off from work to go interrailing or to volunteer abroad. There’s so much out there to see and do – why wait?

Meet someone new

If you spent Christmas and New Year alone, you might be feeling that now is the time to try and meet someone new. While you can’t guarantee true love before the year is out, there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances of finding it. Ask your friends to introduce you to new people, get out and about and use online dating websites, such as www.eharmony.co.uk, to boost your efforts.

The new year often sees people dating again after a long time off the UK romance scene. If you’re nervous about how to go about meeting someone special, the eHarmony Facebook Page offers advice and tips on how to find love.

Enhance your career

Whether you’re looking for a new direction or just want to improve your existing job, a new years’ resolution can help you on your way. Resolve to step up your job search, sign up for a course or increase your list of contacts to help yourself find the career of your dreams.

If you quite like your existing job, why not ask your boss for more responsibility, branch out into different areas or be the first person to volunteer for new tasks? You’ll get yourself noticed (and promoted!) in no time.

Resource box

Top 10 new year’s resolutions

Article from Metro.co.uk on what to take up and give up

10 unusual new year’s resolutions

Suggestions from Yahoo Lifestyle

How to keep your new year’s resolutions

The Guardian offers advice on real new year’s resolutions


2013 is quickly passing us by, but don’t disregard your new year’s resolutions. Here are some simple ways that you can make the most of your life, and live a healthy and happy 2013.

1 - Exercise

Let’s face it, everyone is always setting themselves the goal of exercising more, and never getting round to it. But even simple things like going for a half an hour run, or going for a swim are effective ways of boosting your confidence, and staying in great shape. Running is good for the mind and it is proven that people who exercise regularly tend to be more happy.

2 - Eating healthy

Eating healthy can be hard, with the temptation of junk food forever omniscient. However, eating healthy will make you feel great both physically and mentally, and it really doesn’t have to be that hard to do. Cut out snacks such as crisps and sweets and you will notice the weight flying off, bringing with it a new found confidence. There are many options of healthy food recipes, which don't have to be expensive.

3 - Setting yourself realistic goals

Nothing feels better than achieving an ambition you have set yourself. These can be anything, from the most simple and mundane such as getting yourself organized, to finding a new job. It will give you a great sense of achievement and happiness if you set yourself goals, and accomplish them.

4 - Discover a new hobby

Sometimes we all feel as if life can be a bit dull, so pursue a hobby which you enjoy, or immerse yourself in something you have always wanted to do. Not only will you learn something new, you will make new friends and gain a welcome sense of achievement. These can be anything from sports, to singing lessons, to cooking classes!

5 - Learn a language

If you cannot speak a foreign language, why not start? Speaking another language is both valuable and interesting. It allows you to meet new people and experience countries you visit in a way previously impossible due to your lack of language knowledge.

6 - Volunteer

Volunteering is a great experience. It allows you to help other people, and gain a positive feeling for doing so. It is something you will feel proud of, and gives you the opportunity to make new friends. It could be something as simple as volunteering for a few hours at a homeless shelter, or maybe even travelling abroad.