Made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Or perhaps you’ve already broken a few. No worries — making New Year’s resolutions is a tradition in which many of us partake but very few follow through. The reason for that annual abandonment of our would-be positive pursuits? We’re setting lofty, hard-to-obtain goals without any real plan of action. This year, think long and hard about your resolutions and how to reasonably achieve them — then chart out your plan of attack. Here are few ideas on what to concentrate on for resolution success in 2015, and a few common goals that aren’t worth your time or energy.
Save X dollars by X date. Instead of this year saying that you’re going to “save more money,” choose an actual dollar amount and make a list of real ways you can reach it. Perhaps you can cut a few non-essential expenses from your budget, have a portion of your paycheck direct deposited to your savings account, or take on a few side gigs or a part-time job if you have the extra time. It’ll also help to assign that savings goal to a specific intention, like paying off debt, making an investment, or going on vacation. By having a well-mapped outline of how you intend to stick to this resolution (with obtainable deadlines to meet), you’re much likelier to stay on track than if you broadly decide to simply “increase your savings.”
Read X books you’ve always meant to. Because I’m at my computer or on my phone all day, I get all of my news and other content online — and I’m sure plenty of you do, too. But while quick clips and snippets of current events are convenient, the Internet doesn’t compare to having a real book in your hands. Last year, instead of saying that I wanted to “read more books,” I set a goal of reading three new books from January to December. That may seem like a low number, but that’s what I decided I could reasonably handle (especially considering that I read zero books the year before). Because I had an actual figure in my head (with start dates for each book), I completed that resolution successfully. If you need more reasons to adopt this resolution and keep it, consider the fact that reading books has several scientifically proven health benefits, like stress reduction, memory improvement, and improved focus and concentration. You won’t hear anybody say that about spending the majority of your time surfing the web.
Set a specific fitness goal. Like the two resolutions above, generalizing your fitness-inspired declaration as “exercise more” is setting you up for failure. When will you start the new regimen? Do you have a workout partner? Why do you want to work on your fitness? Do you even have a gym membership? You can work all these questions out on your own, but the most important part of your resolution to get fit is to have a purpose and a plan for it. For instance, let’s say you want to participate in a 10K this year. If the race isn’t until May, you have five months to get your body ready for the 6.2-mile run.
To prepare, schedule the dates and times you plan to run (and treat it like any other appointment!) with a mini-goal of how many miles to reach each week. If you’re not in the greatest shape, start with one mile three times a week for a couple weeks, and gradually push yourself farther week after week until you’ve conditioned yourself to run a 10K.
Pick a bad habit to concentrate on curbing. Is there something you do that you don’t like about yourself? Perhaps it’s biting your fingernails, only brushing your teeth once a day, or maybe it’s drinking a bit too much. I was a longtime smoker who only quit last year, so I know how difficult it is to keep this resolution intact for a week, let alone an entire year. No matter the difficulty, however, if you want to change something about yourself, you first have to be conscious of it and then make a concerted effort to curb it. They say it only takes about three weeks to form a new habit, so if you can make your new habit not doing the old one before the end of January, you’re off to a great start.
Repair a relationship that’s broken. We’ve all hurt somebody’s feelings to the point that the relationship has been severely damaged (OK, maybe not all of us; I’m sure there are a few people left in the world who aren’t assholes), and most of us have been hurt badly enough that we’ve decided to steer clear of someone. It’s all part of real life. But if you want to repair a broken relationship, it’s possible — considering the other person feels the same way.
The first step is to consider the circumstances. Were you the offender or the offended? If you were the former, it’s your responsibility to reach out with your _genuine_ apology, only after you’ve accepted what you’ve done and are committed to keeping your apology free of “but”s. And what I mean by that is that it’s not a valid apology if you haven’t fully accepted the blame.
On the flip side, if you’ve been offended and you want someone to say they’re sorry to you, it’s OK to make it known that you’ve been hurt, but don’t expect the outcome for which you’re hoping. The other person’s apology is not up to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If they want to be part of your life, they will. If they don’t, good riddance.
— Mikey Rox