Many people are prone to being cynical about New Year’s resolutions. But really, if you’ve ever successfully completed your resolutions, you know that the key to making good ones are practicality, discipline, resolve, and taking it one day at a time. Here are a few practical resolutions to make, that will simplify and improve the quality of your everyday life.
1. Make time to clean your surroundings three times a week, for half an hour each day. A drastic change to my life this year was realizing I didn’t have to spend four hours cleaning over the weekend if I just got it done in small increments throughout the week. It may not sound like a big change but it will de-stress your life almost overnight. Moreover, an organized physical space makes for a much more focused state of mind.
2. After you’re done cooking (and before or after eating), spend fifteen minutes doing dishes. I don’t know about you, but doing dishes always feels like the most tasking thing on the planet. Yet if you just spend a little time doing them each day, you won’t find yourself feeling annoyed and overwhelmed by constant piles of dirty dishes every four days. Fifteen minutes a day is all you need. And once you’re in the habit, after three weeks or so, it’ll just become a part of your daily routine.
3. Meditate intentionally for half an hour once a week. We get so caught up in making tangible or noticeable resolutions that sometimes we forget the best resolutions are of the heart, mind, and spirit. So endeavor to take maybe half an hour at the same time every week and just be silent and still, or read something from a book of faith or anything inspiring. This practice helps you to calm down in a world where all we’re ever doing is hurrying.
4. Open a new savings account separate from your main bank accounts. Set up sending a small amount, maybe even just $20 twice a month into your new account. (If you can, have a person you trust change the passwords so you can’t get into it.) By the end of the year, that’s $480. Yes, it’s difficult to save especially when you’re barely making it. And yes, it involves sacrifice. But what can you give up each week that will allow $20 to be left over? Maybe it’s eating out less. Maybe it’s those daily cups of coffee. Cut out from somewhere and you’ll find yourself better off.
5. Prepare your meals four times a week. If you’re not a natural-born cook, preparing meals can feel like a burden. So don’t begin by promising yourself you’ll turn into a master chef overnight. Instead pick three to four days during the week, where you can actually incorporate cooking into your schedule. And if you need it, find a simple (realistic) food blog or list of cooking recipes to follow. Cooking for yourself (from scratch) is one of the most important things you can do to be healthier as well as save money. And always cook enough to have left-overs for your off-cooking days.
6. Accepting where your physical fitness is, and making incremental progress. Find exercises you love, find someone to hold you accountable, and set up numerous reminders and motivational notes on your phone to get you going. Losing weight or “getting in shape” is almost always at the top of many people’s resolutions. But knowing how you’re going to achieve your goal is just as important as setting the goal. The key is to actually find exercises you want to do. If you hate running, try kickboxing or Zumba or some other form of cardio. If you hate weightlifting, try yoga or mat exercises for strength. And most importantly, remember that “getting in shape” is an arbitrary goal. Make your goals specific while also not imprisoning yourself to body numbers (a.k.a weight). For example, commit to running twice a week between January and March so that by the end of the first quarter you can run an 8k.
7. Read a set number of books a month and plan them out in advance. Education, as we’ve been told, doesn’t end when we stop going to school. And reading, aside from traveling, is how we get educated about the world around us. So join a book club, even online if you must, or plan your books in advance each month. If you don’t know what to read, ask yourself what really interests you. Ask others what they are reading. Pro-tip: Delete most your social media apps from your phone and all of a sudden you’ll find you have more time to read.
8. Make it a point to spend less time online. The amount of time we lose by constantly scrolling through our Twitter, Facebook, and other websites that we’re not learning and growing, is probably more than we think it is. And while we’re spending less time online, let’s make the effort to connect with more people in real life. While that’s not always possible, it’s always important to remember that we have to make time for the things and people we say matter to us.
9. Buying less, and needing less. It’s no secret that the more we have, the more we want. And indeed our wants are endless. But that doesn’t mean we should satisfy all of them. I think one thing we can practice to curb our desire for things is to promise ourselves that when we buy something new – from household items to shoes – we ought to also give something away. This year a mentor taught me the trick for buying less that I’ll pass onto you: Whenever you want to purchase something, calculate how many hours you have to work to earn that thing. That way of thinking will change your perspective on money and spending for a lifetime.
10. Find a reason to be grateful every day. Gratitude is not something that you should have only in big moments or reflective moments; it ought to be a way of life. And one thing you can do for yourself this year to teach you how to live that way of life is to obtain a notebook or journal, and write down something that you’re grateful for every day. The year is going to be full of many twists and turns, because every year is. But if you can still be thankful for something, your resolve to make each day, month, and year, better than the last, will stay with you always.
Happy New Year!