After two years of uncertainty, it has never been more critical to focus on what you can control and do what makes you happy. So instead of using our smartphone to endlessly scroll down into oblivion, could technology help improve your life and wellbeing in 2022?
Is making New Year's resolutions during a global pandemic realistic? Twelve months ago, our well-intentioned goals, such as hitting the gym five days a week, might have stopped before they started when gyms shut down because of COVID. However, as the year progressed, tornadoes, floods, the arrival of Omicron, and a rise in authoritarian governments served as a timely reminder that there is so much we can control.
Upgrade your infrastructure
Over the holidays, many have added a few more devices to their home network, from doorbells and games consoles to digital assistants. But they seldom spend their time or money on updating or replacing their home routers. In fact, according to a survey from Consumer Reports, one-fifth of consumers have been holding on to their home routers for more than four years.
Although many new routers will automatically install updates, some of the older models will be drifting out of support and could no longer be receiving firmware updates at all.
Many also signed up for a home broadband or cable package in a time before the days of back-to-back zoom meetings and 4K streaming services across multiple devices.
You could begin by determining the exact speed entering your home to determine if you are on the right package and whether it's time to upgrade your router. It is also an excellent opportunity to identify any weak Wi-Fi spots in your home and even explore creating a separate network with lower bandwidth for your IoT and smart devices. Dedicating more bandwidth for those all-important video conferencing calls could improve the online experiences for everyone in your home.
Your home's internet demands could be contributing to the perceived decline in the fast and reliable Wi-Fi that you used to enjoy. However, now that every room in your house requires a high-speed internet connection, maybe it's time to admit that you need to invest as much time and money on your infrastructure as your new shiny gadgets.
Get out of your echo chamber
Remember the days when you could have an open and, for the most part, good-natured discussion on almost any topic with someone with a worldview that challenges your own? Such conversations would typically end with both parties learning how they had more in common with each other than they expected.
Many social media algorithms are infamously designed to keep users endlessly scrolling on a platform.
In doing so, they often trap users in a positive feedback loop or echo chamber where their viewpoints are fed back to them. But surrounding ourselves with our own opinions or people just like us will result in entrenching our opinions or even risk-shifting us to extreme positions.
The problems of 7.9 billion people on this planet shouldn't be viewed through the binary lens of left vs. right or poor vs. rich. Somewhere along the way, we lost nuance and context in our online conversations and allowed polarisation to dominate newsfeeds. But technology does indeed work best when it brings people together. Will you dare to let go of your comfort blanket of mutual affirmation and allow your curious mind to be kinder and less judgmental online with people outside of your echo chamber?
Embrace proactive healthcare
Traditionally, people would wait until something was medically wrong before asking their doctor to troubleshoot their symptoms. However, the arrival of wearable tech such as smartwatches enabled users to monitor their heart rate, exercise, sleep patterns, blood oxygen saturation levels and receive alerts if anything changes before symptoms present themselves.
Most people will emerge from the holiday season feeling a little sluggish after too much food, drink, and bad tv. But the Couch to 5K app will ensure that almost anyone can surprise themselves with a slow and steady approach to becoming a runner. When exercising, you can also learn about industry trends in podcasts or even listen to the audio version of those classic books you always wanted to read.
Blood pressure, calories, and liquid consumption can also be recorded on smartphones. Many apps gamify fitness and wellbeing to keep your health goals on target beyond February. The Aero Garden hutch also ensures that anyone can grow fresh greens in their apartment and smart blenders also make it much easier to make healthy smoothies. A long list of technology tools can make your road to wellness easy, but only you have the power to flick the motivational switch on.
Reduce your carbon footprint
Your new year's resolution does not have to be all about you. Smart home devices can play an essential role in improving the energy efficiency inside your home. In addition, artificial intelligence is increasingly learning from our daily routines and offering advice on better heating our homes and tracking hot water usage.
For example, scheduling the laundry while we sleep or taking showers at night are just tiny changes that can make a big difference throughout the year.
With your home broadband optimized, you might also be able to reduce car travel and cut down on lengthy commutes to the office. Where possible, you could commit to repairing, reusing, and recycling products throughout the year. Once again, reducing your carbon footprint doesn't have to be a binary choice. It's much more about making minor tweaks to your daily routine that will collectively make a significant impact at the end of the year.
Simplify your life
In the movie Up in The Air, George Clooney asked, “How much does your life weigh?” The reality is that most of us are guilty of surrounding ourselves with stuff that is weighing us down. Do you need Amazon Prime, Audible, Disney+, Netflix, Apple TV, Spotify, and a cable subscription in your life? And could that thousand-dollar smartphone in your pocket be used for more than scrolling down social media news feeds?
Most New Year's resolutions come from a negative place, and deep down, we know we need to change to break a habit or finally accomplish a personal goal.
At this time of year, there is a billion-dollar wellness industry continuously reminding us just how much better we could be. But maybe it's the perfect time to simplify our lives by reducing subscriptions rather than adding more.
If the great resignation has inspired you to build a side gig or look for a job that makes you happier, go for it. Equally, if you want to make more time for yourself, why not go for more walks and record 1 Second every day to record and appreciate the micro-moments in your life.
The backpack you have been carrying around has been cutting in your shoulders for too long. Of course, some things in 2022 will be out of your control, but you should not be afraid to put the bag down and take a rest. With a slight change in mindset, technology can help you simplify your life and put a few changes in place to break free from algorithms and focus on your mental health and wellbeing.