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New Year’s Resolutions

About half of people make New Year’s resolutions. Of those, only 65% will try to keep those New Year’s resolutions. That’s right, 35% of those who make New Year’s resolutions won’t even make the first step toward achieving the goal. Are you making resolutions this year? What are they?

Clearly, according to the statistics above, making and keeping New Year’s resolutions is not as easy as it seems. I’m only making two this year – surely I’ll be able to keep both of them.

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping New Year’s resolutions doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s a few tips to make keeping them a snap.

  • Keep your number of resolutions low. Just a few resolutions will be easier to keep – and to keep track of – than a long life-changing list.
  • Be specific about what you want. β€œBe a better cook” is a good one. But in exactly what way? Do you want to turn out nourishing meals in under thirty minutes for your family? Or do you want to recreate those Sunday dinners of your youth that took your mother and aunts several hours to prepare?
  • Be specific about how to achieve your goal. To continue from the previous example, would you work your way through a cookbook, a la Julie and Julia? Take classes at a local grocery store or cookware store? Attend culinary school?
  • If you have to stop for a while, don’t consider it failure; just start up again. There are times in my life – for days or even weeks – when doing anything related to a goal of my own would have to include the corollary: spend less time with family. Since that’s not something I want to do (and I suspect most people feel the same), I do have to put my goals on hold. But once I have time again, I pick up where I left off.

Resolution gurus will often have additional suggestions: write down your resolutions, visualize regularly, tell a friend or family member, reward yourself for accomplishments along the way. Those can all be helpful. Pick and choose what works for you.

Making New Year’s Resolutions

So, with how to keep resolutions out of the way, how about some ideas for what resolutions to make? The most popular resolutions made each year include getting fit, managing stress, losing weight, eating healthier, and helping others.

Getting fit and managing stress can go together. Running and hiking with my dog is relaxing for me, but it takes a chunk of time, so I often turn to yoga when I’m feeling stressed during the day. Yoga can be done just a few poses at a time, so I fit it into those times when I’m sauteing vegetables or waiting on someone else.

Once, I saw a woman in line at the grocery store doing a series of poses. Not the complicated ones, but she had clearly put some thought into what would work in a line without bothering other people. I thought that was a clever use of time.

Yoga Journal has an interactive pose sequence builder that’s online and free. If you want to save the pose sequence, you’ll need to register (also free and they haven’t sent me any spam or β€œspecial offers”), but you can use it without registering.

If you don’t want to put together your own sequence, Rachel Shulman has some suggestions for poses for farmers and gardeners.

Losing weight and eating healthier are another good pair. Apparently, it’s possible to lose weight on a diet of Twinkies or nothing but potatoes, but it’s not as much fun as eating a variety of healthful and flavorful fresh foods.

For some ideas on how to eat healthier, Eat.Drink.Better has an extensive archive of vegan recipes and vegetarian recipes. The new cookbook Appetite for Reduction features many quick and delicious low-calorie vegan recipes and is just hitting the stores.

Helping others is its own reward (how’s that for a clichΓ© in this clichΓ©-ridden season?) If you have time, then volunteering might be the way to go. If you’re a gardener, consider volunteering at a local school garden or a community garden. Cooks and nutritionists are also welcome to give short talks and demonstrations at schools; just contact the principal of the school.

If you lack time, many organizations need money or items. Feeding the hungry is a never-ending effort. Donating money or plants and tools to a school garden or helping them find grants for a school garden is another option. Have too many of those individual shampoos and soaps from the many hotels you stay in while traveling? Donate those and some new or gently-used blankets to a women’s shelter or homeless shelter.

Having said all that, my own resolutions are these: get better at soccer (action plan redacted for length!) and try a new recipe every week. What resolutions for the New Year are you contemplating?

Image of New Year’s Eve over Gothenburg, Sweden by mescon, used with Creative Commons license.
Image of list of resolutions and hiking dog by Florian, used with Creative Commons license.
Image of child gardening by Arlington County, used with Creative Commons license.

7 comments
    1. Heather Carr

      Writing them down helps me, too. Zachary suggested we might put a forum on our Facebook page for everyone to post their progress on their New Year’s resolutions.

      I’m thinking that might be a good idea for me. There’s nothing stopping me from not keeping my resolution to improve at soccer. I could just continue to embarrass myself at the games each week.

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