Successfully Making and Keeping New Years Resolutions
The year is drawing to an end and it’s time to start thinking about the New Year. For many of us that means New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are wonderful, but often hard to keep. The key to creating a good resolution is for it to be realistic, attainable, and measureable.
Some common new year’s resolutions are to lose weight, stop smoking, and get out of debt. Those are all very admirable resolutions. But without a clear and realistic plan on how to make them attainable you will never be successful at reaching those goals. Let’s take a look at each of these common resolutions listed above and see how we can make them realistic, measurable, and attainable.
The first and hands down the most common new year’s resolution is to lose weight. This can be a difficult goal for any of us, but with a little planning you can be successful. The first step is to set a reasonable goal. If you weigh 250 lbs. your goal can not be to weigh 130 lbs in 6 months. That’s just not realistic. So a better idea is to set a more attainable goal that will give you the results you want and will last a lot longer than crash dieting and for that matter be less painful. Make your resolution be to make lifestyle changes that will cause you to lose weight. For example you can resolve to stop drinking pop, or to stop eating fast food, or to stop eating fried foods. You could also resolve to park at the far end of the parking lot wherever you go, or to exercise (even if it’s just walking) for 30 minutes a day, or to take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Another thing is you don’t have to resolve to start doing all these things at once. You can make your goal more measurable by starting with one thing and then adding in another every week or every other week. Then you can measure your progress on how you are doing on each mini goal. The result will be two fold. You will have reached your resolution of losing weight while also making changes so you can also live a healthier life. This will result in you in keeping the weight off.
Another very popular goal is to stop smoking; this is another excellent goal for your health. However like losing weight you can’t just jump in head first without a plan or it won’t be successful. So let’s look at some strategies to make quitting smoke a realistic resolution. Rather than trying to stop cold turkey on January 1, why not start cutting back on January 1. If you smoke a pack a day right now then start cutting back. First make that one pack last for 2 days, then 3 days, then a week. Mean while finding something to do to distract you from smoking. Maybe you can chew gum, or suck on mints, or eat carrots when you get the urge to smoke. Also avoiding triggers may help. If you get the urge to smoke when you’re at bars maybe you can avoid bars for a little while, if you get the urge to smoke when you’re on break at work then maybe you can go for a walk or read on your break instead of smoking. Now that you’ve found other things to occupy your time, identified your triggers and found strategies to avoid them, and have drastically cut back your smoking you have to options at this point. You can either just give up smoking all together now or you can further cut back your smoking until you quit. You can go down to 2 cigarettes a day for a week or so and then to 1 cigarette a day and then finally to none. The most important things to remember are not to go cold turkey (it rarely works), to set mini attainable goals to get to your greater resolution, and to measure your progress along the way. It can be difficult to stop smoking so if you have to set small goals along the way don’t worry you will get there.
Getting Out of Debt
Getting out of debt is also a resolution for many and a very advisable one at that. Like everything else you have to go about it the right way to be successful. First set a realistic goal if you have $10,000 in debt you won’t get out of it immediately. A realistic approach will be to take stock of your current debts, your regularly monthly bills, and expenses. Take a month or at least 2 weeks to track your spending to see where your money is going. This will help you with creating a budget and seeing where your money is going and where you can trim the fat so to speak and use that extra money to pay off debt.
Once you have taken stock of your spending and monthly expenses it is time to look at your other debts. One strategy is to organize your debts from lowest to highest, write them down on a piece of paper. Include the name of the creditor, the total amount due, if it has a monthly payment write that down also, and the leave space so that you can write down the date and amounts of payments made to the debt.
Now that you have your fixed expenses outlined and your debts organized it is time to create a budget. Here you will want to basically take all of your income, and deduct all of your fixed expenses first, then deduct money for savings. What’s left over is what you can dedicate to debt reduction. Anything that already has a monthly payment due on it should be paid first monthly. Then with what’s left start paying on or paying off your lowest debts first. On the list you made earlier make sure to keep track of the date, amount, and check number of each payment made. As you pay off your smaller debts mark them off. You will get a sense of accomplishment in completely paying off a debt that’s one less than you had before (congratulate yourself) and two you now have more money to paying of your larger debts and applying a little more than the minimum to your monthly debt payments. You’re on the road to being out of debt.
Just remember not to let yourself get overwhelmed remember realistic, attainable, and measurable. So don’t set a budget that’s so tight you will never be able to stick to it, make each mini goal obtainable, and measure your success along the way that is the sure fire way to reach your new year’s resolution of getting out of debt. It may take time but you’ll get there.
Setting New Year’s resolutions are very important traditions for many people and a great way to get the New Year off to a good start. A great way to look at the New Year is as a new beginning. So give yourself a new beginning by setting New Year’s resolutions that will both help you improve your new year and make long lasting life changes to give you a brighter future. Remember in setting New Year’s resolutions and any other goals in your life realistic, attainable, and measurable are the keys to success.