As another year comes to a close, thoughts of new beginnings and fresh starts are on our minds. We put up new calendars and our attitudes become hopeful for all the promises of a new year. It’s the perfect time to get in shape, eat better and become an overall happier person. Right?
But how many times have you made a New Year’s resolution and never really followed through? The standard “lose weight” and “stress less” empty promises we make ourselves often get derailed when reality sets in. Those broad, vague resolutions never really come to fruition. Let’s face it, change is hard – if it was easy, we would already be the perfect versions of ourselves.
Though it may seem impossible to finally stick to a resolution, there is a way. Instead of focusing on just one large issue altogether, break it up! Start with one small, specific goal that is actually attainable. Instead of “I want to lose weight” think, “I will go to that kickboxing class on Tuesdays.” Small changes over time will help move you along on the road to a better you.
Here are our five top picks for attainable resolutions that you can actually stick to!
A popular resolution in the New Year is “better my education” or “get a better job”. While most of us can’t afford (or don’t have the time) to go back to school for another degree, enrolling in a single course at a local community college (where the prices aren’t quite as steep) can be a fun, fulfilling commitment to bettering yourself and your education. Learn a language, sharpen your computer skills or take a business course. Even these small skills can help add extra edge to your resume – and will make you feel like you’re working towards something.
While most of us pledge that this year is the year to “get in shape”, that task is much easier said than done. Getting overweight and out of shape doesn’t take a few weeks (or even days) of effort – it’s the long-term effect of not taking care of yourself. So, in order to go the other way, it’ll take a long-term commitment of lots of smaller goals.
Try challenging yourself with one activity that will really make you work. No, it doesn’t have to be a marathon. Maybe you’ve always wanted to sweat it out in a Bikram yoga class, or maybe you’ve only ever been able to run one mile at a time. Push it two miles! Take the class! By accomplishing one thing, you may be surprised that you’ll want to continue.
Whether it’s that DIY remodel of your bathroom or that scrap book lying in your closet still unassembled, set aside some time and do it! Find something you’re passionate about – it’s hard to motivate for home improvement if you find it tedious – and get to work. After it’s finished, you’ll have a new train model, new scarf or even a new back splash in the kitchen that you can be proud of.
Another common New Year’s promise is “work on my relationship with…” Now this can be a tricky one. Just as your weight problems can’t be solved in a few sessions with a personal trainer, your relationship problems cannot be solved with a nice gesture.
But, it helps to start if you know who is important in your life. It helps to put in perspective the people you can really count on – and makes it easier to value your relationship. If your mother is your rock, don’t wait until she does something nice to thank her – let her know now how much she means to you. While no relationship is perfect, showing appreciation can help strengthen any bond.
Many people choose “travel more” as their resolutions. Breaking up the day-to-day with a little change is good for the mind, and traveling can expose you to a whole new culture. However, after booking transportation, accommodation and activities (not to mention food and drink), this goal can turn quite expensive - and fast.
Instead, set your sights on something more attainable. It could be that park you always drive past on your way to work. Or that museum downtown you’ve been meaning to go to but just never have. Stop waiting, and go! Even in your own neighborhood, you can always find new surprises that are worth checking out.
Author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin speaks with Lisa Oz and Jill Herzig on the You Turns podcast on the four tendencies.