“Let every new year find you a better man,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, the American statesman and inventor, in his 1914 Poor Richard’s Almanack. The following are some things seafarers can do this year to achieve that goal. No doubt, they can think of other ways. The thing is to undertake some new activity and open a path to self-fulfillment. A prosperous New Year need not mean prosperity only in financial terms.

Start a collection of maritime mementos.

As a seafarer, you get to travel to places that many people will never get to visit. Start collecting interesting objects from the countries you’ve been to — key chains, beer mugs, nautical figurines, etc. Display your souvenirs at home on a wall or a shelf. They will bring back happy memories.

Learn photography and take pictures of your travels.

Memories of your life at sea and visits to foreign land are worth preserving, Learn how to take interesting, well-composed pictures (click here to download National Geographic’s Guide to Photography: Travel Basics). Do not be content with taking selfies. If you become skilled enough, you might even earn extra money by selling your photos online.

Keep a personal journal.

Working at sea can get lonely. Many seafarers fall into a state of depression. Writing down your thoughts and experiences in a personal journal or diary is a good way to spend the time after watchkeeping duty. It can help you better deal with your emotions.

Follow a daily exercise routine.

Poor health can cut short your sea career. Stay fit with an exercise regimen. Try the simple Chinese exercise described in this Marine Café Blog article. It is easy to learn, takes only a few minutes, and does not require any equipment. This is perfect for when you are on board a ship that does not have a gym.

Get into the habit of reading books.

Cultivating your mind by reading books is just as important as performing physical exercise. Try to read one or two books a month. You can download many sea-related books for free from Marine Café Blog’s Downloads section. Remember that a seafarer who reads books travels farther than one who does not.

Find a good cause to support.

It need not be seafarers’ rights. You can support women’s rights, the rights of children, the campaign against ocean pollution, etc. Nor is it necessary that you donate money to the groups involved. You can post about the issues and share relevant memes on social media. Identifying with something larger than yourself can add new meaning to your life and give you a sense of fulfillment.

~ Barista Uno

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