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Top Ten New Years Resolutions People Make

Updated on February 23, 2020

New Years Resolutions for Self-Improvement

While the New Year is the traditional time to make resolutions, people resolve to "live better" on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. In fact, some of those resolutions may have greater staying power when they are made on your own schedule - when the time is right and you are ready to change - rather than just because the calendar is turning to January once again.

Among the various New Years resolutions that are made, many do not have any method to measure success. That's why experts suggest a more specific self-improvement goal to encourage you along the way. Compare: "I resolve to lose weight," with "I resolve to lose 1 pound per month."

If you are ready to make your own resolutions, consider this list of the top ten resolutions people make. Then, write down how you can tailor the goal to your lifestyle, including time constraints, raising children, work obligations, or caring for pets, or other family members. The list below is broadly stated; it is up to you to specify what you want to achieve by making the resolution. I've included suggestions to help narrow them down, and how to achieve resolutions, too!

For those with stories of success or other suggestions, please share in the comment section at the end.

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Keep a food diary of everything you eat and drink - you may be surprised you are ingesting more than you realize
  • Stock the refrigerator/pantry with healthier food, including lots of fruits and vegetables and high fiber, whole grain bread or pasta, and remove tempting, high calorie foods
  • Prepare meals at home
  • Drink lots of water!
  • Reserve eating out for special occasions; consider a reasonable treat at the end of a week, where warranted!
  • Weigh yourself 2-3 times per week, but not every day. Do so at the same time each day
  • Consider joining a weight loss program, or online support group
  • Carry a healthy snack with you to avoid heading to the vending machine mid-afternoon
  • Consider consulting with a nutritionist to build a meal plan that will keep you satisfied throughout the day

1. Lose Weight

Just about everyone I know would like to lose a bit of weight. Sometimes its for vanity, but usually they are looking for weight loss to promote better overall health.

This is the first question you should be asking yourself - why do I want to lose weight? Your answer will help you break down the resolution into more manageable goals.

If your resolution is to lose weight and you are significantly overweight, you should consult your doctor before embarking on a weight loss program. He or she can determine which foods are best for you and will let you know whether any medications you are on could interfere with your efforts. They can also help you prepare a realistic goal for specific weight loss achievements (for example, 4 pounds per week for the first 2 months).

Those people who have 20-40 pounds or less to lose, should specifically define their goals, as well. If it is a certain number on the scale you are trying to achieve, you may find that it could be a more elusive goal as weight fluctuates from day to day. If, however, you are looking to be able to play outside with your children without getting winded, or to drop two clothing sizes by summer, life-based goals may help you stay motivated longer without getting discouraged.

Another List of Ten Resolutions - Funny!

How to Achieve This Resolution?

  • Find time to exercise by getting up 1/2 hour earlier each day, walking during lunch, or bicycling to work
  • Find a fun exercise class that offers activities you enjoy. These days, you can do ballet classes, power yoga, dance classes, ski/snowboard conditioning, or weight classes, among other things
  • Enlist the help of friends or family members. It is a lot harder to blow off exercise when others are counting on you to join them.
  • Sign up for a race or event at least 4-6 months in the future. This may give you the incentive to keep working hard.
  • Do it for the dog! Does your pooch get enough exercise? If not, why not use your exercise resolution to benefit both of you? Get out for a daily walk!

2. Exercise More Often

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand toward improving overall health. You get physical as well as mental benefits from working out - even as little as 20 minutes per day.

Again, if you are not already active, you should consult your doctor to ensure that you are physically capable of adding exercise to your routine. He or she may suggest that you limit time, at first, or avoid certain activities. This is true whether or not your are overweight or have a specific medical condition.

Now, we come to the sub-goals again. Why do you want to exercise more often? To lose weight (if so, refer to resolution #1 above)? to feel more alert? to sleep better at night? Or maybe to work up to a goal like running a marathon?

Consider your current lifestyle and demands on your time, then write down what "exercise more often" means to you: 20 minutes per day, or perhaps 4 hours total per week. If your goal turns out to be too ambitious, scale it back by 10-20% and keep working at it!

Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables to eat a healthier diet
Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables to eat a healthier diet | Source

How to Achieve This Resolution?

  • Shop the outside perimeter of grocery stores where the fresh produce and minimally (if at all) processed foods are located
  • Visit farmer's markets to find the best-tasting, often organic, fruits and vegetables
  • Learn how to read and interpret food labels so you can find foods that meet your "healthy" requirements: high in protein, low in fat, organic, hormone-free, etc.
  • Consider growing your own crops and/or raising your own animals if permitted in your city or town. A vegetable garden can provide a bounty of "free" food. Chickens often lay fresh, hormone-free eggs daily.

3. Eat a Healthier Diet

If you are resolving to eat a healthier diet, there are probably a number of changes you can make right away. But, let's get more specific once again. Do you want to eat less junk food? Eat fewer processed foods? Switch to organic foods? Eliminate soda? Become vegetarian? Eat more fruits and vegetables? Perhaps you want to reduce fat in your diet?

Any one of these changes can result in a healthier diet. Choose one or two on which to focus, and you'll likely stick to your resolution more easily than if you simply challenge yourself to "eat healthy."

Before you start making changes in your shopping basket, you probably know what I am going to say: Talk to your doctor, especially if you are on certain medications or suffer from chronic illness. Certain foods, such as grapefruit, may interfere with the effectiveness of prescriptions. If you are diabetic, making a drastic change in the number or types of carbohydrates you are eating could cause significant blood sugar swings.

Time to get organized!
Time to get organized! | Source

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Adhere to the one-in, one-out rule. For every new purchase you make, donate a similar item you already own to charity. This is very easy to do with shoes and coats
  • Invest in tools for organizing such as additional hangers, shoe racks, paper stacker for a desk
  • Post a large, centrally-located calendar so that everyone can see the items on the agenda for the day, and looking ahead
  • Clean out junk drawers and toss items that are broken, unnecessary, or which belong to other things you no longer own (buttons, chess pieces, beads, etc.)
  • Donate, donate, donate!

4. Get Organized

Who hasn't at least once in their life wished they could get organized? From clutter in the closet, to the garage, and even the computer in-box, too much "stuff" is distracting and takes our attention away from more important things.

Perhaps you want to tackle one area of your home or work life each month. For example, in January, find a new way to organize clipped coupons and mail. In February, organize your hall or bedroom closet. March means its time to clean out the refrigerator. Trying to organize your entire life overnight will be frustrating and may lead to failure.

You might have to face the fact that your pantry will never look like Martha Stewart's. But if you vacuum out crumbs and wipe down shelves once a year, the feeling from getting organized may lead to other success in your life - or at least peace of mind. Personally, after re-organizing a closet or room, I love standing back and just basking in the glow of a neat arrangement. Then, I sit back and wait for the kids to come home from school so they can un-do most of my hard work.... *sigh*

One Doctor Shares Her Top Ten Resolutions for Older Adults

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • If possible, set aside a certain sum into a savings account, whether a traditional account, retirement account or college savings plan (or all three!) right after you get paid.
  • Pay your bills as they come in so you don't forget and suffer late fees, penalties and increased interest rates. If you write checks, stuff the envelope and put a reminder to mail the bill 5 days before it is due. Online bill pay is convenient, and you can often set up recurring payments of the same amount on the same date each month
  • If you can't pay cash, don't purchase it. This is a tough rule to follow, but it can force you to live within your means
  • Resist the temptation to engage in impulse shopping. Ask yourself if you really need it and consider coming back 48 hours later if you still can't live without it.

5. Become More Financially Responsible

Save more and spend less. When it comes right down to it, we all want to do this (perhaps with exceptions in the top 1%). It is a common resolution to become more financially responsible.

Making a more specific goal is the key to your success. Have a lot of credit card debt? Perhaps you want to avoid late fees, or make payments at least $5 over the required minimum payment? Another resolution may be to see a financial planner or consumer debt specialist to help you examiner your finances to determine what can be done within your means. If you could resolve to pay off one credit card this year, how would that make you feel?

Want to save for something in the future? If you have kids, you may be thinking about 529 college savings plans, or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Those that have full time employment may wish to maximize their contributions to a 401k plan. Maybe you want to buy a car, or even a house in the future. Work out a monthly budget and "pay yourself first," setting aside the savings before paying any other bills or otherwise spending your paycheck. Then watch as your goal becomes closer and closer to reality with each passing month.

Help to Stop Drinking on

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Seek professional help
  • Join a support group
  • Remove all tempting items from the home/workplace/computer
  • Avoid situations that may result in a "trigger"
  • Surround yourself with supportive friends and family

6. Quit Smoking/Drinking/Gambling

Quitting an addiction may be one of the most common resolutions, yet with the lowest success rate. There is really no way to make a sub-goal, here. The bottom line is that a substance or behavior has progressed to a point that it is unhealthy and may be threatening your life, your relationships, and/or your financial livelihood.

Many addicts cannot recover on their own. Therefore, it is highly suggested that you find a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous to help. Keep in mind that a slip is not a personal failure or shortcoming. That is why it is called an addiction. If a person could quit by sheer willpower (I know there are a few individuals who can, but it is quite rare) then it would be more fair to judge them for failing to continue "white-knuckling" it to a full recovery.

Please consult your doctor or other professional who specializes in addiction.

Work on relationships in the New Year
Work on relationships in the New Year | Source

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Practice active listening - instead of interrupting or trying to be "right," work on hearing the situation from the other's perspective
  • Reduce stressful situations by preparing (as much as possible) in advance, for example, making lunches the night before
  • Call a family meeting, or organize a quiet sit down with your partner to discuss goals and find solutions in the family's best interests, rather than trying to hash it out in the heat of a conflict
  • Remember that you are "on the same team" - most of the time what each side wants is the same thing! Consider coming alongside your partner or child to look for a way to achieve family-specific goals
  • Seek professional counseling, if necessary

7. Be a Better Spouse/Parent/Significant Other

This is another vague, catch-all resolution that people often make. The word "better" defines a judgment, so its important to determine from whose perspective you are not "good enough." Is it a parent's standard? A friend's apparently idyllic marriage? Perhaps a friend who appears to have a wonderful relationship with her kids?

Now, put all that aside and ask yourself, what do YOU want in the relationship? Less tension? More bonding? Better communication? More time together?

Once you pinpoint an area to improve, you can make goals specific to the resolution. For example, to spend 15 minutes each day with your child devoting your undivided attention (no cell phones, computer, phone, cooking dinner, etc.). You may also resolve to try to not "have the last word" in an argument, but instead to agree to disagree. Perhaps you wish to ask your partner each morning what one thing would make his or her day, and then try to do it.

There are many ways that we could potentially improve our relationships with loved ones. Determining what would make both sides feel best is the key to this New Year resolution.

Improving Relationship Skills for Couples

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Be prepared to sit down with your team and/or superior to listen and discuss goals for your workplace and offer input
  • Outline the skills you bring to your work environment and keep them updated so you are reminded of the strengths you possess in order to best tap into them
  • Work to improve communication within and outside of the workplace; responsiveness is usually viewed favorably
  • Ensure that you are following company guidelines - but, if you believe a standard should be changed, prepare a memorandum suggesting the changes and explaining why it would be beneficial to the organization and its customers/clients
  • Consult a professional counselor to assist you with your resume and/or to help you build on your strengths within a work environment

8. Achieve Success at Work

What are you aiming for in the New Year? A better position within the company? A raise or bonus? More challenging projects?

Maybe a new job altogether!

Within a work environment, one of the biggest keys to success is how you relate to other people. Communication - once again - is key. In fact, psychologists and other experts have determined that brain power alone usually cannot predict success. Emotional sensitivity, to a certain degree, has an impact on overall success at work, and within any social organization.

Once you pinpoint a specific goal for your resolution, you can outline steps to achieve it. For example, to improve communications with clients and other people outside of your work setting, you might want to make a goal to return emails or phone calls within 6 hours. To receive more challenging work assignments, it might help to meet with your superior to talk about what they need to see from you beforehand. Turning in reports on time and being prompt to meetings may also boost perceptions of your ability to do the job.

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Make time each day to fill your soul with something that brings you joy (taking a walk, talking on the phone, looking at photographs)
  • Transform negative thoughts into positive ones
  • Practice yoga or deep breathing
  • Don't sweat the small stuff
  • Give back to the community
  • Let past offenses go
  • Attend religious services and/or meet with a spiritual advisor
  • Seek professional counseling or medical attention if you believe your unhappiness might be something more serious

9. Be Happier

I think this resolution is one of the easiest, yet at the same time, most difficult to achieve. Any one of us can be happy -- any day, any time, any place. Some even say that we are always happy somewhere inside. Its just a matter of learning how to recognize that happiness and bring it out from behind other feelings such as grief, anger, overwhelm, etc. Unfortunately, negative thoughts and feelings tend to pervade our consciousness.

You can be happier in a number of ways: focusing on any thing positive in your life (a hot cup of coffee, an email from a friend), giving thanks for the good things in your life, forgiving yourself or others for past mistakes, and lending a helping hand.

Instead of making a resolution to be happier, a more specific goal could be to donate 5 hours each month to help in the schools, serve meals to the homeless, or walk dogs at the shelter. You could also resolve to keep a list each day of the things that made you grateful. Joining a meditation group or yoga class might be the first step to help you be happier. Again, you should decide how to create achievable goals.

Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy! (funny video)

How to Achieve this Resolution?

  • Exercise regularly (see resolutions above)
  • Follow a healthy diet (see resolutions above)
  • Get adequate rest/sleep each day
  • Engage in activities that bring you happiness
  • Cut out potentially harmful activities, such as smoking
  • Schedule regular doctor visits
  • Check blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels at least annually
  • Visit the dentist
  • Brush and floss
  • Join support groups or other organizations to help you stay on track and motivate you

10. Take Care of Personal Health

If you are resolving to take care of personal health, you may have a suspicion that your habits are not necessarily the most beneficial to your physical and mental health. Often this resolution goes hand in hand with one or more of the rest of the top ten resolutions people make, above.

First, pinpoint what aspect of your health you wish to improve. Next, see a professional to confirm whether or not you should be concerned and to recommend steps to help you take care of personal health. If you do not have insurance or access to a doctor, you can still work on improving health - whether by changing your diet, eliminating cigarettes or alcohol, walking a few days a week, or more. Start with one small change, then consider adding another each month as you feel stronger and healthier.

There may be community organizations that can help you get on the road to better health, many of which are free! Check the front of the phone book for a list of government services and other organizations that can help you achieve better personal health.

What Resolutions Have You Made?

See results

Are You Going to Keep New Year's Resolutions?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Stephanie Marshall


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