My Favorite New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year

With 2015 reaching a close, I'm thinking about the New Year's Resolutions I'd like to make for 2016. With a new year comes new possibilities, and I'm looking forward to what the future will bring!

I've heard some negativity from people about making resolutions, and I'd like to address a few arguments here: 

Resolutions are pointless because they never stick.

Think of resolutions as goals to accomplish in the upcoming year. Why do we struggle to keep them? Part of it is because we often make very broad statements, such as "I'm going to go to the gym more" or "I'm going to lose weight" or "I'm going to spend less time watching TV". These are all great ideas, but they're not very specific. If you don't define how much more or less you want to do something, how can you possibly know if you're reaching that goal? 

Instead of setting big idealistic goals, get specific. If you want to go to the gym more, resolve to add 5 hours per week to your schedule devoted to that. It's specific, but it still allows you to be flexible and go when you can. Want to watch less TV? Decide to only spend X amount of hours watching your favorite shows each week, and think of other things you can resolve to do with your new found time. 

If we want to accomplish something, we should work towards something every day rather than making resolutions at the end of the year. 

This is a lovely idea, but do you stop each day and think about the goals you'd like to reach? I certainly don't! The end of the year gives us the opportunity to think back on our past accomplishments, and look ahead to the future. It's a solid marker for the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, which makes it an excellent time to reflect and set new goals.

No, it doesn't have to be on New Year's - it can be at any time during any year. But I do think it's important to take time out of our lives to contemplate these things, and make some changes where they're needed. 

Resolutions are unrealistic, and usually unattainable. 

Why are resolutions unrealistic? Is it because people decide on resolutions that are too difficult to attain, or because we don't have the will to tackle them? The first step is setting specific, measurable goals. The next step is making sure you're willing to put in the work to achieve them. 

For example: You want to get a promotion at work, but you also want to travel more. These are contradicting goals, as getting that promotion may mean putting in more time in the office - but travel will take you out of it. What goals are more important to you right now, and what are you willing to put in the effort to change? 

Even if you're great at keeping a resolution in the beginning, 6-months in, you've forgotten all about it. 

Hold yourself accountable! Tell friends and family about your resolution, and ask them to help keep you on track. Start a blog about it and share your thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Maybe even set a calendar reminder at the 6-month mark. If you want to make that resolution happen, it will take work! But having support from others and holding yourself accountable will help you stay motivated to keep going. 

I'll just be disappointed in myself if I don't keep my resolutions. 

First of all, don't EVER think of resolutions this way - you're setting yourself up for failure! If you've had trouble keeping resolutions in the past, just set one simple goal. That's it, just one. See how you do. 

Secondly, be forgiving of yourself. Resolutions, even simple ones, sometimes just don't happen. Don't beat yourself up about it. Reassess, and move forward. 

Thirdly, give it some time. It's not easy to create new habits, and you'll most likely slip up along the way. We all do! Just keep coming back to it, and remember why you made the resolution in the first place. It'll take time, but it'll be worth it. 

Photo by: Wes Butler

Photo by: Wes Butler

Here are some of my favorite New Year's Resolution ideas for the year 2016*: 

*these are not specific goals (an important part of making resolutions that I mentioned above). I kept them slightly more vague so that they could be a jumping-off point for your own ideas, and what you personally want to accomplish!

Stop drinking booze for a year! 

Well, duh. But seriously, it's been one of the best resolutions I've ever made. You don't have to do a full year, but a couple of weeks, a month, 3 months - any amount of time can make a huge difference in your life. I promise. 

Limit your phone usage time. 

Silence your phone 1-hour before bedtime. Put your phone away at dinner or when hanging out with friends. Limit the amount of time you spend playing around on apps. Resolving to do any number of these can be a valuable way to get back quality time with the things that truly matter. 

Decide to stop spending so much money on stuff you don't need. 

One person that inspires me every day is Anna from And Then We Saved. I highly encourage you to read her story! She decided to stop spending money on everything that was a non-essential for her, and paid off almost $24k of debt in 15 months. She learned a lot about herself, and about what she really needed in life in the process. 

I've mentioned these guys before, but The Minimalists are amazingly inspirational. They stopped spending money on stuff, and started seeing the world in a more simple, and more honest way. Their stories have made a huge impact on me.

Bike and walk more. 

We are WAY too dependent on our cars to get around. We sit in an office chair all day long, sit in our car to drive home, then sit on the couch to watch TV. Many, many studies have shown that our bodies do not respond well to being sedentary. 

If you're within 1 mile or so, allow a little extra time to get to your destination and walk it! Put in your headphones and listen to your favorite podcast along the way. If you're within 5 miles, hop on your bike! If you're new to biking, many cities offer bike safety classes for free (Denver has an amazing non-profit called The Bike Depot), and you can often find an inexpensive gently used cycle on Craigslist. You'll save money on gas, and get in more movement every day. It's a win-win!

Work towards doing something you've always wanted to do, but never have. 

Everyone has one of these, maybe even a few. Have you always wanted to try improv comedy? Learn how to cook? Learn how to speak Spanish? Dance the tango? Paint a sunset? Play the piano? There's no better time than now. And when you're on your death bed, you'll never have to think: "Dang, I wish I would have done that thing I always wanted to do."

I've emphasized this before, but just start with a small step. It'll get you going in the right direction. 

Learn to love yourself. 

This is a difficult one, but I believe very important. Working towards accepting and loving yourself for who you are - no matter what size you are, issues you have, or mistakes you've made - is a beautiful and honorable goal. 

Build better relationships. 

In whatever way this means to you. Whether it's through rebuilding your relationship with your parents or a sibling, or giving a friend your undivided attention when they need it  - it's wonderful to strengthen the ties between the people that you care about. 

Maybe even decide to be better about telling the people you love that you love them. Show them through your actions, and live it every day. You never know when they won't be with you anymore. 

Make your kindness constant. 

Whether it's spending time helping your community, or simply giving food to someone who needs it - it doesn't matter how big or how small. Be kind to people who serve you, and ring you up at the register. Smile. Let that car merge ahead of you in traffic. Be patient. Offer a hand even if you're not sure if someone needs it. Open a door for someone. When a friend is upset, offer a hug. Donate to a friend's cause - or a stranger's cause for that matter. Don't overthink it, just make kindness a priority in whatever way you can. 

What are your resolutions for 2016? Leave them in the comments below! 

Have a very happy holidays and a safe and exciting New Year!