How to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Actually Benefit You

It’s That Time of Year.

Look at some of her resolutions - they're very funny.

This time of year, our thoughts turn to new beginnings in the New Year. If you are one of the about 50 percent of Americans who commit to a New Year’s resolution, you might be currently brainstorming for your very own self-improvement project.

However, if we successfully achieved every single New Year’s resolution, we wouldn’t need to make them every year, would we? We’d have the perfect outlook on life, maintain our ideal weight and have money saved in the bank.

Alas, only 8 percent of people surveyed by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology reported success in achieving their resolution. In fact, 24 percent of respondents say they are never successful with their resolutions and fail every year. It can be demoralizing to fail and those setbacks could persuade us to stop setting goals altogether.

Instead of abandoning self-reflection and self-improvement, why not evaluate the types of goals we set? Are they unattainable from the start? Are we unrealistic? Here are some tips to help make New Year’s resolutions that are beneficial and attainable. [Read more…]

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Time Traveling to Your Future You

One characteristic I appreciate about Christopher Nolan’s directorial style is that he respects the audience’s intelligence.

While so many movies are recycled sequels or targeted to drunken partiers, it’s refreshing to find a filmmaker who thinks more of his viewers, rather than less. So I recently ponied up a wad of cash to go to the cinema (I even paid nighttime rates!) and watched a heady sci-fi flick called “Interstellar.”

No spoiler alerts, but the butler did it. (Just joking.) Anyway, to sum up the film in the space I’m allotted in this column would be nearly as improbable as some of the concepts outlined in the story. Yet the main gist involves Matthew McConaughey and crew seeking out a new planet for humanity to call home via multi-dimensional, time-shifting space travel. I warned you: heady.

If you’re into sci-fi, it’s a great use of three-hours and, with the exception of some doubts I share with astrophysicist/celeb Neil deGrasse Tyson about traveling through black holes, the story is tight. (Of course, I’m pretty sure Mr. Tyson is not even aware that we share said concerns, but I’m certain he’d be delighted by my support.)

Anyhoo, I bring this to the conversation because the story reminded me that — although not as extremely as are the characters in the film —we’re all moving through time.

For us however, it’s limited to one direction and we are not given the ability to jump dimensions and re-chart former decisions we now regret.

Moreover, since the new year is rapidly approaching and January is ground zero for us to be inundated with reminders to make resolutions, I am jumping the gun to share a unique take on how to create that new you. Every year well-intended folks who espouse resolutions tell us to focus on positive actions, such as “I will go to bed at 10:00” or “I will use less salt.” Equally true, every year, somewhere north of 80 per-cent of people give up on their goals within their first three weeks. Something is obviously off-kilter.

That system is flawed because, firstly, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve arrived?”

[Read more…]

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Is Your 2014 Financial Resolution Already Off-Track? Refocus on Your Financial Goals

So you made a New Year’s resolution involving finances, and it’s already fallen to the wayside.

expired-resolutionsWe get it. Maybe you resolved to reduce your credit card debt, save for a home or build an emergency fund, or even something as simple as create and stick to a budget. You must live and breathe that commitment each and every day if you are to achieve it, but relax—it’s not that hard. Below are some helpful hints to help you keep your 2014 financial resolution:

Take Pen to Paper

Write down your goal. Insure that it meets the following criteria:

  • The goal must be specific. What action will you take? “I will deposit $200 from each paycheck into my retirement account” as opposed to “I will save more this year.”
  • Make sure it’s measurable. You must be able to measure whether or not you are on track.
  • The goal must be achievable. Do your homework and ascertain if your goal is financially achievable.
  • Make it realistic. If your job requires you to drive all over town to meet with clients, you don’t have any control over whether you can spend less on gas, so don’t make that your goal.
  • It should be timely. Your goal must be stated in a way that holds you accountable to a time table. For example, “I will deposit $50 a month” as opposed to “I will save more.”

Now that you’ve set your goal, stay on track.

[Read more…]

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Achieving Any Resolution or Goal

Alien monster making resolutionsEach December, as the year comes to a close, most of us start to evaluate where we are in life. We think about how we live and what we would like to change in the upcoming year. Then, we make New Year’s resolutions, resolving to deliberately implement the changes we want to see. Unfortunately, that’s as close as most of us get to achieving these goals. After the champagne toasts and the midnight kisses, we go back to business as usual, and don’t even remember our resolutions until February or later, which is obviously the wrong time of year to start implementing change by society’s standards.

But there are ways to take initiative and achieve some of the goals you set for yourself any time of the year, not just the end or beginning. After all, you don’t need a new year to make a new you. 

Set Long Term Goals

The biggest reason that people don’t act on their New Year’s resolutions or any resolutions for change is that they forget about them until they feel it is too late to start them, but it is never too late. One way around this is to set long-term goals, rather than daily habit changes. So instead of saying, “I’m going to run every morning” and then using the fact that you didn’t start January 1st as an excuse to not start January 23rd, set the goal of “becoming more fit”.

Of course, goals need parameters, and the more specific you are, the more likely you are to achieve them. But your real goal isn’t to run every day, it is to get in shape, or start living healthier. So when you wake up on January 23rd and remember “Oh, I’m supposed to be getting in shape” you can assess how to get there from where you are. Now morning runs are an option, because it doesn’t come with the caveat “I ran every day… well, I started late, and missed some weekends, but I ran a couple times!”

So if you have the overall goal of “Getting in Shape” you can then write out how you plan on getting there. Sub-goals might be “Exercise” and “Eat Better” Then you can list action items that will get you there. But if you slip a little you can always add new action items, or change your plan to be more realistic or effective. This way you can still achieve your overall goal, because you have the ability to adapt without feeling like a failure.

forgetful-womanDon’t Let Yourself Forget

Another way to make sure you reach your resolutions is to make sure you remember them. This can be done in many ways. Post your goals on your mirror, your fridge, your tv- any surface you look at regularly. Tell your friends and family your resolutions and ask that they keep you accountable and check in about how you are doing. Put goal deadlines in your phone calendar, send yourself email reminders, or include it in an online invitation to yourself with the New Year’s party you went to (or any party for that matter). Do whatever it takes to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.

Use multiple strategies. After a week or so, that paper on your fridge will become commonplace, and just blend in with everything else. We don’t always see the things that are part of our everyday lives. So challenge yourself to change things up, and keep your focus on the end goal.

Make Little Changes

Big changes only come about when little changes are made. Think about how we grow. Day-to-day is pretty much the same. But a year goes by, and we might notice some changes. 10 years go by and we could be a completely different person. Those years are made up of individual days, and though the days themselves don’t seem to bear any significant changes, they add up. Here are some little things you can do to get on the way to big changes.

If your goals involve becoming more social or healing/developing relationships, set aside a day each week to go to coffee or lunch with a friend. This little break will be great for both of you, and will get you in the habit of spending more time with people.

Keep in touch with faraway friends and family by making regular phone calls. Even if it’s once a month, they will love hearing from you. Set aside a little time to write letters or send emails. For a personal touch, send invitations or cards to let people know you’re thinking about them. It will bring a smile to their face and a touch of fun to correspondence.

Most New Year’s Goals involve physical appearance in some way. If you’re not someone who exercises regularly, it can be hard to start, but quickly becomes addicting. Even taking a walk a couple times a week can get your energy going, and soon you’ll be jogging, doing stretches and sit-ups, and maybe even going to the gym.

Nancy ArnoldAbout the author:

Nancy Arnold is a graphic artist and writer, with a particular focus on producing fun and interactive designs for kids birthday invitations. She loves parties of all kinds, and when she happens to not be at a party she can probably be found shooting paintballs at her friends.

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Getting Started (Again)

There is no limit to how many times you can “begin” again.

There’s no denying that it’s frustrating to “start over” again and again and again.

We feel embarrassed and sometimes even ashamed. Because of those feelings, we keep our plans to ourselves, telling fewer and fewer people. Although it’s not required that we tell people, but the down side of not discussing what we want with those supportive to us is if no one knows what we’re doing, it makes it easier for us to back out and “save face.”

The reality is the one person who really matters does know; that’s us. WE know we’ve let ourselves down. WE know that we’re not doing what we want to do. And there’s no one else more important than US when it comes to changing.

It’s inevitable; you’re going to slip up. You’re going to fall down. But the key to success is getting up more times than you fall.<

Get up. Keep going. Start again.

No one is keeping count.

[Read more…]

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