Sunday, December 28, 2008

taking small steps to a brighter new year

with a new year on its way in, a lot of people will be make new year's resolutions.
i haven't made a resolution in a few years, because i always fail. and here's why:

i jump into my goal with both feet, and i end up miserable within the first week.
you need to develop what you want to achieve into a habit first.
habits are better formed by taking small steps towards your goal.
and the more small steps you are able to take and keep up with, the better you will feel about yourself and the more healthy behaviors you are likely to take on.
the more small steps you make into habits, the better chance you have of achieving your new year's resolution!

let's focus on the most common new years resolutions (remember, just picking one of these small changes will make a difference!):

losing weight:

- cut out soda. if you need something sweet to drink, try dry mixes like crystal light. if you get the generic version, it'll be cheaper on your wallet also. i have actually been able to do this for a year, and i have no temptation to go back to drinking soda on a regular basis. if you need to, try just cutting back on one soda a day and work your way towards having none.

- add more fruit and veggies to your diet. even if it's eating one more serving of fruits or vegetables than you normally would not have eaten. do it.

- cut out desserts. or if you need something to munch on, try a lower calorie alternative such as sugar-free jello and popcorn/pretzels.

- eat small meals every 4 hours or so. it helps curb cravings and keep metabolism going strong.

- take the stairs more instead of the elevator. maybe you couldn't take the stairs all day long, but try to slowly work it into your daily routine.

- go for walks with your ipod or friend/dog.

- exercise for just a few minutes a day, everyday.

saving money:

- if you haven't already, open a savings account, duh!

- get a savings account that you can easily deposit money into on a regular basis, but it is a bit harder to withdraw back out. i have a few savings accounts set up at ING that i can categorize for my different needs (doctor visits, christmas, new wardrobe, car repairs). i then automatically have a certain amount taken out of my checking account on payday for these savings accounts. some accounts get more and some get less, but at least by the time i need to use the money in them, it'll be there! and if i never end up using that money, i simply roll part of it into a CD at ING. they make everything super easy.

- shop only ad items at the grocery store and use coupons. if you stock up on your most used grocery items when they go on sale, you won't need to buy them every week, therefore you will only need to buy food when it goes on sale. i would suggest learning how to properly freeze food to get more use out of it. also meal planning is great for people who only shop sales.

- try to live only just a few dollars a day. make it a goal to see if you can live on $5-$15 a day. can you go without that morning trip to starbucks? could you walk to work instead of driving and paying for parking? will you have money left over at the end of the week?

- invite friends over to your place for movies or board games instead of meeting at a bar or club for a social gathering. potlucks would be another great thing to have instead of going out to eat with friends.

- don't buy something just because it's on sale. do you have a real use for this item? do you need it? can you live without it? could it be given to someone else as a gift? you should ask yourself a series of questions and even sleep on it (if you can) before making one of these impulse purchases.

- if you already have a mountain of debt that you need to take care of, work your hardest towards knocking out your smallest debts first (small steps!) and then work towards the bigger debts.

- cut out a daily indulgence. buy coffee everyday? lunch? cigarettes? take small steps to cut these items back. this goes hand and hand with trying to live on a set amount of money every day.

making your relationships stronger:

- give out compliments, not just to your significant other, but to everyone you see on a daily basis. i like to GET compliments, so i know others will like to receive them!

- listen! focus on conversations you are having with people. be sure to re-state some of what is being said so that the other person will feel like you genuinely care. it's frustrating talking to someone who you don't feel is listening to a word you are saying! this one might actually seem shallow, but a lot of people simply do not listen.

- return emails to your friends and loved ones as soon as you read them! otherwise, they will get pushed to the bottom of your inbox and will not be replied to for days... or never. it hurts when my mom forgets to reply back to my emails, so i know that it probably is not a good feeling for others when i forget to reply back to theirs. this is a big bad habit of mine.

- perform small favors for your loved ones. back rubs, doing the dishes, making breakfast in bed!

- call someone you love on a regular basis. if i had the luxury of more cellphone minutes, i would call my family more often. it's nice to hear their voices, rather than just their typed words.

- share in something your significant other enjoys. show interest, even if you find it boring or... gross.

remember, these small steps can change your behavior and changing your behavior only takes 2-4 weeks. these are things you can continue to do for a lifetime, as long as you are willing to do it one small step at a time!
it is suggested that you should try each small step for about 30 days and then work towards adding another small step to your routine for the next 30 days, and so on.
this is something i will be doing in my own life in the new year, and i would like you to join me and share with me your experiences!

another good thing for achieving your goals is to set up an account at 43things.com.
you can make a list of 43 goals you'd like to achieve. they can be big or small... normal or weird. you can write entries about your goals and how you plan on achieving them and the progress you are making. other users can then cheer you on to help you get your goals achieved! i have been a member of this website myself for a year and a half. and i have achieved 128 things!

remember, you wouldn't be where you are at now if you had not formed the habits that you have. let's turn it around this year!

2 comments:

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Great tips! I love them---especially the relationship ones. I'm doing a 26-part series of baby steps (one every two weeks) toward better self-care over the coming year on my blog.

na0 said...

sally - sounds like a great idea! i will watch for it. :)