Some of us make them half-heartedly, some of us do it with great purpose. Few of us actually achieve our goals by the end of the year. Maybe it’s because making resolutions just after the holidays is particularly bad timing, what with our tendencies to overindulge, overspend, and generally let the chips fall where they may. Or maybe it’s because we are completely unrealistic or entirely too vague with our resolutions.
The good news is that even some of the worst resolutions can work if we eliminate broad statements and boil them down to specifics.
10 Worst New Year’s Resolutions and How to Make Them Work
1. Join a Gym
Ah, the January gym membership. We all know how that one turns out. Gyms are brimming with activity in January, but no so much come April. It’s an expensive lesson.
If you really want to exercise, make a long-term plan. Begin with walking or other easy or moderate exercises that you can do in your home or around your neighborhood. Gradually increase your exercise level and stick to your long-term plan. If by May or June, you’re still at it, you may be ready for that gym membership after all. The key is to carefully investigate the details of gym membership so you can determine how and when it will fit into your life.
2. Go on a Diet
The problem is that “going on a diet” is setting yourself up for failure. Unless your doctor has recommended a very specific diet for a health condition, you should just forget about strict diets and fad diets because eventually, you’re bound to stray.
Instead of a “diet,” think about eating for optimal health and wellbeing, and think about it as a lifetime plan, not something with an expiration date. Even if a specific weight is your ultimate goal, a lifetime plan of eating for health will eliminate that temptation to go back to your old ways once your reach your desired weight.
3. Spend More Time with Family and Friends
Many people make this resolution, but few manage to achieve it. We spend so many hours running errands, doing chores, and earning a living that we have little time or energy left over for the good stuff. It’s a nice thought, but too vague.
What will change in the coming year that will enable you to fulfill this resolution? Make a plan that includes specifics about how you can streamline your “to do” list. Then get real about it. Create a family game night; schedule a day out with your sister; host a gathering for your friends. Choose one activity per week, per month, or even per year. Whatever you do, circle the date on the calendar and make it part of your “to do” list rather than that thing you only do if time permits.
4. Get Organized
Don’t we all want to be more organized? If you’ve let this one go too long, the prospect can be overwhelming, That’s why so many people begin with good intentions but give up in frustration.
Break this resolution into stages. What needs organization? Your car…your home…your office? Break each down into manageable segments and give yourself a time limit. If your house is a mess, make a list of each room. Break that down into smaller segments, if you need to. Start with a closet or a chest of drawers. Set small goals so you can gauge results. There is no time limit necessary and you can begin to feel your progress immediately…which just might give you the incentive you need to continue on your quest.
5. Stop Being Stressed
Stress is part of life, so we cannot hope to eliminate all stress. We can learn to eliminate some unnecessary stresses in our lives and to manage others better, but just wishing it doesn’t make it so.
Identify your key stresses. If they can be avoided by simply NOT doing something, perhaps it’s time to cut those things out of your life. If that’s not an option, you must learn how to manage those stresses and keep them in perspective. Some popular stress reducers are:
- physical exercise
- breathing exercises
- martial arts like tai chi
- professional counseling or therapy
Sign up for courses in relaxation techniques that appeal to you. It may help to engage in these activities on a regular basis and you may find it easier to stick to it if it involves a group setting.
6. Stop Smoking/Drinking
Have you made this resolution before? Deeply engrained or physically addictive habits are hard to break and it often takes several tries. If you messed this one up before, it doesn’t mean you have failed. It only means you have to begin again. Right now. Whether it’s smoking, drinking, or some other bad habit, it’s a good idea to quit and you certainly don’t need a new year’s resolution to do it.
Seek medical advice and think about joining an addicts group where you can find the support you need.
7. Get Finances in Order
That’s about as vague as it gets, but your financial picture shouldn’t be vague. While the economy is to blame for a lot of your problems, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless.
It’s all about numbers and it takes careful planning and close attention to details. This resolution takes some serious work. It’s time to download a good computer program or pull out the old bookkeeping paper and a pencil. Identify both your short and long term goals. Take careful accounting of your outstanding debt and sources of income. Make a budget and stick to it. If you’re really serious, a meeting with an accountant or financial planner is in order.
8. Change Job/Career
Easier said than done in this job market, that’s for sure. Do you know what you want to do? Do you have the skills and qualifications necessary to do it? How big a change are you willing to make? Would you relocate…take less pay…accept fewer benefits? Are you willing to risk security to fulfill your dream? Whether or not this is a realistic goal depends on your answers to those questions.
If you decide to make a change, it’s got to be more than a pipe dream. You need an action plan that includes research into the what, where, why, and how of it. Network with others who share your goals and ask a lot of questions. Once you’ve set your sights on your goal, don’t let a few setbacks get to you. This one takes persistence and some serious determination, but the potential rewards are many. If you don’t land your dream career this year, don’t quit. Ever.
No sense making the resolution if you don’t intend to carry it out. If you only get two weeks a year off from your job and you have to spend that time visiting family or working on the house, making a travel resolution may just cause frustration. On the other hand, even if budget and time are tight, you can always plan on weekend getaways close to home.
If you have the time and the money, start thinking about where in the world you’d like to visit. Do you enjoy only the destination, or is travel part of the charm? Plane, train, automobile, or ship? Do you want to be a typical tourist, or do you prefer to see how the locals live? Are you a loner or do you want a traveling companion? City or country? Mountain or sea?
Visit online travel sites or check in with a travel specialist, but start planning today — before another year gets away from you.
It’s so easy to say you want to volunteer, but it’s also way too easy to save this one for another day.
If you aspire to do good, there’s no time like the present to turn that aspiration into reality. Volunteering requires some commitment on your part, so it’s best to choose carefully. Find something that feels meaningful to you. Which of your talents or strengths can you use to help others? Organizations like VolunteerMatch.org can help match you up with volunteer opportunities in your area. You’ll be amazed to find out just how needed you are. Take that first step now.