Picture this: It’s officially 2020. The ball has dropped, the music has stopped, and the remnants of the evening’s festivities are still scattered about your home. There couldn’t be a better time to reflect on the changes you’d like to make in the year ahead—and that’s where resolutions come in.
But you already know all about that. This after-party setting is common, and so is the push for change. And when that’s your mindset, it’s more likely for those plans to eventually fall short. Instead of feeling like you should make a resolution as part of the familiarity of a new year, let’s decide to link those good intentions to an action plan. We put together a list of the five most common New Year's resolutions, but we didn’t leave it there.
More than just hoping to eat better, exercise more, work harder, and be more involved, we’re providing ways for you to get started so that you might have the momentum to keep going. Because when it comes to resolutions, we don’t want you to only feel the thrill of a possible reinvention. We want you to feel the confidence rooted in actual change.
Common resolution: I want to exercise more often
This resolution is the basis for most television commercials until March: People have overindulged from Halloween through Christmas, and now they feel the need to get back on track. The first thing you should remember is that changing your exercise habits is tough, and it’ll take consistency to get past those first difficult workouts.
Start slowly—perhaps at 20 minutes a day—and work your way up to more strenuous exercises. Keep going by trying new workouts to get your blood pumping—like swims at the community pool, runs around the neighborhood, and ClassPass offers, and invite friends to join in.
Bonus Tip: Podcasts are great ways to track your time during workouts. Music isn’t the only option!
Common resolution: I want to eat healthier
Much like exercising regularly, turning healthy eating into a routine takes time. It isn’t easy to go from having dessert every night to suddenly cutting yourself off from sweets. Instead of opting for the cold-turkey option of clearing your kitchen of every cookie, ice cream carton, and candy wrapper immediately, be gradual.
Tell yourself you can eat desserts, but only once or twice a week. Be kind to yourself as you make these adjustments, too. On the flip side, give yourself a chance to adapt to healthier foods. Make meal plans of nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes, and try to stick to them as best as you can. As unhealthy foods are pushed to the periphery, it’ll be easier to leave them there.
Bonus Tip: Sticking to simple and fast recipes will make this switch easier on your schedule. Look for recipes that can be made with sheet pans, Instant Pots, and slow-cookers so that your hands-on time is minimal.
Common resolution: I want a better job
This one is a little more complicated. Do you want a better job, are you looking for a promotion, or are you ready to go elsewhere? If you’re looking for a career change, the first thing you should do is ask yourself this question: What’s the best career move for this year?
Once you answer that question, develop a plan. What do I need to do to get started on this in the coming weeks? Who should I talk to about this—my manager, my mentor, a professional contact? What do I need to do to prepare for that conversation?
Making any sort of career change will take time and support, so don’t think that you’ve failed if you don’t have a new job by the spring. As long as you’ve outlined a plan, researched other people in the position you want, and looked into the financial aspects of the switch, then you’re on the right track.
Bonus Tip: If you’re feeling stuck at your current job, try not to feel alone. There are plenty of success stories about people who moved up in their careers by making changes, and sometimes it helps to read their stories.
Common resolution: I want to take control of my finances
According to a 2017 study in NerdWallet, the average American household that had credit card debt was carrying a balance of $15,482. Given that this debt doesn’t cover car loans and student loans, it’s no wonder feeling financially insecure is something most people want to fix as part of their New Year’s resolution.
In order to know where you stand with your money, you have to make a list of your finances. Write down everything you spend money on in a month: rent or mortgage, healthcare, student loans, car insurance, and so on. Those are your fixed expenses. Then, look over bank statements to see what you spent money on that you didn’t need. How much did those purchases impact your monthly budget? If it’s a lot, then it’s good that you know—now you can make adjustments. Now ask yourself, “What do I want my money to do for me?”
Start by paying down debt as soon as you can, and use automated payments as much as possible. Look into setting up a retirement account or investments, if you don’t have them already. Then, make it a habit to eat out only if there’s a special occasion. Furthermore, try to wear what you own in as many ways as possible, or ask friends to do a clothing swap, if you’re trying to break a shopping habit. As with all of these resolutions, dedication and time is the key to success.
Bonus Tip: If you’re not sure how to approach your debt, or you’re looking to invest as you pay debt down, it might be a good idea to consult a financial analyst.
Common resolution: I want to be a better friend, partner, and all-around person
If you’re feeling like you haven’t spent much time with your loved ones lately, or that you should be committing some of your time to volunteer efforts, then that’s great! The best thing about this resolution is that reconnecting with friends and family should be easier than paying down debt and working out regularly.
First, find something you’d like to do and invite your loved one along. This can be as simple as going to a museum or a park, or seeing a movie together—quality time doesn’t have to be expensive. After, ask if they would like to plan the next get-together, and set a date to do so before you leave.
Lastly, look for volunteer opportunities in your hometown, and make a plan to go at least once a month. It’ll be even better if a friend comes along, so invite one, too. As you set aside time for loved ones in your life, you’ll notice how much richer your life becomes.
Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to schedule dates with partners! It sounds silly, we know, but when life gets busy, it’s the best way to stay connected.