How to Achieve Everything on Your New Year's Resolution List
Dreading or Wishing for a New Year?
Facing the reality of holiday debt, more cold weather, more people, more food, more work, more doom, more waiting in the long lines for after Christmas sales, more resolutions, not to mention the thought of having no more extra time off, no more cheery decorations, no more allowance for alcohol, no more winter napping, no more options getting to those resolutions. Wait! Stop this Scrooge mentality. New Year’s is not supposed to be like this!
Let's Try Again
New Year’s is a time that brings a sense of renewal to many. It is a time to think about new goals, new adventures, new revived motivations, and - yes! – new resolutions. The New Year is a welcome ending to anything that might have gone awry in the passing year and provides a fresh start through the beginning of a brand new year. New Year’s can be exciting if one knows how to make it so. Let’s discuss some common pitfalls and how to keep the hope of a blessed New Year a reality.
Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions
A resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something. This can include anything exciting, although preferably nothing felonious. Here is a list of the ten most common New Year’s resolutions. Any sound familiar?
1. Improve health
2. Lose weight
3. Improve finances
4. Stop smoking/drinking.
5. Increase time spent with loved ones.
6. Be more organized.
7. Learn something new.
8. Put more joy in life.
10. Improve job situation
We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have and keep resolutions. Where is that written? Take that pressure off the table and, instead, create a bucket list. If you haven’t seen the movie, Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, make a point of doing so. Check your local library for the DVD, or stream it through services such as Netflix and Hulu. It is a great reminder of how important living is. When one is caught up in the duties of life, we often lose sight of what is most central. Sign up for the BucketList.org for weekly inspirational notices. Topics to inspire and supply information for pursuing life’s adventures are covered.
Fun Fact: Dating back nearly 4000 years ago, Babylonians are credited with creating the concept of New Year’s resolutions. They were the first civilization to hold a New Year’s celebration, which included honoring their gods, as well as, making promises such as paying debts or returning borrowed objects. They believed that if one kept these promises the gods would smile upon them and given them a stellar year.
What Usually Goes Wrong with Resolutions
Again, do any of these sound familiar?
- We expect too much of ourselves.
- We make too many resolutions.
- We set unrealistic goals and time frames.
- We go Hecules instead of breaking the goal down into smaller, doable chunks.
- We do something someone else wants us to do instead of picking our true interest.
- We don’t recognize that most resolutions include changing one’s way of thinking and behavior, assuming all will be easy and effortless
Let us now turn back to a few of the most common resolutions and reflect on how to make them a reality. Keep in mind it may be necessary to make adjustments to suit tastes, needs, interests and resources. These ideas are just that - ideas. Use them to jump start efforts and make alterations along the way, which in turn will keep things much more interesting.
If you have ever been through a health scare, it is no wonder a desire to start a new year feeling healthier is on your list. All over the internet there are hundreds of products touting a road to better health. The truth is better health results from better habits and simpler methods rather than an expensive supplement. Meg Dowell, managing editor of College Lifestyle Magazine, offers simple methods to being healthier in an article, 5 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit.
- Buy fewer processed foods. Processed foods contain chemicals that offer little to no nutritional value. Purer, perishable foods such as fresh produce, yogurt, and whole grain bread offer exactly what we need with the right balance of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients without the added cost of supplements. Walk away from chips, soda and frozen meals that contain extra sugar, sodium, and highly processed oils. Our bodies can't make good use of these for energy, instead adding to the waistline.
- Make exercise a daily habit. This can be incorporated in many ways without a formal gym membership. Think about all the activities enjoyed as a child and revisit them as an adult. Time not a friend? Visit How to Exercise When You Have No Time. This will jump start the process towards more exercise.
- Skip the three meals a day mentality and work towards eating several, smaller meals in the day. Easier on the digestion and helps maintain continuous energy including a continuous elevated metabolism.
- Track what you are eating and why you ate to begin with. Boredom? True hunger? Habit? Review the list and scrutinize if it was a healthy choice. We all enjoy comfort foods but often they are simply added calories with low nutritional value. Not sure if a food is healthy? Try Fooducate. This free app scans bar codes and reveals calories, fat, sodium, other ingredients and then provides a score on how healthy it is. Fooducate helps take the guess work out of reading labels and understanding foods.
- Schedule an annual physical with a doctor. This provides an overall view of current health status.
Fun Fact: CTPost.com reported that 48% of Americans prefer to celebrate New Year’s at home. Twenty-two percent go to a friend’s home, 22 percent don’t like to celebrate, and only nine percent actually go out at all.
This resolution goes hand in hand with improving health. Per the CDC, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese. That’s just fewer than 40%! It is no wonder that this one comes up as a New Year’s resolution. Multitudes have failed this effort, mostly from picking a plan that was not easy to follow. This inevitably results in getting discouraged and abandoning the whole thing.
- If obese, please first seek the advice of a doctor. When we are overweight, we often carry risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of health issues that need medical supervision.
- Educate yourself. As discussed in the section Improving Health, seek articles on weight loss that provide simple, easy tactics. Do not spend a fortune on some miracle product with no science backing it up. Depriving yourself is also not an answer to weight loss. Weight loss is successful when one learns about better eating habits, ways to incorporate physical activities, and realistic goals. No one should lose 40 pounds in one week. Fast weight loss often results from water loss, which is regained. A slower, steadier pace wins the race.
- Take a look at EatingWell.com which offers 7 Steps to Permanent Weight Loss. This website is committed to achievable goals towards both weight loss and keeping it off, gimmick free, and offers a lot of advice on eating properly.
- Ask why do you want to lose weight in the first place? Is it to gratify a spouse, boy/girlfriend, or your mother? Losing weight should be done for you and only you. And how much should be lost? Ten pounds? Greater than 50? Who decided this? Hopefully a reliable medical source was chosen.
- Get a buddy to keep up enthusiasm, especially regarding exercise. Walking on cold days can be more of a bummer if done alone, but becomes something to laugh about when done with a friend.
- Have a long term plan. A resolution like this should be carried out over the course of the year, not a week or even a month.
There are literally oodles of information on managing money not only on the World Wide Web but also at libraries and bookstores. First, ask what the specific goal is. Better management? Better savings tactics? Cost of living reduction? Investing? Improve credit score? Money articles are often broken down into topics and knowing what is being sought not only saves time but provides better directives.
- Track all expenses for at least one month. Break those expenses down into categories including necessities, household, fun extras, etc. Now review this list to see which category had the highest expenditures.
- If the cost of living is higher on the list of expenses, take a closer look at each cost and scrutinize its necessity. Irina Vasilescu’s, of Don’tPayFull.com, article How to Save Money: Top 100+ Money Saving Tips and Ideas offers many approaches. One of the best websites for money saving tips on all avenues of life is the DollarStretcher.com. Since 1996 they have provided tips on job seeking, cost of living reductions, even retirement planning.
- Credit history a concern? Dana Dratch of Bankrate.com offers 7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score. She keeps it simple and manageable.
Keep in mind that anything related to money takes time. Money does not offer quick fixes but what improves over time stays intact over time.
Increasing Time Spent with Loved Ones
Who wouldn’t want more time with loved ones? May they be family or friends, those we care about are better than Prozac. With jobs and other responsibilities in life, time can be difficult to control.
1. When unable to visit with those we care about make good use of the phone, email, social media or even good old-fashioned letter writing. Reaching out in any way shows how much they matter. And who wouldn’t love a letter in the mail versus a bill? It is always sure to bring a smile.
2. Skype is also a fun, free way to stay in touch. Now you get to face the person and hopefully laugh about life. No computer camera? No worries. Pick up one inexpensively at any drugstore or online.
3. Can meet up for a brief visit over a lunch break? Coffee before work? Yes, this entails some time management but will always be worth the effort.
4. Examine what is infringing on time. Work? Unexpected responsibility? Cost? Pool all loose change in a jar to help collect extra moola. Use earned vacation to take off an extra hour from work to spend with a loved one. Can any responsibility be temporarily delegated? Don’t give up on making schedule arrangements. Cherished moments are like hidden treasure waiting to be found.
Put More Joy in Life
This is a loaded statement at best. Many situations can cause stress and feeling hopeless about them is a common denominator. What to do - what to do?
1. First, examine what is not joyful in your life. Boss? Job? Money? Toxic people? Once it is recognized what specifically is not joyful, then the strategies can begin.
2. Surround yourself with positive materials. Sara Maude, psychotherapist and writer for Tiny Buddha, offers How to Create Joy Today: 7 Tips for a Happy Life. She places the idea of joy into reflective thinking and examination of what can be holding someone back from feeling joy. Another place to find positive thoughts is via Pinterest.com. Put into search “positive quotes” and an abundance of life inspiring words result. Read daily to push away hum-glum thinking.
3. Is there something from your past holding you back? Abuse? PTSD? Victim of a crime or divorce? Something from childhood? These situations are serious and seeking help from a professional necessary. Strong emotions often result in blocked thinking which in turns declines the ability to progress towards positive actions. There is no shame is asking for help from someone on the outside offering clarity. Don’t think you can survive a hardship? Get reading. CordeliaCallsItQuits.com offers many stories about adversity with remarkable endings. Everyone has a story. How we live it will make a difference not only for ourselves, but often will be an inspiration to others. Learn how to make your story an inspiration for others too.
Improve Job Situation
Too many of us have jobs instead of careers. Bosses, coworkers, obligatory requirements not only feel stressful but can feel soul sucking. Working to attack can feel like one is having a root canal without Novocain. Let’s not despair.
- Make a list of pros and cons of the current job. The cons direct our attention to what needs to be changed while the pros reflect what is going well. Start thinking of how each con can be addressed but also work to understand why it is a con. Some of the most unpleasant tasks include hours and hours of sitting or standing with a repetitive action. Gross and smelly also ranks towards the top. This process often results in an endless array of adjectives.
- If feeling like there’s no future growth possibility, or are bored with no chance of a change in responsibilities taking a course to expand skills may be in order. Perhaps the company has a sister organization that could offer fresh options. Talking with the boss or HR may also be helpful for suggestions.
- Revamp that résumé. To check current trends take a look at Monster.com, Indeed.com, or even the public library. Writing a résumé based on current job trends means getting noticed easier and faster.
- Do a random search on these job sites to obtain insights of which companies are hiring as well as gaining suggestions on possible positions of interest. Learning where the rainbow is parked can make or break that job into a career.
- Have a bad boss? Take a look at Got a Jackass Boss? Tips on surviving and renewing are waiting.
- Love job but not earnings? Learn a side hustle. RealWaystoEarn.com and PennyHoader.com are both excellent websites that provide plenty of ways to earn money on the side, perhaps even one that will be that next big profession.
Do you make resolutions for the New Year?
Let's Wrap This Up
Have you noticed a pattern in the suggestions that can be applied to any resolution?
- Obtain information on the chosen goal. Do research and talk to professionals if necessary.
- Set up steps toward the goal, breaking it down into smaller, manageable nuggets.
- Provide enough time to achieve the goal, preferably over the course of the entire year.
- Have a buddy where necessary. A cheerleader is always refreshing and holds us accountable.
- Any goal can be achieved. Think how awesome next New Year’s will be when you have accomplished something important in the current year.
I hope you have realized that the New Year is not the only time you can start a new year. That can actually occur anytime – any month, any week, and any day. The ability to start over or begin an undertaking is not limited to specified time periods of the year. That would make things a bit daunting and really a joy killer. If you truly have a desire to try to achieve something – anything – simply start NOW. The only thing holding you back is that Scrooge thinking. Bah! Hum-bug!