How to stick to your resolutions once and for all

Ah, the New Year. A time for holiday parties, staying up late and ringing in life’s next chapter. After all the glad tidings, good cheer and joyous choruses of Auld Lang Syne, many folks take a step back for reflection and to set goals for the year ahead. In other words, they make New Year’s resolutions.
Whether it’s saving money, getting in shape or ramping up face time with family and friends, resolutions are meant for personal growth – to give you something positive to strive for. Many people make resolutions to start a new year off on the right foot, but unfortunately, it’s just as common for people to break a resolution as it is to make one. Research suggests that 80% of new resolutions are broken by early February. The root cause? Setting goals that are just too lofty to achieve, leading to burnout and abandonment of reaching new milestones altogether.
But with the right approach and a bit of determination, achieving your goals in the New Year is possible. Here are three of the most common New Year’s resolutions and some simple tips to help you achieve them once and for all.
If your resolution is to...

...Save more money than last year

Saving money continues to be the most common New Year’s resolution for people in the US. While common, it’s a goal many struggle with. To see this through over the next 12 months, start simple: 
  • Set a specific target to hit by year end, then start saving right away. Invest a specific percentage each month into a designated retirement or savings account. By making monthly investments, it will be easier to track your progress throughout the year and make adjustments when necessary. 
  • Set your budget with savings in mind. At the start of the year, determine the amount you can automatically put into your savings account, and then budget with this “new” amount in your checking account accordingly. 
  • Consider how technology can support your efforts. Many banks and financial apps have features that round up change from all your debit card purchases into a savings or investment account. This small amount can add up to great sums over the course of a year, and the process is one you don’t really have to think about. Similarly, you can also use a monthly budgeting app to figure out where you can cut spending. If you’re spending 80 bucks per month at Starbucks, start brewing your own coffee and bringing it to work in a reusable mug.
Whatever path you choose for building up your savings, keep in mind the reason behind wanting to save more. Is it for a new car, to pay down debt, to take the trip of a lifetime or to set your family up for financial success? Whatever the reason and whatever your financial goal, write it down! Writing down your resolutions makes them feel “real” and you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.

...Be more active

“This year, I’m going to hit the gym and finally reach my fitness goals.” Working out more often is another commonly made – and broken – resolution because even just getting started can feel overwhelming or intimidating. To lessen the dread that can come with walking into the gym, stop worrying about getting yourself into shape to appear on American Ninja Warrior, and start by taking baby steps:
  • Use your free time wisely. We all have a few minutes of free time day each day. Spend it walking your dog around the block or taking a stroll through your neighborhood with your eight year old (to make it more exciting, consider racing from one driveway to the next every few blocks). Even actions like walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator can be greatly beneficial to achieving your goal.
  • To elaborate on the previous point, get your kids involved. Working out can double as good parenting. Run around the yard for a 30-minute soccer session with the little ones, or try your hand at inventing the next cool acrobatic jump on the trampoline. You’ll be surprised by how much you’re sweating at the end! 
  • If the gym truly terrifies you, work out from the comfort of your own living room. Hop online and do a quick search to find work out videos that fit your current fitness level. Videos ranging from 12 to 30 minutes are all over the internet, and soon you’ll find the right fitness personality for you. You may even learn to love their videos and the feeling of making progress alongside your virtual “instructor”. If videos aren’t your thing, you can easily concoct your own simple workout, like three sets of 15 jumping jacks, crunches and burpees.
For more on how to set and achieve your fitness goals, check out our previous blog post.

...Eat healthier

We all want to put the best nutrients into our bodies. But time constraints often mean ending up in the fast food drive-thru, much to our dismay. With a little planning, you can make healthy eating a reality and be well on your way to feeling like a better version of yourself:
  • Make drinking water fun. Let’s face it, some of us just don’t drink enough water. In the New Year, instead of grabbing that go-to can of soda to quench thirst (did you know they could end up making you thirstier?), consider getting yourself a water bottle that tracks water intake by the hour. Not only can you look at this as a fun challenge, but you’ll also likely feel the benefits over time. Really not a fan of regular water? Consider dropping in your favorite fruit to give your water a sweeter taste.
  • Skip the chip aisle. It’s easy to reach for the bag of potato chips in the pantry, but instead, open up the refrigerator for ready-to-eat cut up fruits and vegetables. Pair your favorite veggies with different dips or hummus to find out what you like most. You can go a step further by keeping these healthy snacks in the fridge at work so you don’t have to rely on the office chip bank when you’re craving an afternoon bite. And if you really do crave a crunch in your lunch, consider reduced fat or low sodium options. Healthier chips and crackers are on the shelves, and they taste better than you might think. 
  • Shake up your dinner menu. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice per week. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, you can use the search functions to find healthy, colorful and tasty ways to dress up your fish. Not a fan? Use social media to find other options that feature lean meats and chicken. Once you’ve found your favorite dishes, consider meal prepping over the weekend. If the food is already made, you’ll be less likely to hit the drive-thru on the way home. And remember to save the leftovers for lunch!
Regardless of the resolutions you choose in the New Year, designate a go-to accountability partner. Resolve with a friend, family member or co-worker to keep each other updated (and encouraged) as you put your plans into action. With the right plans in place and a partner for support, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your resolutions well-past the second week in February.