As the new year quickly approaches, many people will begin to make resolutions to live healthier, save more money, try new things, or to simply change their life for the better. Many view the new year as a fresh start—a time to finally do those things that we put off during the year because we’re too busy or don’t have the resources. Although approximately 80 percent of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions sometime after the first of the year, setting resolutions for yourself is a great first step toward inciting change in your life. You just have to do it strategically.
The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions (74 percent to be exact) are either weight/health or money related. Losing weight, adopting a healthier lifestyle, spending less, and saving more are some of the most common resolutions. Unfortunately, they’re also some of the most commonly abandoned resolutions due to the amount of time and dedication it takes to achieve these goals.
However, by setting realistic expectations for yourself and making attainable resolutions, there’s nothing to stop you from reaching your goals and crossing the finish line. We’ve compiled 10 easy New Year’s resolutions that are attainable and designed to help you improve your health, save money, or a combination of the two.
Setting Attainable Goals
First things first—to set yourself up for success in sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, you should make sure they’re actually realistic and attainable. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your New Year’s resolutions will last the entire year:
- Clearly Define Goals – Don’t be vague when setting goals for yourself in the new year. Resolutions like, “I want to get in shape,” aren’t specific and provide little direction in terms of how you’re going to achieve your goal. Start by dictating how often you plan to exercise, how much weight you’d like to lose, or how many calories you’ll eat each day. By clearly defining your goals and giving yourself guidelines to work with, you’re more likely to achieve your goal.
- Keep Track of Progress (or Lack of Progress) – When setting a resolution, create a way to track your progress toward reaching your goal. If you want to spend less money, create a spreadsheet where you can keep track of how much money you’re spending on a weekly basis and what you’re spending your money on. By creating a visual way to see your progress, you’re more likely to stick to your resolution than you would be if you didn’t hold yourself accountable.
- Start Small and Work Your Way Up – Don’t set lofty goals for yourself in the beginning. If your goal is to run a marathon, start by setting a goal to run one mile the first week and increase your mileage from there. If your end goal is to lose 20 pounds, set a goal to lose a pound per week, or whatever is realistic for your body type. The key to reaching larger goals in the long term is setting smaller, attainable goals in the short term that you can slowly build upon to reach the final result you desire.
- Share Your Resolutions – Share your resolutions for the new year with a loved one or close friend. By letting someone else know what you’re hoping to achieve, they can help hold you accountable and offer support and encouragement along the way.
Here are 10 attainable resolutions for better health and saving money that you can easily achieve in the new year.
1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Rather than stating that you’re going to “eat better” in 2018, set a goal to eat a certain amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories, contain vitamins and minerals, and can even help lower your risk for many diseases. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet can make it seem like you’re taking a positive action, rather than restricting yourself from eating other foods you enjoy—a negative action. In fact, studies show that if an action is seen as an “addition” (adding fruits and veggies) rather than a “subtraction” (taking away carbs), you’re more likely to repeat that action until it becomes a habit.
Example Resolution: An attainable resolution that’s good for your health would be to eat the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day for your age, gender, and physical activity level—for adults, this can range anywhere from five to 13 servings.
2. Surround Yourself with Healthier Snacks
If your goal is to eat less fatty, sugary, or salty foods, set a resolution to limit the amount of junk food in your home. Do a thorough inventory of your food pantry and get rid of unhealthy temptations like chips, cookies, and soda. Then replace them with healthier snacks like almonds, carrot sticks, or hummus and pita chips. If unhealthy snacks are out of reach, you’re more likely to opt for healthier options that are easily accessible.
Example Resolution: Set a resolution to only let yourself indulge in junk foods once a week and stock your pantry with healthier options to snack on throughout the rest of the week. It’s hard to give up foods we love abruptly, so by allowing yourself a small indulgence, you’re helping to ensure that you won’t digress from your goal in the long run.
3. Exercise More, But Start Slow
Telling yourself that you’re going to exercise three times a week come January is probably unrealistic if you haven’t already been committed to exercising in some compacity beforehand. Rather than jumping in head first, start by making a resolution to exercise for an hour a week. Once you feel comfortable with your weekly workout, slowly increase the number of days you work out each week, as well as the length of time. By slowly increasing your amount of exercise, you’ll ensure that you don’t burn yourself out at the beginning and abandon your goal before you begin to see results.
Example Resolution: Set a goal to start exercising for one hour each week. This can be broken up into six 10-minute or four 15-minute workouts throughout the week to help you ease into it. Each week (or month, if you want to take it even slower), add on an additional day of exercise and lengthen the amount of time you spend working out until you reach an end goal of at least 30 minutes each day—the recommended amount of physical activity for adults according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Incorporate “Me Time” Into Your Daily Routine
It’s no secret that stress can have a negative impact on your health, both mentally and physically. One easy way to help reduce the effects of stress is setting aside time each day to reflect, take a break, and relax. This “me time” can help you feel refreshed and happier when you return to your daily tasks and in return reduce stress. Spend your “me time” doing whatever it is that helps you relax. It can be closing your eyes and meditating, listening to relaxing music, browsing social media, or reading a good book.
Example Resolution: Devote 10 minutes of each day to taking a break and doing something for yourself. If 10 minutes doesn’t seem like enough, set aside 30 or an hour—whatever makes sense for you and helps you to relax.
5. Get More Sleep
If you’re constantly tired during the day, you probably need more sleep. Sufficient sleep helps your brain to function properly and contributes to your mental and physical health, quality of life, and even safety. If your goal is to get more sleep, it can be hard to break your current habits and force yourself to go to bed. Start by setting a reasonable goal for yourself based on your current sleep schedule. Maybe that’s getting in bed 30 minutes earlier than before and seeing how that extra time makes you feel in the morning. Or maybe it’s setting a bedtime for yourself that would allow you to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. You can also try these sleep tips that can make falling asleep and staying asleep easier.
Example Resolution: Start by setting a resolution to go to sleep 15 minutes earlier than normal. Start going to bed earlier and earlier (in 25-minute increments) as your body adapts to the earlier bedtime. When you can wake up refreshed and stay alert throughout the day, you’ll know you’ve hit the sweet spot.
6. Make a Budget
Want to spend less in 2018? Sit down after the new year and create a budget for yourself or your family. Start by cataloging all your monthly expenses. This can include bills, groceries, utilities, gas for your car, paying off debts, child care, insurance, entertainment, and so on. Then write down how much money you expect to make each month and compare. If your expenses are more than your income, figure out where you could cut back on your spending. Set spending limits for certain expenses and don’t let yourself go over that threshold. This can help you to save money and really understand where all your money is going.
If you need a little help creating a budget, there are some great mobile apps out there that will do the heavy lifting for you.
Example Resolution: Make it a goal to budget out your expenses for January. Limit yourself to spending a certain dollar amount on food, entertainment, and other common expenses for you and your family. Evaluate how well you stuck to your budget at the end of the month, re-work your budget if necessary, and set spending goals for February. Managing your budget one month at a time can help make it a habit and not something you dread doing.
7. Bring Your Lunch from Home
According to a survey conducted by Visa, Americans spent an average of $53 per week, or $2,746 per year on lunch alone! An easy way to cut back on spending in 2018 is by making a commitment to bring your lunch from home. While eating out for your lunchtime meal costs $11 on average, it only costs $6.30 on average if you opt to bring something from home. Whether it’s leftovers, prepared meals, a frozen meal, or a good ole’ PB&J, bringing food from home is often times much healthier than food purchased from a restaurant or to-go eatery. Try to start bringing something from home with you to the office, rather than running to grab takeout from your favorite local spot.
Example Resolution: Make a resolution to bring your lunch four days a week and allow yourself to eat out for lunch on one day of your choosing. If you want to go all in, make a commitment to bring your lunch from home every day and enjoy the extra cash you’ll save.
8. Cut Back on Alcohol
Not only is alcohol bad for you in large quantities, it’s also pretty pricey. Drinking alcohol in excess increases your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, depression, certain cancers, memory loss, and the list goes on and on. Alcohol is also high in calories and can easily contribute to weight gain without you even realizing it. The health effects of cutting back on alcohol are pretty obvious, but so is the effect on your wallet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans on average spend one percent of all of their spending on alcohol. By limiting the amount of alcohol you consume per week or per month, you can make a noticeable impact on your health and your finances.
Example Resolution: Limit yourself to two alcoholic drinks per week. Opt for water or club soda in place of your normal alcoholic beverages. Not only will this reduce your risk of developing health problems, it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run.
9. Set a Plan to Quit Smoking
Giving up smoking isn’t easy, but making a plan to quit can be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most smokers try to quit several times before they actually succeed. Planning ahead and setting steps for yourself are key to successfully quit smoking. Not only can a commitment to quit smoking be good for your health in 2018, it can also be a great way to save money. When you consider that a lifetime of smoking can cost one individual anywhere from $1,100,000 to $2,000,000, it’s easy to see why making a resolution to quit smoking can have an immense impact on your life.
Example Resolution: Sit down in January and make a plan to quit smoking by the end of the year. SmokeFree.gov provides great resources for those looking to quit and even have “quit plan” builder that can help walk you through the steps toward becoming smoke-free.
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