Resolutions: Preparing for a Better Year

If you are reading this, then you must have survived Christmas.  Congratulations!  Sure, there were probably some sleepless nights because you gave up your bed to a relative.  Also, there was likely at least one favorite dish broken by your tipsy great-uncle.  Alternatively, you might have spent countless hours and dollars picking out the perfect gifts for people, only to receive a pair of wool socks in return.  Nevertheless, you lived to tell about it.  Now you have the reprieve of getting back into your rhythm at work to try to normalize yourself.  However, there’s no time to rest because you’ve got to figure out your New Year’s resolutions. 

Since you are short on time, let’s use your lunch hour to discuss some of the things you could do to ensure that 2020 is truly a prosperous new year.

Resolutions and Self-Reflection

Photo of a woman engaging in self-reflection in a mirror as part of her resolution.
Self Reflection by Maria Rantanen | CC by

Before you can dive into your resolutions, it’s a good idea to do a little self-reflection.  This will give you an opportunity to think about things you did in past years.  So, which things worked?  Do some things need a little recalibration? Which resolutions were a no-go?  Once you have considered and analyzed your past, you can move forward strategizing your new resolutions.

Furthermore, self-reflection can help you recognize your past behaviors.  Remember, past behavior is a pretty good indicator of future behavior.  Therefore, now would be a good time to implement a fail-safe plan for those moments when you know you’ll falter.  So, devise a failsafe for each resolution you have.  After you’ve created some goals and a roadmap for yourself, you can forge into the year confident with your resolutions.

Making Changes and Avoiding Pitfalls

Now, here are some common resolutions, along with their pitfalls.

Image of a man holding up his shirt to show his abdominal muscles.
Photo by Christine Yanner

Diet

It only seems appropriate to kick off this list of resolutions with the first half of a dynamic health duo.  Diet often tops the list of New Year’s resolutions, and it’s no surprise.  According to studies, people feel like they would be happier if they could lose weight and be healthier.  Furthermore, research indicates that getting a handle on diet can have the biggest impact on losing weight, compared to other weight loss strategies. 

However, not everyone feels confident about how to begin the weight loss journey where diet is concerned.  Admittedly, it can seem very overwhelming.  Therefore, we look to the experts for their recommendations.  So, for starters, consider engaging in a little self-reflection again.  This time, write down the things you know you eat on a daily basis.  Also, estimate how much of those things you consume.  Then, start a food journal to log what you actually eat.  Once you know your areas of weakness, you can begin addressing them one by one.

Still, a common diet resolution pitfall is temptation.  This is where your failsafe comes into play.  For example, if you know that your weakness is chocolate, have a small stash of dark chocolate chips on hand.  Let a few of those melt in your mouth, instead of grabbing a candy bar to satisfy you.  You’ll see that your cravings will minimize, and less chocolate will go further.  Apply that strategy to other dietary weaknesses, and you’ll find yourself adopting better habits in no time.

Photo of three people exercising as part of a New Year's resolution.
Photo by Christine Yanner

Exercise

The second half of the dynamic health duo is a resolution to exercise more.  This is the piece that, when coupled with diet, can expedite the weight loss or muscle building efforts. Exercise, however, is easier said than done.  That’s because we can’t feel the pain of exercise when we only envision doing it. 

So, how should we kick off the exercise resolution?  Well, there’s no special equipment necessary.  You simply need to put one foot in front of the other.  In other words, just take the first step. Whether walking, running, swimming, or any other form of exercise, get out and move.  The first steps are always the hardest.  After you get going, you’ll see that the momentum will carry you on.

A common exercise resolution pitfall is lack of motivation.  Inevitably, there will be rainy days, or days when you are sore, or days when you simply aren’t in the mood to sweat.  However, those are the moments when pushing through will pay off tenfold and maintain your momentum.

Sleep

Now, one resolution people often let fall by the wayside the quickest is sleep.  Americans have a tendency to underestimate the value of sleep, even as they resolve to sleep more.  So, this is something that you’ll need to be intentional about improving.

In order to foster better sleep, consider focusing your efforts on better sleep habits.  Changing the time you exercise and eating sleep-inducing foods are easy ways to get started.

A common sleep resolution pitfall is technology.  Be aware that hours spent watching Netflix or answering emails in bed do not count toward hours of sleep.  Whether it’s work or entertainment, consider unplugging at least an hour before bedtime. 

Finances

Of course, no list of resolutions is complete without mentioning money.  People typically want to make more money, save more money, or manage money better.  So, deciding what your goals are will help establish a target for accomplishing them. 

Photo of a piggy bank with cash and coins in front of it, indicating improved finances for a New Year's resolution.
Photo by Christine Yanner

Changing financial habits is not an easy thing to do over night, however.  So, know going into this one that you are not going to get rich quick.  Instead, recognize your small victories, and remind yourself that a penny saved is a penny earned.

A common financial resolution pitfall is avoiding a budget.  A surefire way to fall off the wagon is to think you can change your finances without adhering to a budget.  Therefore, make it your top priority to establish a realistic budget before you tackle this resolution.

Organizing and Decluttering

Whether you realize it or not, if you have decided to implement a resolution, it will require organizing or decluttering to some degree.  However, you might be someone who wants to get rid of things, or simplify your surroundings.  So, start by taking inventory of what you have.  Then, decide on the things you’re willing to part with.  Finally, plan where you want to put the remaining items.  This is an easy three-step approach to improve your chances of being successful.

There is still a common pitfall with this one, however.  Namely, if you don’t utilize your organizational methods on a continual basis you will quickly end up unorganized and with a bunch of clutter all over again.  So, be sure to dedicate a little time daily to planning and organizing.  As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Vices

A resolution to quit vices is one of the hardest to achieve.  This is because it takes permanent rewiring of the brain to accomplish. Smoking and drinking are among the common vices people look to kick.  However, both can be highly addictive, and you might need professional intervention to be successful.

A common pitfall is substituting one vice for another.  While this may seem like a negative on one hand, it’s also a necessity.  This is because if we are creatures of habit.  Furthermore, if your brain is already predisposed to some form of addiction, it will require a new habit to fill that void.  So, be intentional about creating a new positive habit instead of replacing the old bad habit with a new bad habit. 

Attitude

Now, I’m a firm believer that every new year should begin with a resolution to improve our attitude.  I don’t care if you are Gandhi or Mother Teresa, you’ll need an attitude adjustment at some point.  In fact, Mother Teresa famously said, “The miracle is not that we do this work but that we are happy to do it.” 

Photo of a little girl with a big smile on her face.
Photo by Christine Yanner

So, go into each day with a feeling of gratitude, and chances are your attitude will follow suit.  If that doesn’t work, however, try reading a daily devotional, or meditating on an inspirational quote.  Actually, making positivity your mantra is a great way to train yourself to see the best in situations.

A common attitude resolution pitfall is expecting others to change.  Therefore, don’t rely on others for your own happiness.  Instead, try to find ways to be happy despite other peoples’ negativity.

Out with the Old, In with New Resolutions

In short, remember not to try to make all your changes at once.  Try starting with one resolution first.  With continuous dedication, you will see that all the other pieces will begin to fall in place thereafter.

So, perhaps you could start today by being thankful for the wool socks you received for Christmas.  Wouldn’t they be perfect for a post-Christmas hike in the woods?  Now that would be a great way to kick off your daily exercise resolution!

Remember that there is a lot of truth to Napoleon Hill’s saying, “The body achieves what the mind believes.”  So, believe you can achieve these resolutions, and you will begin to see your efforts pay off.  Happy New Year!

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This is not meant to provide legal counsel or advice. Every situation is different. Please contact an HR professional or employment attorney before taking any action.

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