We love a good New Year’s resolution. A promise to work towards doing better in everything from our health to our jobs? We can get down with that. Unfortunately, the kick-ass momentum we usually burst into January with tends to dwindle as the year progresses.
“Making a resolution for the entire year is daunting and hard to maintain,” says Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder and CEO of The Stress Institute and the Mindful Living Network. “People should make smaller changes, mini resolutions, that they can carry out more effectively and with more longevity.” General is the enemy when it comes to resolutions. So, we picked five of the most common offenders and asked the experts to turn them into more sustainable and more successful promises for the year. Scroll down to see if your resolution needs some editing.
Don’t say: I’m going to go to the gym more.
Do say: I’m going to move daily.
Having trouble finding an elliptical or matching pair of dumbbells at the gym lately? January is high time for new gym memberships with the influx of resolutioners looking to get fit and shed some pounds. Dedicating to a fitness center is a great first step, but, for some, actually getting there to work out can be tough when schedules fill up. The good news is: All you have to do is commit to moving daily. “Moving has little do with the gym,” says Jorge Cruise, celebrity fitness trainer and author of Tiny and Full ($17, amazon.com). “It’s about moving in a way you can commit to everyday, like walking to work or going to the bathroom on the 32nd floor if you work on the first floor. That eight-minute walk up the stairs a few times a day will make a huge difference.”
Don’t say: I’m going to eat healthier.
Do say: I’m going to eat vegan until lunch.
With all of the complicated discussion about what it really means for a food to be organic or all-natural or even healthy, committing to a cleaner diet seems trickier than ever. Instead of rejiggering everything you eat, Cruise suggests simply changing up breakfast. “Eating vegan until lunch is an easy way to reap the benefits of veganism, one of the healthiest diets, without doing a total lifestyle overhaul,” he says. “Veganism is the most filling way to get the least amount of calories. So, by front-loading your morning with plant-based foods, you’ll cleanse your body and be motivated to continue eating a healthy balanced diet throughout the day.”
Don’t say: I’m going to do better at work.
Do say: I’m going to learn a new skill.
Job security is a common cause for concern these days, so promising to work harder is a respectable resolution, but it’s also pretty subjective. Instead, focus on making yourself more valuable. “We all have toolboxes and our toolboxes are made up of our skills,” says Hall. “Learning a new skill makes you a greater asset, which will help relieve your stress about doing your job well.” So, pull your nose from the grindstone and take a front row seat in a coding class a la Karlie Kloss.
Don’t say: I’m going to stress less.
Do say: I’m going to practice better self care.
Stress is something we could all use a little (a lot) less of in the new year, but a general intention to just stress less probably won’t make it past January. Instead, Hall suggests practicing a little more self care and using the acronym SELF, which stands for Serenity, Exercise, Love, and Food, to guide you. “Stress triggers are different from person to person and SELF can be applied to each individual person and their schedule,” she says. Meaning, if you have 30 minutes, take 20 of them and meditate for serenity. If you only have ten minutes, take the stairs instead of the escalator to your next meeting. “Small steps to take better care of yourself are the building blocks to living a more confident, stress-free life,” says Hall.
Don’t say: I’m going to save more money.
Do say: I’m going to save X amount for X months.
Whether you want to save up for early retirement or hoard enough dough to finally buy yourself that Celine tote (not the mini, either!), saving money is so worth it in the long run. Instead of simply vowing to be a little stingier, resolve to save a specified amount over a specified period of time. “Break your resolution into chunk-sized pieces, or monthly goals, instead of annual goals,” says Eleanor Blayney, certified financial planner and president of Directions for Women. “Resolve to save a certain amount each month and set up a standing order to have that amount transferred to an savings account from your checking account.”