If you make New Year’s resolutions and ditch them by the time February arrives, you’re in good company. It’s estimated that a third of us get no further than January.
Because resolutions are often too huge and too vague, and that makes them overwhelming.
If you want next year to be different, you need a game plan that sets out small steps to achieve big results.
What If I Slip up?
It doesn’t matter if you fall off the wagon—cultivating a new habit can take months.
A few days missed here and there won’t affect your overall goal. Just get up and start again. If your steps are realistic, it won’t be too big a fall. We all make mistakes, and it’s important to forgive yourself if you want to see real change.
Here are 8 top resolutions with a “why and how” plan to help you achieve your goal this year.
Getting fit is a top New Year’s resolution, but “getting fit” is vague. Here’s how you can do it.
Perhaps you’ve had a health scare or you’ve got constant tech neck.
Rather than exercising the same way every day, go swimming on Monday, take a walk around the block on Wednesday, and on Saturday, do a gym session or aerobics class.
You could also set yourself a monthly fitness target. For example, a 60-second plank by the end of January.
Achieve this with a ten-second plank in the first week, 30 in the second week, 40 in the third, and your target 60-second plank by the fourth week.
You could also walk more by getting off the bus early, power walk at lunchtime, and incorporate a few yoga stretches when you’re watching TV in the evening.
These easy self-care steps make a healthy living goal actually achievable.
Because your diet is poor, you’re lacking energy, you want to look healthier, and you need to fend off disease.
Changing your diet is a big deal.
We take energy, comfort, and enjoyment from food, so throwing out your usual starchy and sweet foods in favor of a fridge full of kale will make you cry and give up after a few days.
Instead, begin to phase out processed food by cooking from scratch once a week. Cook more than you need and freeze it for a midweek health boost.
You can also make one day a week plant-based, one day a week free from treats, and cut out one cup of coffee each day.
These are baby steps that easily improve your diet.
Maybe there’s an event this year and you want to look good there.
Controlling your diet and fitness levels with the small steps above will make a big difference to your weight, but there are other ways, too.
Get more sleep. When you’re asleep, you aren’t eating—plus, studies show more shut-eye equals less snacking the following day.
If you like tech, get an app that monitors your food intake, but always eat at a table with no electronic devices. Eating on the go, in front of the TV, or while scrolling on your social media feed prevents your brain from realizing it’s eaten.
You could also make a date each Wednesday to go swimming with a friend. You’re more likely to go if you fear to let your friend down.
Another step is going dry for a week each month. Cutting out alcohol reduces calorie intake and gives your liver a well-deserved break.
Who couldn’t do with more spare cash? This is a regular resolution that’s often obliterated in the January sales.
Is there something you want? A new car, holiday, or house deposit, for example. Remind yourself each day why it’s important to you.
Swap your debit card for cash. Take out the money you’ve allocated for a week and only use that. It’s easier to register disappearing cash and rein in your Starbucks spending accordingly.
You could also set up an automatic savings transfer on your bank account so you’re forced to save.
Going out costs a lot, so make free or cheap dates with friends such as walking in the park or coffee at your house. These are called frugal joys, and we don’t do enough of them.
You should also tell family and friends that you’re saving for a special something so they don’t suggest expensive nights out.
Once you’ve established these money-saving habits, research ways to generate a second income. Complete paid surveys, for example, or set up a monetized blog.
Lots of us struggle with confidence and mental health issues ranging from shyness to clinical depression.
You want to make more friends, improve your working life, and feel less stressed.
Improving your confidence is a tricky thing, so small steps are essential.
You can start by mono-tasking. It sounds odd, but brains are programmed to do one thing at a time. Set a timer and write your report for thirty minutes. No emails, no coffee break, no eating.
These mono-segments are so productive, they’ll boost confidence in your abilities.
If it’s social situations you struggle with, suggest a get-together at work—something small, maybe a coffee during Tuesday lunchtimes. Chatting and making friends boosts your mental health. We all need more friends.
If you can afford to, take a course. Extending your knowledge is a great self-confidence booster. If money is tight, then volunteer. Charities need volunteers, and this is a great way to boost your confidence with people and feel like you’re giving back.
It also looks great on your CV, which leads us to number six.
You feel underappreciated, underpaid, or in the wrong career.
Keep in touch with colleagues who have moved on. This is networking at its finest.
Set a reminder in your calendar to contact them once a month. Most jobs are filled by word of mouth, so make sure your name is first on their lips if a job opening comes up.
You should also let your manager know you’re ready for a new challenge. Ask for an assignment to another section or more responsibility in your current role. If nothing happens after a month, ask again.
In the evenings, you could update your CV so you’re ready to go if something comes up, improve your Linkedin profile, clean up social media because potential new bosses check for Facebook atrocities, and read the job pages twice a week.
These small steps make you feel as if you’re making progress toward a new career and give you the impetus to keep going.
This one is a new resolution on the block, but it’s gaining popularity.
You feel miserable and unhappy compared to everyone else, and it’s affecting your mental health.
FOMO—that’s fear of missing out—is a real thing. It’s when you’re worried about missing an update or feeling inadequate compared to all the amazing stuff you see on Facebook.
Every day, try to remember that social media is just a showreel of the best bits. That amazing romantic photo took twenty shots, and now they’re arguing.
You may feel panicked about missing out, but a social media holiday is great for self-care. Just tell people you’re taking a break so they don’t think the worst!
For the first week, limit yourself to two social media checks a day; the following week, drop down to one; and in the third week, put Facebook on snooze, then delete Twitter, Pinterest and any other social media apps from your phone.
Fill your spare time with reading, cooking, exercising, learning a new skill, or catching up with real-life friends.
You feel lonely, miss your friends, and it’s affecting your mental health.
Facebook isn’t enough to keep your mental health in good order. In fact, it can be detrimental, but seeing your friends more often is a big task, since we’re all pressed for time.
Instead of scrolling cat memes in the evening, phone a friend for a real-life chat. It’s a good step toward connecting more.
Once a month, plan to meet a friend in person. Set this up at the beginning of the year. If you put regular dates in the planner, it makes it easier to meet up.
Choose a frugal joy like a picnic or coffee at your home if going out is too much expense. We don’t always want to spend $100 on cocktails, and chatting over a hot coffee in your kitchen is just as good.
Take Consistent Baby Steps to Achieve Your Resolutions
Taking regular baby steps is the only way to create long-lasting results and big changes.
Remind yourself each day why you’re sticking to a resolution, treat each day like January 1, and forgive yourself when you slip up.
This time around, the New Year truly equals a New You.