New Year’s Resolutions: Bigger isn’t always better

Happy 2014, sweet readers!

I hope your New Year’s celebration was all you wanted it to be and more. My boyfriend and I chose to stay in this year. We ate shrimp, drank champagne and watched a bunch of episodes of Game of Thrones. It was nice to just relax for a change. New Year’s Day we spent rock climbing at Rocks State Park in Jarrettsville, which started me thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

Some resist the urge to make resolutions for one reason or another. I prefer to call them “goals” rather than resolutions – it feels like less pressure to me. Some of the most common resolutions include losing weight, breaking up with someone, quitting a job or finding a new one, quit smoking/drinking, eat healthier, etc, etc.

Unfortunately most people never accomplish their resolutions because the goal set by the individual is too high or difficult, which results in a feeling of depression or failure. Most of these feelings can be avoided simply by amending those resolutions to simpler, more detailed goals. I’ll give you a few examples of some 2014 resolutions that I’ve changed into goals that may be easier to achieve.

Original resolution: Lose weight

Amended resolution: Reduce take-out food intake to once per two weeks and work out one extra day per week. Everyone wants to lose weight – even people who don’t need to lose weight want to get more fit – and this is probably the most popular resolution to make. Gyms are packed in January and by March the treadmills are empty. Instead of making a vague statement like, “I want to lose weight,” make a more accomplishable and detailed goal. Reduce your take-out intake to once a week; take a cooking class to learn how to make your own meals; start taking lunch to work three times a week. As far as working out goes, you don’t need to join a fancy expensive gym to lose weight. Walk around the parking lot during your lunch break, take your dog on longer walks, do one outside activity per week.

Original resolution: Make more money

Amended resolution: Do the best I can at the job I currently have and find at least five ways to save money each month. You don’t need a raise to make more money. A lot of times we are overspending anyway. Instead of buying clothes at the mall, take a look at thrift stores in the area. Go through your pantry and find ways to make food with the stuff you already have – I can’t tell you how many items I have on my shelves that I haven’t used because I can’t think of a recipe off the top of my head that includes that item. Buy candy at a convenience store instead of at the movie theater – or take it a step further and rent a movie instead of going out to the movies.

Original resolution: Buy a new house/car/other expensive item

Amended resolution: Set realistic monetary goals to save money for things I want in the future. Saving money is hard work and you definitely have to be dedicated if you want to accomplish this one. But by setting monetary goals (i.e., saving $50 from each paycheck) it gets a lot easier. If you don’t already have a savings account, open one and put money in with each paycheck. Treat it like another bill – $100 for cable, $800 for rent, and $50 for savings – and you will be on track to saving in no time. One thing that helped me was opening my savings account at a different bank entirely – that way it was much harder for me to take money out of my savings account and less tempting to use it because the process was more time-consuming.

Let’s face it – we all know exactly how to achieve our resolutions. It’s the discipline behind the resolution that is the difficult part. We all know that to lose weight you have to watch what you eat and exercise. But resisting that slice of chocolate cake and getting up off of the couch are the hardest parts of achieving weight loss. Saving money is easy – open a savings account and put funds into it. It’s the discipline of not spending everything you earn that is the hard part.

By taking these seemingly huge resolutions and breaking them down into manageable goals where you change little habits daily, you will see yourself succeed more often and faster than if you put the pressure on yourself to change everything all at once.