It has often been said that we have a devil over one shoulder and an angel over the other. At New Year’s, after the holidays, our angel makes our resolutions. Thus, our resolutions are filled with good intentions, sincerity and high hopes. We will be better people this year.
Somewhere in mid-February (according to the Business Insider, our resolutions last for an average of six weeks), our devil comes out and says he’s had enough. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The angel was fine for the first few months in a half, but now the devil’s back and he’s ready to deal. Our resolutions go out the window and our angel’s halo breaks. We’re back to the same old habits we resolved so earnestly to rid ourselves of.
Still, the beginning of the year is a new beginning and there’s nothing like a new beginning that brings out our desire to start over. So every year, we continue to make resolutions for better or for worse. This year, we hope it’s for the better. Here are some of the resolutions we think you might be making this year, and a few tips for keeping them.
Getting in Shape
Why is getting in shape the most common resolution? Is it because so many people want to do it, or that so many people failed to do it last year that they made it again this year, or is it just that it’s so popular, it’s the first resolution that pops into people’s minds?
Let’s face it, today our world is obsessed with getting in shape and if you’re not in shape, you almost have to make it your resolution, otherwise, what will people think of you?
Most people start to give up on their resolutions at the six-week mark, which means you’ve resolved to get in shape in January, you might find yourself resolving to never exercise again in the second week of February. That’s when you should enlist a friend to exercise with or join a regular class to give you extra motivation. Personal trainers advise using technology to help you stay on track.
Fitbits alert you when you have been sitting too long, food apps tell you how many calories you consumed and exercise apps will tell you how many you burned. If the first step to solving a problem is awareness, you’re headed in the right direction.
When most of us picture dieting, we picture starvation. We picture nights in front of the TV trying to ignore the pint of Ben and Jerry’s calling from our refrigerators until you cave in a state of complete degradation, only to wake up the next day feeling bloated and guilty. No wonder people don’t keep their New Year’s dieting resolutions.
The truth is, when you put a dieting plan into action, you need to be prepared for things like this. Keep low-fat frozen yogurt in the freezer for when those cravings hit and don’t think about how much better the ice cream would taste. To you, that frozen yogurt is your double scoop rocky road overload, and it’s doing more for you than you can imagine.
Enjoying Life to the Fullest
This should be an easy one. There’s no self-denial here. Who would have a hard time keeping a resolution to have fun?
Apparently, a lot of people. If you’ve been hearing the word mindfulness a lot lately, you know how hard it is for people to focus on the present. We’re so driven and result oriented that it can be difficult to just chill out.
The key is not to change your life, but to practice enjoying your life as it currently is.
Top psychologist Jonathan Fader suggests a daily ritual to help. “Upon waking, ask yourself what you have to look forward to that day. At the end of the day, ask yourself what the most enjoyable part of your day was and why.” It may provide some valuable insight into what enjoying life to the fullest really means.
Cutting Down on Spending
Madonna said it the eighties and it still holds true today. “It’s a material world.” For most of us resolving not to spend money is like resolving that this year is totally going to suck. No wonder we end up giving up on it in the sixth week.
Never fear, there is a way around complete despair, and that’s a compromise. Don’t give up your fancy clothes but try to find them at more affordable prices. Buy and sell at a consignment store and stock up when things are on sale. Bundle your car, home, and life insurance. Who knows, you may even find that you have a hidden talent for savings that you never even knew about!
Whether or not you end up uncovering your inner bargain hunter or not, you’re likely to uncover a little extra cash in your bank account this year if you stick to your resolution and that’s something that’s bound to make you feel like celebrating next year.
Spending Time with Friends and Family
We love them, they understand us like no one else, so why does it seem so hard to take time out for them?
Most of us are focused on “getting things done.” We don’t necessarily consider visiting our relatives in that category. In fact, seeing our relatives can make it harder for us to get things done so it often takes a backseat to out more pressing responsibilities.
That’s exactly why you should take time out to spend with them. Spending time with relatives takes our minds off our more stressful activities and helps us focus on what’s really important. Plus, they’ll be really happy to see you. Set time aside each week to visit or call and make it a priority. You’ll find that it becomes one.
Getting organized is one of those holes in the bucket type goals. You know that taking time to get organized would save you time in the long run, but you’re always too busy to take the time to get organized, and when you get the time, organizing is the last way you want to spend it.
That’s why getting organized is such a popular resolution. How can you stick to it? The first way to stay organized is to stop buying clutter. Those little impulse items they put by the register when you are waiting in line to make a purchase are there for a reason. Always ask yourself where you think they’ll end up in the next three months. If you see them adding to your clutter, resist.
Try breaking down organizing into ten-minute sessions each day for deleting old emails and setting up files to track paperwork.
Even if you do everything digitally, there will always be some kind of important papers. If you have a file for them, you can store them away before they add to the already rising mountain.
Learning A New Skill
Unfortunately, this is not only one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions, but it is also the one that we most commonly break. No wonder old dogs can’t learn new tricks. They give up in six weeks.
Of course, this one won’t affect your life too much, after all, you’re probably not going to miss out on much if you don’t learn Farsi, but it is a good way to keep your brain functioning. The best way to keep this one; start small. Instead of signing up for a continuing education class that you are bound to discontinue, start out with a learning app and then master your skills as you go along.
Traveling is not just a big on the list of resolutions, it’s also big on the bucket list. If you’ve ever noticed, there’s a lot of overlap between the two. And why not? New Year’s Resolutions are a great way to cross something off your bucket list. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
The best way to keep any New Year’s Resolution is by making a plan and sticking to it. When that translates to travel, it means getting specific about where and when you want to go, and what you want to do when you get there. After that, you can get down to the nitty-gritty about cost, what your planning to pack, and start saving.
More Home-Cooked Meals
At the end of the day, anything seems preferable to going home and cooking dinner. Getting food on the go or getting it delivered is not only more convenient than preparing your own food, but it’s also a lot more fun. When you get something at a restaurant, you’re saying, “Surprise me!” when you’re eating at home, it’s Tuna Surprise again.
However, despite being more fun, there’s a lot of other things that eating out has more of, such as calories, unhealthy ingredients, and cost. That’s why preparing meals at home is such a popular New Year’s Resolution.
In order to make this resolution into a reality, stock your kitchen accordingly and keep a few go-to recipes handy. There are also apps you can download to help you find recipes and make shopping lists. Your wallet and your waistline will both benefit.
After the holiday festivities and hangovers, it’s pretty easy to say you’ll swear off drinking for good, but some things are easier said than done. If you resolve to cut down on drinking on New Year’s you may find yourself making up for it double in the middle of February. The best way to keep the demon alcohol at bay is by passing on the happy hours and parties that can result in drinking more than your fill. Instead, invite guests to your pad where you can be in control of the amount of alcohol that you serve and that you drink.
With all of the bans society has put on cigarette smoking, you would think this resolution might be losing popularity, but apparently, there are still a lot of people who still believe smoking Is glamorous. The American Cancer Society says that only 4-7 % of individuals successfully quit in a given attempt, but that figure can increase to 25% when counseling is combined with anti-smoking medication. Who knows? Maybe this year you’ll win the dance with the devil for good.
Breaking Away from Excessive Phone Usage
What’s burning a hole in your pocket that’s not money? It’s your cell phone. When we have cell phones in our pockets. we find the siren song of the ringtone so hypnotizing that we find it hard to most everything else, our families and friends included.
Cell phone addiction is real. According to the Daily Mail, most people check their cell phones 100 times a day and judging from the number of people we see talking distractedly on their cell phones, that sounds like an underestimate.
If you find yourself becoming disgusted by your own obsession with your phone, New Year’s is a perfect time to break free of the habit. While trading in your phone for a flip phone might seem to be in line with trading in your mother for a new model, its option that’s sure to work. With the absence of all the bells and whistles, you’ll find yourself reaching for it a lot less often.
However, if access to social media is still something you’re not prepared to part with just yet, try something a little more moderate. Alan Alter, professor of marketing at NYU suggests turning off your non-essential notifications and keeping the phone as far from your hands as possible. Set aside time to check emails so you don’t find yourself wasting hours scrolling through your phone. Also, try to find a substitute for your phone addiction. Reading books and magazines are both good alternatives.