If you made it until about 30 seconds after midnight on January 1 before breaking the resolution you proudly shouted out just a few hours earlier, you are not alone. Somewhat unsurprisingly, about 80% of people have already fallen short of their lofty goals by the second week of February. That new gym membership goes stale and the bundles of kale that are supposed to go into the glistening new juicer all rot in the corner of the fridge as you once again become BFFs with the pizza delivery dude. It happens.
The problem with most resolutions is that they’re the product of starry-eyed dreamers who want to take a giant leap for mankind when they should really be baby-stepping their way to self-improvement. Ambitious goals like going from couch potato to Iron Man in 60 days or never eating a french fry ever again are admirable, but they’re also almost always doomed before they even start. This December, line up some realistic New Year’s resolutions and see if you can’t buck the trend.
Make Friends with Your Hamper
If you’re the kind of person who hasn’t seen their bedroom floor in more than month, you’re not likely to Marie Kondo that nonsense overnight. Cleaning up your act is always a good idea, but maybe start with something simple like putting your dirty clothes into a basket rather using them as a new-fangled form of shag carpet.
Learn to Cook Three Solid Recipes
Food delivery is one of the most amazing inventions of the last century and we’d never suggest giving it up, but it’s also expensive. Twice weekly orders of about $30 each add up quickly, totaling a wallet-crunching $3,120 a year. That’s more than three grand that’s not in your savings account or paying off your student debt. Instead, find three dishes you really like and learn how to make them. Aim for one you can batch cook and treat as meal prep, once that works for a fancier occasion (hellloooo date night), and one that’s delicious but so stupid easy you can whip it up with minimal ingredients mid-week (this rigatoni with sausage, beans, and greens for instance).
Schedule “Me Time”
You wouldn’t break a date with someone you were really excited about, so why do you keep standing yourself up? When we’re busy, our “me time” is the first thing to go. If you’re thinking about resolving to take care of yourself better, start by putting weekly bubble baths, professional shaves, meditation classes, or massages on the calendar — in pen.
Stop Saying Yes to Everything
Whether your resolution is to stop being a doormat, to find more time in your day, or to never again find yourself cleaning up a coworker’s big fat mess, learning to say ‘no’ is like getting your life back. It’s hard to flip that switch overnight, so start by telling everyone who asks for a favor that you have to think about it. That’s it. You can say:
- I have to check my calendar
- Let me see what that week looks like
- I need to make sure I have the resources to do that project justice
The key is to take the time you need to seriously consider how saying yes could impact your life — and to work up the courage to say no and mean it.
Before you get locked into a 12-month gym membership you’ll never use or buy some trendy weight-loss DVDs from a sketchy infomercial, put on the shoes you already have and hit the pavement. Walking is free, and trying for 30 minutes three times a week will let you know real quick whether you’re truly for the next step or not.
Counting steps works too, but instead of immediately shooting for the recommended 10,000 steps a day, wear a pedometer, see where you’re at now, and increase your steps by 200-300 steps daily until you get where you’re going (literally and figuratively).
More often than not, falling short of your goals has less to do with ability and far more to do with fear of failure. Procrastination linked to anxiety is real and not to be underestimated. One therapist-recommended trick is to pick a task, set a timer for 15 minutes, and tackle the project until the buzzer goes off. That way you can reassure your brain that you’re not biting off more than you can chew but you’re also making progress. Win-win.
Shut Off Your Phone an Hour Before You Sleep
Experts say electronic devices suppress melatonin, a hormone tied to sleep cycles, but your smartphone and tablet may also influence your decision to stay up late. The result is crappy sleep in terms of both quality and quantity. Put away your electronics early and spend that last hour reading, ironing your shirts for tomorrow, or whatever else helps you wind down. You’ll get more rest and your social media feeds will still be there in the morning.
Give One Unsolicited Compliment Every Day
Positivity is a gift. Every time you pay someone a genuine compliment, you’re making them feel good and that reflects well on you too. Being a source of happiness pays enormous dividends; your own self-esteem will rise, people will want to get to know you better (meaning you can tick that “meet more people” resolution off your list), and they may even help improve performance. Resolve to make other people smile and you may be surprised how easy a resolution that is to keep