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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

The Top 4 New Year’s Resolutions and How to Realistically Achieve Them

According to a YouGov poll the top 2018 New Year’s Resolutions were:

  1. Eat Healthier

  2. Get More Exercise

  3. Save (more) Money

  4. Focus on Self-Care (get more sleep)

Only 46% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions were successful.  That’s less than half.

Many people see the New Year as a chance to reset. A chance to start over. But by February the excitement of the challenge has been lost. And, therefore, so has the focus.

Here are some strategic plans and simple ideas to realistically achieve these New Year’s goals:

Eat Healthier

It is so easy to fail in the “eating healthier” category because junk food and fast food are cheaper and more convenient. The best way to begin eating healthier is to plan ahead. One of the most recent fads is to meal prep for the week on Sundays. While that may not be realistic for everyone doing a little planning ahead can make running through the drive-thru at the fast food joint on the way home from work a little less tempting.

If you don’t have time to meal prep at least make a meal plan. Do your shopping for the week with a menu for each day in mind. When you leave for work in the morning already know what you will be preparing for dinner in the evening. Keep it simple. Choose a protein, a vegetable and a salad. If you want to have a meal that requires more prep time and more ingredients, save that for the weekend when you know you will have a little more time. Cook enough that you can take the leftovers in your lunch the next day.

Try to eliminate or at least lessen your sugar intake. Drink more water. When you do eat out be conscience of your choices. And give yourself a cheat meal once in a while. Being to strict can cause frustration and lead to failure.

Get More Exercise

There are a lot of reasons to get more exercise. Improving overall health, losing weight, and stress relief are the biggest benefits of exercise. But success in this area will begin first by defining what “more” is.

Set realistic goals. If you never exercise now don’t expect that you will exercise 5 days a week and stick with it.  Shoot for 3 days a week. If you are just starting out even 20 minutes 3 times a week will make a noticeable difference.

Small things can make a big impact. Park farther away when you go to work or shopping to get extra steps in each day. Get a fitness tracker. Set goals for increasing your steps and your water intake. Go online and find a challenge with a plan such as Couch to 5k (Here is a couch to 5k week by week plan).

Are you looking to change up your fitness routine? If you are a runner add weights 2 days a week. Go to Pinterest and find HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts you can do at home. These are easily doable workouts and can be done right where you are without equipment.

Save Money 

Define the purpose of your savings? Are you saving for vacation, a large purchase down payment such as a car or house, or are you wanting simply to begin saving for retirement? Then design a plan. If you are saving for a trip or a purchase open a separate savings account at your bank and have a designated amount transferred there from your regular account on a weekly or monthly basis. Don’t allow yourself to have a debit card to this account. Make it a more difficult to access.

Find ways to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Pack your lunch and save $5 to $7 a day ($25-$35 a week). Brew your own coffee at home and take it to work with you. Splurge on the flavored creamers you can buy at the local grocery store to spruce it up a little. A tall frappuccino at Starbucks is $3.95. That’s another $20 a week saved. Transfer these savings to your special savings account and watch it grow.

When you begin to save for retirement reach out to your employer to get information about their 401k or other retirement plans. If that is not available or you want to look at other options reach out to a reputable financial advisor. Find one that is knowledgeable about IRA’s, savings bonds, stocks and other saving and or investment options.

Don’t forget to budget for a little fun in your life. If you like to eat out or drink a fancy coffee – go ahead and do it.  Just use it as a treat and not an everyday habit.

Focus on Self-Care

We need to learn to take better care of ourselves. We are not at our best when we are tired and overstressed. We are not good parents, good spouses, good friends, or good employees when we are pouring from an empty cup. Make yourself a priority.

Go to bed earlier. How can I work all day, spend time with my family, get all my household chores done and still get to bed at a decent time? Again, the answer is to have a plan. Just like you make a weekly menu for your meals you can make a weekly plan for your chores. Don’t try to get everything done in one day (20-30 minutes of cleaning and tidying a day will help maintain an orderly household). Schedule your chores and make note of it where you can see it each day (on the fridge or even as a reminder on your calendar). If you have children at home include them in the chore plan. All chores and homework are to be done before any screen time is allowed. This goes for the adults too.

Set an alarm to end your screen time an hour before bed time. Screen time before bed can sabotage good sleep. Blue light emitted from cell phones, tablets and computers increases cortisol in the brain which makes us more alert and inhibits the release of melatonin which helps us to sleep. Allow your body to get sleepy naturally by shutting all devices down at least an hour before you want to fall asleep.

What are your goals for the New Year? Through strategical planning, you can easily and realistically achieve the goals you set for yourself this next year.

For more strategic planning tools, sign up for the Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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