About one in three Americans make a New Year’s resolution. Resolutions are a great tradition, offering us an opportunity to kick bad habits, create new opportunities, soften the rough edges of our behavior, and polish up relationships. The trick, of course, is sticking with it.
Just in case you were sitting around wondering which one of the zillions of promises you’d like to make to yourself, we’ve collected 10 resolutions that are relatively easy to keep and will certainly go a long way toward a healthier and happier 2016.
1. More FTF and less TXT. It’s easy to think that a random text now and then can substitute for a real conversation if you’re working on keeping relationships with friends and relatives strong. It doesn’t. Try talking to your friends and relatives more IN PERSON, or at least hear their voices. Use tech like FaceTime and Skype more. Put DOWN the phone while you eat or talk with others. You will find the quality of your relationships improve, your fingers aren’t as sore from texting, and you’ll avoid that $300 texting-while-driving traffic ticket, too.
2. Watch what you eat. Notice we didn’t say “lose weight”. That’s because that goal can’t be done without adjusting other things that are important to your overall health, like your diet. Don’t vow to cut out those Starbucks lattes “cold turkey”, it won’t work. Instead, pace yourself. Switch things up. Find new refreshing rewards for those long work days. Say no to a couple of fast food restaurants each week and cook. Meal prep instead of dining out on busy days. You’ll see results AND this behavioral change will go a long way to working on habits that are causing you to be heavier than you want.
3. Start a new good habit. Many people promise themselves they will quit smoking, or lay off the morning breakfast biscuit, or head to the gym more. These resolutions fail because they try to instantly change a habit learned over a long time, and it’s difficult to change behavior sometimes. So why not think of changes like these as forming a NEW habit. It takes about 21 days to create a new habit. That means creating a schedule of your new habit, like taking a morning walk, or reducing your smoking habit, that lasts at least 21 days. Plan a REWARD after 21 days, but not something that starts a new bad habit.
4. Get more massage. About 1 in 4 Americans will get a massage in 2015. It’s a fast growing way to promote wellness, relaxation and recovery. Massage therapists (don’t call us masseuses!) are the 5th fastest growing profession, too, so there will be plenty of qualified pros out there. There are lots of types of massage, Swedish, sports, pre-natal, warm-stone, Thai–each can be tuned for maximum effectiveness to help meet your massage goals. Couple’s massage is also available, so you can take a friend! Massage is one of those things that you really can’t appreciate until you’ve had one–a GOOD one. So choose your therapist carefully.
5. Save a little more money. The easiest way to save money isn’t just finding a sale. It means creating an emergency fund so when life throws you a curve, you’re ready. A simple way to save money is to start looking at your spending habits and reduce spending in one or two areas, putting the difference in what you would have spent into savings. For example, start watching your favorite shows on Neftlix or Hulu instead of paying huge bucks for cable. Put the difference into a savings account. THAT will add up quickly and you’ll feel less stress. You can also re-examine your smart phone bills, refinance your mortgage, renegotiate loans (yes you can do that!), . All great ways to “redirect” money you already have for use on a rainy day.
6. Learn something new. This is one of our favorite resolutions because the possibilities are endless. Whether you choose to learn using online resources, like YouTube, or go a more formal route with an online or in-person official course of study, you will feel better, more accomplished, and happier, when you are learning something. Not sure what you want to learn? Try choosing one topic each month and find out more–learn to cook a recipe with quinoa in January, and how to get stains out of your carpet in February, rid your computer of viruses easily in March. Or take up a new trade altogether. Go to cooking school. Learn to repair a motorcycle. Take a painting course. Become a certified massage therapist. It feels great to learn, really, and even if you consider yourself “not the best student”, consider this–it matters if you are passionate about what you are learning, a lot. If you WANT to be there learning, your attitude, and your performance, will be focused on success and you will do well.
7. Sleep. It may seem obvious, but sleep time is so very important to overall wellness. It’s FREE, and most of us don’t get nearly enough. Sleep is the time when our body redirects energy toward healing, and our brain gets a rest from the stresses of the day. Trouble sleeping? There are lots of things to try. Grab a new pillow, and see if you can add just 30 minutes a night to your sleep routine. Your body, and the people around you, will thank you.
8. Party healthier. That’s code for several things, like drinking less, and shifting the focus of your social activities from having a few drinks, to more active endeavors, like exercise, or healthy foods, or great films. If the first thing that comes into you mind when you hear “party” is “getting messed up”, it’s time to put your adult pants on and redirect your efforts to something that contributes more to wellness than liver disease, traffic accidents, ridiculous social media posts and relationship disasters.
9. Be more kind. It’s easy to choose a resolution that focuses only on self improvement, but why not choose something that’s easy to do, and helps both you AND the rest of the planet. Kindness means being more considerate, or helpful, of others. It means holding a door open, or helping a friend in need, motioning for that car stuck in the parking lot to go ahead before you, or volunteering your time for a good cause. Being kind is generally FREE and is a behavior that will come back to reward you 1000 times over.
10. Cherish the gifts you have been given. No matter who you are, you have gifts. It may be a cheery personality, stunning calves, a penchant for design, a genetic predisposition to solve a crossword puzzle in under 8 minutes, world class web design skills, being a good friend to someone, raising a great kid, or the ability to get your lazy tail out of bed on time every day. These things we all take for granted. In this new year, appreciate the gifts you have and know that with a little effort, you can make them even better.
Cheers to you as you make 2016 a happier, healthier year!