How To Set New Year’s Resolutions That You’ll Keep (Part 1 of 2)

Most people look forward to January 1.  It’s the start of a new year and a chance for a do-over.  All of the resolutions that you made last year and didn’t keep can be made again with even more conviction.  And possibly, even more chance for failure.

According to Oliver Burkeman, author of Newsweek magazine’s The New Year’s Resolutions That Won’t Fail You, 89% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.  Only 46% are successful in achieving them six months later.  The problem?  We make goals that are so ambitious they are nearly impossible to pull off.  If we want to be successful we need to establish process goals where we can have small wins that help keep the momentum going.

Burkeman says that Buddhist-influenced Japanese psychologist Shoma Morita recommends forgetting about making New Year’s resolutions and “get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die.”

A new year means a new you if you put an action plan in place now.

A new year means a new you if you put an action plan in place now.

The Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions

A survey conducted by the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, found that the ten most common New Year’s resolutions are:

1.   Have more fun.

2.   Relax and reduce stress.

3.   Spend more time with family.

4.   Eat better.

5.   Exercise more.

6.   Reduce spending.

7.   Save for financial emergency.

8.   Make more time for yourself.

9.   Reduce debt.

10. Lose Weight

All ten of these will lead to better overall health and happiness if they are achieved.  But setting a goal to have more fun is impossible to do unless you set some smaller, specific goals that are designed to increase your fun.

Below are five small, attainable process goals for each of the ten resolutions.  Integrating a few of these tips into your life will give you those small wins that will keep you moving towards the bigger goal.

Have More Fun 

  • Live in the moment.  This is one of the ten principles of leadership.  And happiness.  It’s impossible to have fun or enjoy what you’re doing now if you’re worrying about what happened yesterday and what’s going on tomorrow.  Practice being in the now.
  • Once a month connect with a friend that you’ve been too busy to spend time with.  Catch up over lunch or coffee, share stories, reminisce and laugh.
  • Do something for someone less fortunate than you. Volunteer for an hour at the local food pantry or animal shelter, pick up groceries for your elderly neighbor, or clean out a closet and donate the clothes to Goodwill.  Nothing feels better than being on the giving end does.
  • Get out of your weekend rut of doing chores.  Visit an art museum, attend a play at the local theatre, rent Eat, Pray, Love (or your favorite movie) again and watch it one more time.
  • Turn off the switch on negative thinking.  We think thousands of thoughts every day.  Most of them are repetitive and negative.  Retrain your brain to push away the negative thoughts with positive one and avoid negative target fixation.

Relax and Reduce Stress

  • Find a quiet place where you can meditate for five minutes each day.
  • Turn off the TV and replace it with relaxation music.  The sounds of nature, waves, and quiet instrumentals can lower your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure and quiet your nerves.
  • Take slow, deep cleansing breaths.  When stress hits, breathe in slowly while you count to ten and back out the same way three to five times.  Focus only on your breath.
  • Fill the room with scent.  Lavender is known to be the best fragrance for stress reduction.  Fill the bath tub with lavender oil and bathe in it or light a lavender scented candle.  Johnson & Johnson’s lavender baby wash and lotion is the best deal in town.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and sugar.  All three can impact your stress level in a negative way.  A cup of green or black tea instead of coffee, wine or a sweet treat will help you stay calm.

Spend More Time With Family

  • Eat dinner as a family. Cook at least two meals at home each week at a time when everyone can sit at the table, enjoy the food and talk about their day.
  • Once a month, instead of watching TV, have game night where the family stays in and plays Apples to Apples or has a Wii sports competition.
  • Involve the entire family in the weekly chores that need to be done.  Delegating tasks and setting a time each week when everyone will work together to get them done takes the pressure off of one person and encourages teamwork.
  • Teach the children how to cook.  There are a number of cookbooks specifically for children.  When you engage them in kitchen they can learn about nutrition and learn a life skill while you spend quality time together.
  • Plan an activity each month that everyone agrees to participate in.  Bowling, hiking, biking, paint ball, and participating in a 5K fun run/walk are all fun activities that families can do together.

Eat Better

  • Replace butter and margarine in recipes with heart healthy oils like olive and canola.
  • Switch from eating processed breads, rice, and pastas for the whole wheat or whole grain versions that are higher in both fiber and nutrition.
  • Brown bag it for lunch.  Use leftovers from the evening meal or spend a few minutes in the evening to pack a lunch for the next day.  For healthy brown-bag lunch ideas read: You Deserve More Than A Spongey Lean Cuisine For Lunch.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.  This doesn’t mean that you have to go Vegan.  Eating just one additional serving of fruits and vegetables each day will provide extra vitamins and fiber.
  • Eat more lean protein. Compared to carbs and fat, protein keeps you feeling fuller longer. Some excellent sources of low-calorie proteins are a can of tuna, a lean chicken breast, boiled eggs and legumes.

Exercise More

  • Sit for sixty, move for three.  For every hour that you sit, get up and move around for three minutes.  Small doses of exercise throughout the day that break up the sitting will do wonders for your health.
  • Use screen time wisely.  Make it a point to exercise during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV shows. You can work your core and arms, and even get a cardio workout in during the ads.
  • Set aside 10 minutes a day.  Take just ten of the minutes that you spend on Facebook each day and do one of these 10-minute workouts.  You don’t need an hour or a gym membership to stay fit.
  • Wear a pedometer and track your steps.  Set a goal each day and see how you do.  Wearing a pedometer will increase your awareness and motivate you to move more each day.
  • Pick three days a week and take a 15-minute walk on your lunch hour.

This is Part 1 Of A 2 Part Article

Next we’ll look at tips for reducing spending, saving for a financial emergency, making more time for yourself, reducing debt and the big one . . . . . . losing weight!

To read part 2 of How To Set New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Keep click here.

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