If, like me, you have a tendency to make well-intentioned New Year's resolutions that you don't stick to -- or don't stick to for long -- then we both need this blog post!
In preparation for the upcoming new year, I made this list of ten resolutions that are realistic, yet also have the potential to be truly life changing. I also wanted to beat my previous record of forgetting about my resolution by mid-February, so I have included a three-step process to help you and I accomplish what we set out to do.
10 Life Changing New Year's Resolutions
1. Make a Bucket List -- and check at least one thing off!
No matter what age we are, we should all have a bucket list. This list should contain all of the things that you would be upset that you did not do, if you 'kicked the bucket' tomorrow. If you need some inspiration, check out the blog post '101 Things to do Before You Die' on PersonalExcellence.co, which provides great ideas to get you started.
2. Learn to cook
With his Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver has taken on the challenge of educating schools and teaching kids to cook, to battle the youth obesity epidemic. If kids can do it, everyone can learn some quick and easy recipes that don't require too many ingredients. Head to a bookstore and purchase a cookbook that focuses on healthy, easy meals. The simpler the recipes, the more likely you will be to make healthy dishes at home.
3. Keep a journal
Writing in a journal is a great way to relieve stress. It is a private place where you can vent your frustrations with life, then let them go. Lifehacker says that regular writing has mental health benefits, fosters creativity and increases productivity. Start journaling to begin receiving these benefits today.
4. Go for daily walks
Going for short, daily walks is a realistic goal that almost all of us can accomplish. The Mayo Clinic states that walking has many benefits, including weight control, prevention of serious illnesses (such as heart disease and diabetes), and prevention of osteoporosis. It also helps gives a mental boost, which is especially important during the long winter months.
5. Get an extra hour of sleep
Vow to sleep for an extra hour each night in 2016. According to the Huffington Post, getting just one additional hour of sleep has several benefits, including: activating genes that protect against diabetes, cancer, inflammation and stress; boosting athletic performance; and, decreasing your risk of heart attack.
6. Eat salad everyday
Adding a side salad to your dinner each night could help you lose weight, be healthier and live longer. If you want to learn more, check out the Web MD article "4 Healthy Reasons to Eat a Salad Today", which discusses the health benefits of eating salads that contain fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats.
7. Drink green tea
Commit to swapping your second or third cup of coffee for a cup of green tea. According to Authority Nutrition, green tea is the "healthiest beverage on the planet." It can improve brain function and dental health. It also promotes fat loss and may reduce your risk of many diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
8. Take up reading
In an age where almost everything we do requires technology, it's nice to open a paperback and turn the pages until we learn where the story goes! Reading allows us to experience different times and cultures from the comfort of our own living rooms. It also increases our vocabularies and improves our spelling, amongst other benefits.
9. Work one less hour a day
If you know that you work too much, this is the resolution for you! Scale back your workday by an hour, and spend that time with people you care about, or taking care of yourself (exercising, relaxing, etc.). Recent research shows that working longer hours does not necessarily mean accomplishing more. If you are interested in learning more, check out this Inc. article about Sweden's six-hour workday.
10. Spend money on experiences
Resolve to start spending your money on experiences, not things. Fast Company recently published an article called 'The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things', which explains why we get more happiness from experiences than we do from material possessions. Experience travel, try something new, or learn a new skill and see long-lasting benefits in your life.
How To Keep Your Resolution
Once you decide what your resolution(s) will be this year, it's time to make a plan for ensuring success. To make your New Year's Resolution stick, adopt this three step process:
(a) Write your resolution down in as much detail as possible
Grab a pad of paper and write down your resolution, as well as why you're doing it and how you will get there. Keep your resolution in a place where you can see it, such as on the refrigerator, to remind you of your goal for 2016.
(b) Tell a friend or family member about your resolution
Letting loved ones know about your resolution helps keep you accountable, and can provide you with encouragement on days when you're feeling less motivated.
(c) Take action immediately
Don't procrastinate or tell yourself that you will start 'next Monday'. Momentum is a powerful thing, so start taking steps toward achieving your resolution immediately.
For a great article that covers the above steps in more depth, I recommend Forbes' '6 Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year's Resolution'.
I hope that you found these suggestions for New Year's Resolutions and the guide for accomplishing them helpful, and that they inspire you to do something to improve your own life.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year!
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Take the time at the beginning of the year to go through your mailing lists and unsubscribe from all but the essentials, Lisa Gasson of New York suggests. It’s a good way to clear out inbox clutter, and also to reduce shopping temptation from constant emails from merchants. Try using Unroll.me to unsubscribe easily and keep things manageable going forward.
Take some of the time you spend mindlessly poking around on the internet and spend it with an actual book, says Megan Hamilton of Ontario. That’s her resolution for the coming year, and she’s solicited suggestions from friends for recent favourites to add her her library list.
After a couple of tough years for the her own health and that of her family, Carol-Ann Cole of Newfoundland and Labrador decided to cut out the little things she couldn’t control, including those to do with the lives of other people. "I try now to not gossip -- well, maybe just a little juicy stuff, ha ha -- and just live each day happy and healthy,” Cole says. "So far it’s working and I feel so much happier and contented."
Dry skin getting you down? That’s worth a small resolution all on its own, especially during Canada’s dry winters. "After making big, thought-out resolutions -- and then feeling stress and guilt about not keeping them -- about 15 years ago, I resolved to put lotion on everyday after showering,” says Erika Serviss-Low of the Yukon. “Easy to do, no guilt, and -- after scratching my skin raw and frantically searching for lotion by mid-day -- life changing."
Jenny Hinko Polischuk of Alberta picks a theme for her family for each year and focuses on that instead of a specific resolution. "Our theme was to 'CHOOSE HAPPY’!,” she says of their 2015 theme. "I got it printed in vinyl and put it up on a wall in our kitchen. I also found a great print on Etsy and framed it. To kick it off we brainstormed as a family situations where we consciously have to choose happiness. We put that up in our mud room about 3 feet high so my little women could see it."
Instead of picking a resolution that restricts or removes something, pick something that adds joy to your life. "I do ones that make me feel good, not that are challenges,” Julia Cain of New Jersey says of her resolutions. "'Say yes to travel,' for example, which will be a continuing resolution this year, or 'snuggle with babies as much as possible.’"
If you do want to make a list of things to accomplish this year, break it all into a very specific itemized list—maybe 101 items for the year, or a number that makes sense for you. "those worked really well because they were incremental and accumulative,” says Lisa Schmeiser of California of her itemized lists for the year, "so by the end of the year, I had momentum and completed tasks on my side."
"One of my students gave me great advice: Make three tiers of resolutions,” says Vanessa Vakharia of Ontario. Make the first tier something easy to immediately implement, like wearing eyeshadow or flossing daily. Get a bit higher-concept for tier two: a promise to run regularly, for example. And then think big for the third, like finishing your degree or planning a major trip. "I think it's a good way to level goals out so that you can get instant gratification, which motivates you to work towards those higher level goals,” she says.
"I don't know if they're resolutions, but every year I go back and assess how I'm doing as far as becoming the person I want to be,” says Carolyne Whelan. Think about how you respond to strangers, your friends and family, how you treat yourself, and the way you move about in the world. "Obviously there is a lot of tweaking, but since it's all a learning process with a wide curve, every year just presents the opportunity to be closer to the person I want to spend all my time with,” she says.
What’s something you enjoy, that is easy to do and adds a bit of light to your day? Pick something, then do more of it! "A few years ago, my only resolution -- after years of the same 'lose ten pounds, learn Spanish, write a novel' flailed if not failed -- was 'sing more,’” says Paige Conner Totaro of Virginia. "I did and it felt great. The next year it was 'dance more.’"
Is there something you need to do, even want to do, that you keep finding a way to get around or avoid or not actually work on? Stop doing that, and just do the work—every day, over and over, says Jennifer Polk of Ontario. You’ll get a lot more done if you put the energy you spend worrying, procrastinating, avoiding, and over-planning into just doing. "Everything's better when you do the work,” she says.
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