Every year about this time, many of us take a look at everything we didn’t do this past year and vow to do things differently next year.
We start the New Year with high hopes, but by Valentine’s Day, we’ve likely given up on most of our aspirations for the next 12 months and fallen back into our old ways.
Lose weight and get into shape.
This has to be the number-one New Year’s resolution ever—and the one most likely to be broken. We all start out with the best of intentions, swearing we’ll work off that holiday weight and get back into beach-ready shape by summer, but sometime before Valentine’s Day, we fall back into those old habits.
If you’ve decided this is your year to make this resolution work, start small.Don’t set unrealistic goals, like losing 50 pounds by Memorial Day. If you’re really out of shape, start by walking around the block. Walk farther every day to build up your endurance. Then add a little weight training with light barbells. If you can stick with your walking and weights, move up to running and heavier weights. If you can stick with this regime for two months, join a gym. At the same time, clean up your diet in small ways, like cutting back on fast food and gradually adding more fruits and vegetables. Concentrate on making changes you can live with in the long run.
Pay off credit cards, save more money.
This is probably number two of the least-kept resolutions. The only way to succeed in getting your finances back on track is to have a plan. If your main priority is to whittle down your debt, look for professional help. Sign up for a debt management program that will allow you to make regular payments over a period of two or three years. Stick to it, and you should be able to be debt-free in the near future without resorting to bankruptcy.
Once you dig yourself out of debt, you can move on to another popular resolution—saving money. Start by opening a savings account at your bank, then resolve to deposit a certain amount from every paycheck. This is easier said than done, and there’s guaranteed to be a month when you have to pay for car repairs, dental bills or other emergencies. You may not be able to save the same amount every month, but you can try. And if you get an unexpected windfall, like a tax return or bonus at work, put it straight into your savings account!
Read more books.
This is a popular resolution lately, probably because most of us spend too much time online, playing games or watching TV and not enough actually reading. One way to make it easy to read more books is to get a tablet or e-reader and download a few items every week. Carry it with you all the time so that whenever you have a spare moment, you can enjoy one of your books. This is an easy way to get back into the reading habit!
Spend less time on Facebook.
Yeah, it’s addictive, especially if you use Facebook to keep up with friends or relatives living far away. While you should definitely continue to spend online time with those you love, aren’t there some so-called friends who are just wasting your time? Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your list of “friends” and do a little winnowing-out.
You’ve probably already seen some tips for following through on resolutions that appear on your list. Don’t stop reading now because there are more tips ahead to keep you on track in the new year.
This is another resolution that will be easier to keep if you start small. Do you have one room that looks dated, dowdy or just doesn’t make you feel happy to be home? If it’s the bedroom, start with new sheets and comforter, plus a few pillows. This can be just what your sleeping chamber needs to look fresh and new. Does your kitchen look like a bad ‘50s sitcom? How about getting some new towels and up-to-date small appliances in bright colors? If you bought an older house and the vintage kitchen was included, consider heading down to the home store and see how much it will cost to replace dated cabinets and appliances. If your problem is decrepit furniture that can’t be saved, start thinking about what you really want and shopping for the best prices. You don’t have to redo the whole crib all at once!
Sell stuff you don’t need.
Again, the big problem is getting started. Go through closets and storage areas looking for items that you’ll never use again. Sit down and make a list of what you have, then look for comparable items on CraigsList or eBay. This should give you an idea of how to price your items so that they will sell quickly. For large, heavy items like furniture, CraigsList is a better choice, but smaller, more expensive items like jewelry may bring higher prices on eBay. If you use eBay, be prepared to get packing supplies and ship items promptly. If you have a large number of items, like a garage or storage unit full, have a yard sale! This is a great way to move a lot of stuff in just one weekend, and make some money, too.
Take better photos.
Nowadays, you don’t need to invest in expensive camera equipment to take great shots. Most smartphones have high-quality cameras with built-in special effects, so why not start practicing with yours? Experiment with camera angles, framing and editing. If you totally fall in love with photography, buy a camera and take classes!
This one is tough. If you’ve been smoking for years, it’s very hard to stop, and willpower alone won’t cut it. Do a bit of research into smoking cessation methods and find one that doesn’t sound too horrible. You need one that you can stick to and not give up after a week. Set a goal, like “I will quit smoking by June 1,” and work toward that goal. If the gum and other products help you, use them. Whatever you need to achieve your goal, use it. When you succeed, treat yourself to a nice gift. You deserve it!
Organize your closet.
Do you wear the same outfits over and over just because that’s all you can find? If your closet is a disaster area, you probably have perfectly good garments that aren’t being worn simply because they’re stuck in the back or stuffed in a drawer. Launch Project Closet by taking every item out of your closet(s) and placing them on the bed.
Examine each piece and ask yourself if you really want to wear it in 2014. If the answer is no, toss it in a bag that will go to your favorite charity. Pick up garments and pair them with other pieces for new combinations. This takes time and patience, but the result can be lots of new possibilities with clothes you already have. Plus, removing those no-longer-wanted items can make more room for the things you wear most often. Donate that bag of rejects before the end of the year and get a receipt that you can use as a deduction on your taxes!
Resolve to make 2014 your best year ever!
|Written on 12/22/2013 by Linda Cauthen.|