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Make the most of 2010 

This is a new section, aimed at helping you make the most of 2010

We know what you’re thinking: a thinly disguised bag of features about New Year’s resolutions. But that's actually the opposite of what it's all about.

For a start, New Year New Outlook is about making the most of the whole of 2010 - and not by setting yourself targets that you feel forced into, which you won’t meet, and which will therefore end up making you feel worse about yourself than you did in 2009.
It’s about changing your life for the better by adopting a new approach and doing things differently, right through 2010 and beyond.

No promises to keep, no pledges, no pushing.
Make the most of 2010 in Swindon

We are encouraging people to learn a new skill, get out more, think more about what they eat, do more exercise, control their stress, get a new style or find a new job and more.

All it really boils down to is adopting a more positive attitude by trying something new, taking opportunities with both hands and – above all else – making it about what’s right with your life, rather than what’s wrong.

If your goal really is to kick bad habits, we’ve some ideas about that too, but everything we are suggesting here is a simple or easy-to-achieve idea that can change your life by broadening your horizons, setting new challenges and making you feel better about yourself.

Including this one, there are 12 sections, packed with ideas, for you to browse (see menu, right).

Every time we came up with an idea, we realised Swindon was perfectly placed to deliver because it has the location, the opportunities, the expertise and the people to provide everything you need to make the most of the year – all right here on our doorstep.

Here, in no particular order, are 26 random ideas to get you thinking...

1. Get a new job. You may be out of work or you may be underpaid and undervalued. Whatever it is about your career that needs fixing, do something about it. Check out SwindonJob to find out what’s available, and Swindon Talent Pool to start marketing your skills. And look out, in those sections, for tips on interviews, writing impressive CVs and more.

2. Be a sport. Nothing heavy, nothing hard. If sport sounds like a drag, just visit a local leisure centre and have a look around. You’ll soon realise that Swindon has excellent facilities that you’ll find are a pleasure to use – and are perfect for socialising while you get fitter. First, see our huge Sport in Swindon guide, then check out our guide to facilities across the town.

3. At your leisure. Sport is only beneficial if it becomes regular, and becoming a member of a club is a great way to get in the habit. The more you go, the less it costs – and the excellent facilities at venues such as Next Generation will soon turn it into a pleasure, not a chore. Check out the Next Generation website for details of membership and facilities.

4. Learn a new skill. OK, this is a big subject with endless opportunities, but the outcome is always the same. Set yourself the challenge of learning a new language, a musical instrument, a craft, painting, archery, silversmithing… you name it… and the rewards will be numerous – possibly starting with the pleasure that comes from proving an old dog can learn new tricks. Swindon is blessed with not one but two excellent colleges that are as geared up for night school/part-time studies as they are for vocational education. There really is something for everyone at New College and Swindon College – so start looking.

5. Chop, chop! If you can remember the old Kung Fu series – and even if you can’t – then give a martial art a try. They’ve been around long enough in the west, now, for us to realise that the physical benefits they bring through regular exercise is only half the story. Martial arts also build discipline and self-confidence, and provide an aid to self-defence. Check out our guide to martial arts in Swindon.

6. On your bike. We’re not going to patronise you by telling you about the benefits of cycling – because you already know them. But it’s worth saying that cycling is less about winning the Tour de France and getting superfit than it is about simply enjoying the experience of cycling. And don’t forget that it’s something that all the family can enjoy together. Get started (or re-started) by checking out our cycling guide.

7. Get bendy. Yoga was once considered an alternative therapy but is now very much a mainstream aid to both physical and mental wellbeing - and there are various opportunities to practise  it in Swindon. People of all ages, builds and mobility can benefit from yoga,so check out our guide to yoga in Swindon to find out how to get started.

8. Get blogging. If you thought the internet was only for passive use – like the telly – you’re missing the point. Lots of people are finding blogs are a great way to broadcast their views and reach out to a worldwide community. Everybody’s got an interesting story to tell and should tell it through a blog ('Facebook and Twitter for grown-ups'). New College is even running a course called Blogging for Beginners, which aims to turn so-called ‘ordinary’ people into creative and proactive publishers. Check out the Computing & IT section in this online guide.

9. Tee up! We can’t promise it will get you fit, but all that fresh air can’t be bad, and if you’ve ever wondered what the social appeal of golf is, then perhaps now is the time to find out. Swindon has more than its fair share of great golfing facilities – many with excellent opportunities for beginners to improve, and improvers to flourish, as our guide to golf around the town shows.

10. Be a footie star. You may have given up on your dream of playing for Swindon Town, but there are plenty of opportunities to carrying on playing the beautiful game. And when you sit down to watch the professionals on the telly or at the County Ground, you will have earned it. If 11-a-side is beyond you, small-sided games, such as Futsal, will keep you fit and active – and our footie guide shows you how, where and when.

11. Breathe that country air. Location, location, location… Surely no town in England is better situated than Swindon for the variety of its neighbouring countryside and the ease with which it can be reached. The Cotswolds, Savernake Forest and the Marlborough Downs, the Vale of the White Horse, the Ridgeway… they’re waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Even better: there are plenty of open spaces in the town that you can reach, any day of the week – at lunchtime, before and after work or for an hour or two at the weekend. Make these places part of your routine and you'll find the clearing of your mind, the de-stressing of our body and the getting more in tune with your surroundings will begin immediately. Start with our local guide - and why not try visiting all of the places on the list by the end of 2010?

12. Walk, don’t drive. It’s healthy, it’s rewarding, it’s green. And apart from the cost of shoe leather, it’s free. You’ll be amazed at how your lifestyle changes when you swap the road for the pavement. Check out our 10 Reasons Why You Should Walk Instead of Drive – originally put together to help SwindonWeb users save money, but also useful for helping to understand why walking is so beneficial. There’s even a section with lots of tips on making walking better.

13. Open your eyes. This isn’t hard to do. Just simply try to take in more of your surroundings as you go about your life - and this probably means walking instead of driving, whenever you can (see above). You get more out of the world when you feel closer to it. To see what we mean, take a leaf out of Hidden Swindon - a website dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary that's hiding in the ordinary, all around us.

14. Kick the habit. Whether it’s smoking or biting your nails or even picking your nose, the best way to kick that habit is to get a little help. No big deal – and definitely no resolutions. For now, just take a little time to find out what help is available by checking out our mini guide.

15. Give organic a go. One thing you need to understand about eating organic food is: it’s not like becoming a vegetarian. You don’t have to commit to eating organic food exclusively, and although there are ethical reasons for doing it, you should try to eat organic food not out of principle but because it’s healthier and because it tastes better. Remember that changing your life is about making little changes – especially at first – so introducing at least some organic food into your diet is important, not how much of it you eat. Luckily for Swindon, we have one of the country’s most celebrated organic farmers, Helen Browning, on our doorstep, where you will find plenty of advice.

16. Make some ‘Me time’. Why not make time for you in 2010? Perhaps the biggest step you can take towards a happier life is to stop giving all your time to other people and save some for yourself. You could treat yourself to an hour of pampering every week or every month, give yourself a new look or sample alternative therapies. The most important thing here is not what you do, but deciding to take time out from your life to do it. See our big Health and Beauty Guide to see the kind of things we mean.

17. Get running. You may already have decided this isn’t for you, but wait! The mistake most people make when they decide to take up running is they aim too high. You don’t need to be marathon-fit to reap the benefits, and you don’t have to aim to get fit inside overnight. You could think about entering a road race (SwindonWeb always features local ones) or you could even set yourself the long-term goal of running in the Swindon Half Marathon – and you’d have three-quarters of the year to achieve it. If there’s the slenderest outside chance that you might think about taking up running, see our guide to running before you make up your mind. Be warned that you are likely to feel inspired.

18. Turn yourself into a high flyer. We all deserve a treat now and again – and if you have already decided to change your life by choosing one of the ideas in this section, then you’ve already earned your reward. If you’ve never done it before, then a flight in a microlight could be just the thing. Not only is it great to try something new, but it’s bound to be fun, and the brand new and unique view of the world you’ll get when you do it may be just the stimulus you need to choose more things to do from this list. Check out the details.

19. Give the supermarket a rest. We’re not suggesting that you turn your back on supermarkets completely, but we do like the idea of spending at least some of your time – and your money – on what you could call alternative shopping therapy. That could mean supporting local shops – such as the many fresh greengrocer shops in the Broad Street/Manchester Road area of town - or by visiting local markets. Our markets guide is a good place to start, and you could also try farmers’ markets and outlets, such as Farmer Gow’s.

20. Eat out. Whether you deserve a break from the cooking or you've earned a treat, eating out is the quickest and easiest way to break the routine and reward yourself for your efforts. You'll even be doing your bit for the local economy. From pub meals to pizza palaces and slap-up meals, Swindon has countless options. The key here is not to wait for a big occasion. It’s even more enjoyable if you and the family eat out for no other reason than you deserve it. See our big Eating Out Guide to get your mouth watering.

21. Dance the night away. Millions watch and love Strictly Come Dancing, so why don’t they get out there and give it a go themselves? If you’re a Strictly fan, take the decision to be a doer instead of a watcher - and find out that it’s even more fun to do it yourself than be a couch potato. It doesn’t have to be ballroom, either, because there are lots of other types of dancing going on in Swindon – as our constantly updated dance guide shows.

22. Get wet in the great outdoors. Swindon is lucky to have one of the country’s foremost watersports venues on its doorstep. Not only is the Cotswold Water Park only a short drive (or cycle) away, but it is geared up for both informal and organised outdoor waterborne pursuits. Waterland Outdoor Pursuits offer lots of opportunities to do all those things you never got round to doing before, from sampling windsurfing to experiencing powerboat racing! Or if you fancy trying waterskiing, book a session with Craig Cohoon Watersports.

23. Get your skates on. Ice skating is one of those things that people have either tried once or get hooked on. If you haven’t done it for a while – and especially if you haven’t been on the ice for a few years - have another go! We can’t think of anything that combines fun and exercise so neatly. And don’t think that you have to be a certain age to try it. We checked out the Link Centre’s web page and we can’t find anywhere where it says they have an upper age limit, so it’s official: you’re never too old for ice skating.

24. Give a greyhound a home. You wouldn’t think that the world’s sixth fastest land animal would make a good pet for people of all ages, but they do! They require no more exercise than other breeds, so you don’t have to be an athlete. Greyhounds are loyal, friendly, docile, shed less hair than most breeds and – because they are one of the most intelligent of breeds – bond well with humans. Sadly, there is never a shortage of greyhounds needing rehoming, but the Retired Greyhound Trust do a fantastic job, and there is a branch in Swindon. Rarely will a good deed reward you  so often.

25. Join the club. Or the society. Or the association. There are dozens to choose from in Swindon, and, once again, it’s not so important which one you choose, only that you choose one to give yourself a change. But boosting yourself by making a change in this way is only one benefit. You'll also meet new people, learn new skills, take on new responsibilities… the only downside is you’ll kick yourself for not doing it before. If you can’t find something to interest you in our extensive list of local clubs, then you only have one option – start one of your own!

26. Support your local football clubs. Happy days are here again at the County Ground where Danny Wilson is slowly building a stylish team that is looking more and more capable of winning promotion. So if you haven't been out to see Swindon Town lately, give them another try. Or you could choose our favourite non-League team, Swindon Supermarine. On second thoughts, don't choose - support both!

Look out for more ideas - link below!
Learn a new skill in 2010
New year, new skill...
Learn a new skill in 2010
Control your stress in 2010
New year, new calm...
Control your stress in 2010
Eat healthier in 2010
New year, new food...
Eat healthier in 2010
Get more physical in 2010
From brisk walks to five-a-side footy, it's easy to stay active in Swindon...
Get more physical in 2010
Get a new style in 2010
New year, new style...
Get a new style in 2010
Kick the habit in 2010
New year, but not old habits...
Kick the habit in 2010
New year, new job in 2010
New year, new job...
New year, new job in 2010
Transform your home in 2010
New year, new home...
Transform your home in 2010
Manage your money in 2010
New year, new security...
Manage your money in 2010
Manage your weight in 2010
New year, new waistline...
Manage your weight in 2010
10 ways to treat yourself in 2010
New year, new treats...
10 ways to treat yourself in 2010
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