New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep

A lot of people start the new year with a list of goals they resolve to accomplish in the year to come. But it’s not always easy to do everything you intend to do. Did you become healthier, happier, smarter, or more relaxed this past year, as you might have resolved? If yes, great! If no, believe me you’re not alone.

This year why not pick important things that are nonetheless easy to fulfill?

Keep reading to find resolutions that you can actually keep, with helpful tips to make them happen! Our resolution ideas include: Healthy Body, Healthy Eating, Learning, Personal Finance, and Employment.

Be realistic when choosing the ones you’ll focus on in 2012, and don’t feel like you have to do everything!

A lot of people resolve to lose weight or exercise more, but your health has to do with a lot more than just your weight. For a healthier you, try to:

1. Sleep better. The truth of the matter is that a lack of sleep causes a lot of problems – lowering the immune system’s functioning, causing a hazy brain that can make stress unmanageable and even contributing to weight gain. The CDC recommends that you follow these steps towards better sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up the same time each morning.
  • Make sure your room is quiet, dark, and relaxing, not too hot or too cold.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable bed. It’s not a good idea to do other activities (reading, watching TV, or listening to music) in bed. Get the “gadgets” out of your bedroom.
  • Exercise may help you sleep, but don’t do it within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Try not to eat big meals right before you go to bed.

2. Drink more water. Water is magic. Kind of like sleep, staying hydrated with water helps your body and mind function. You should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Buy a cheap, reusable water bottle and keep it full and close at hand all day. It’s also a good idea to cut out alcohol and soda as much as you can.

3. Wash your hands right! You know how to wash your hands of course! But maybe, if you washed them a little better, you could avoid virusesand get sick less. The CDC has tips to better hand washing:

  • Wet your hands with clean water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub well. Wash the back of your hand, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Rub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse and dry.

4. Floss! There’s nothing better for your teeth and your overall health.

5. Think about your bonesTo take care of your bones, you should take a Calcium supplement or consume 3 servings of dairy a day, be mindful when doing weight-baring exercises that put pressure on your bones, and get lots of Vitamin D. Smoking and soda are also bad for your bones. Another reason to quit!

6. Quit Smoking. It’s time. It’s not even cool to smoke anymore, and you are stronger than your nicotine addiction. To stop, try:

  • Putting all your reasons on a note card. When you feel like smoking, pull out the card instead.
  • Keeping a journal and exploring your reasons for smoking.
  • Writing down your “triggers”, and brainstorms ways to avoid them.
  • Getting rid of all of your ashtrays, matches, and lighters.
  • Giving yourself rewards for doing well!
  • Joining a support group. You don’t have to do this alone.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you start smoking again.

For more helpful tips on quitting smoking, check out the University of Maryland Medical Center site.

Last but certainly not least, make taking care of yourself a priority. It’s good to be selfish and self-absorbed when it comes to your health.

“I want to lose 10 pounds this year!”

This is probably the most common New Year’s Resolution that people make. But it’s not good to be too obsessed with how much you weigh – weight ain’t nothin’ but a number! What’s more important than being a skinny Minnie is exercising and eating in a way that allows your body to feel strong, flexible, and alert whether you’re 100 lbs or 200 lbs. Every body is different and beautiful, and it’s all about making sure you feel good!

In 2012, try to:

1. Eat right… for you. So, look: I like cake. A cake-less life is not one worth living in my opinion (and I am eating a piece with chocolate frosting as I write this). But if I’m honest with myself, my body tells me when I’ve over-indulged. Experiment with listening to your body in 2012. Maybe even start a journal to track what you eat and how it makes you feel. Does cheese make you phlegm-y? Does too much meat weigh you down? Does your sugar binge make you feel sleepy a half hour later? Modify your diet based on what you learn. It’s about getting to know your body better and what you need to be a healthier you.

2. Eat five new foods this year. In 2011 I discovered that I love quinoa, kale, and brussel sprouts – three things I never really ate before. Be adventurous in trying new foods, and you just might find some new healthy favorites.

3. Set realistic goals. A lot of the reasons many people have trouble keeping their resolutions is that they set the bar too high. Try little changes, like not eating seconds at dinnertime or resolving to exercise 3 or 4 times a week rather than every day. This means DON’T DIET. It’s all about making changes that you can easily fit into your life and keep up.

4. Cutting down. Can you try going without meat one or two days a week? Can you cut down on your alcohol and soda intake? It’s not about totally cutting these pleasures from your life, but about slowly scaling back.

And how about you try something truly revolutionary this year: love yourself, don’t shame yourself!

Learning is one of those things that you can easily do every day, and small actions bring great returns. Take control of your own education and make it fun by:

1. Choosing one new thing to learn in 2012. Do you want to learn to play an instrument, a language, Geometry? Do it! Pick one really cool thing and then devote the entire year to that one learning goal. Think about what an expert you’ll be by 2013!

2. Playing games. Whether it’s Scrabble, Words With Friends, Sudoku, or crossword puzzles, games can open up your mind. And they’re a lot of fun too, so resolve to play more games by yourself, with family, or friends in 2012.

3. Finding a study buddy. It’s easier to take time to learning or studying when you’re not doing it alone. Find a friend who also wants to learn something new and then explore your new interests together.

4. Reading books. I’ve heard many people say, “I’m just not a reader.” I don’t believe it! Resolve to read a certain number of books in 2012 from cover to cover. You can be realistic and gentle with yourself. Even if you resolve to read 2 or 3 books this year, that’s a lot better than reading none. Listening to an audio book might be a good way to ease back into the book groove. Visit your local library and get started.

5. Using your Internet time wisely. Yeah, cat videos are awesome. I can’t deny it. But there are a lot of great learning resources online too. Is there a balance you can strike with your Internet time? Try TED TalksKhan Academy, or to begin your own self-education.

Yes, money is tight for most of us, and the last few years have been hard. But there are actions you can take that will make life a little easier in 2012. Resolve to:

1. Write it down. Do you know exactly how much you spend and exactly what you’re buying? If you write down all of your purchases in a notebook, you can start to recognize your patterns a little better and make changes. How much would you really save if you cut out the Starbucks and made your own coffee instead? What if you got a Wii Fit rather than a gym membership? Use The Beehive Budget Builder to start.

2. Save $5 a month. The act of saving is important even if you’re only saving a small amount of money. Pick an amount you can easily commit to save each week – $5, $10 – and see how your savings grows in a year. Get your kids and the entire family involved in meeting your savings goal.

3. Collect change. No coin is too small, so don’t walk by that lucky penny on the sidewalk. Get a piggy bank or a jar, and see how far you get in a year!

4. File your taxes early. Don’t wait until April! As soon as you get your tax forms from your employers, you can start filing your taxes for free. And then think carefully about that to do with your tax refund.

5. Start to save for a vacation. 2011 was all about the “staycation”, but perhaps if you save wisely, your vacation can be a reality this year. I’m personally learning that experiences are more important to me than material things. Why not go without that object you really don’t need now in order to save for that experience you’ll never forget later?

For the large number of Americans who are unemployed, finding a new job is a likely resolution. There are many relatively easy actions you can resolve to do in order to get closer to your employment goals. You can:

1. Update your resume and cover letter. Always keep your resume and cover letter up-to-date. Working on them is kind of fun too, because it can remind you of skills you have that you take for granted. It’s also a good idea to keep many different versions of each document handy if you start hearing about a lot of great job openings.

2. Build your online presence. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? There really is no better way to begin online networking than to create a profile on LinkedIn. It’s a widely used and respected professional networking site. Also, you can build your web presence by starting a blog about a subject related to the career you’d like to have. It looks really good to a future employer when you’re proactively learning, sharing, and communicating on a subject through your blog.

3. Stop thinking of “networking” as a four-letter world. Networking can be uncomfortable because it sometimes feels fake. But it’s really important to get over your networking squeamishness, because the fact of the matter is that “only a small percentage of jobs are advertised and filled through job boards; most are filled through personal connections.” Get out there and meet people while working on building meaningful, genuine connections.

4. Volunteer. Just like blogging and networking can show your future employer that you’re proactive, volunteering can do a similar thing. While you look for a new job, get out into the community as much as you can. Not only does it look good, but getting out, working, and being around other people can do you wonders when you’re down.

5. Be persistent. When looking for a job, you don’t have to play it cool. Let your future employer know how much you want the job. Don’t be afraid to follow-up or to set up informational interviews with companies you could see yourself working for.

6. Stay fit. It might seem like this resolution belongs on a different list. But keeping yourself physically in shape can help you in your job search. Staying fit gives you stamina and energy, and if you’re like me, exercise clears my head and improves my mood like nothing else.

7. Dream. Ask yourself, if I could do anything in the world, what would I do? It’s amazing that when you focus on doing what you really love, things have a tendency to come together. Take some time this year to ask yourself about what you really want in your career, and then come up with the concrete ways you can make your dream a reality.

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