Do you dread making a New Year’s resolution each year? We can’t say we blame you too much. One study reported by Forbes shows that a paltry 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions over the long term. Regardless of your goal or what time of year you commit to self improvement, the key lies in starting small.
James Clear, author of the book, Atomic Habits, says, “rather than trying to do something amazing from the beginning, start small and gradually improve. Along the way, your willpower and motivation will increase, which will make it easier to stick to your habit for good.”
Here, we’ve come up with some easy ways to stick to some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Instead of trying to make a sweeping change in your life, follow our guide to incorporate small steps to lasting change.
New Year’s resolution #1: Losing Weight
Every year, getting in shape tops the charts of most popular New Year’s goals. Unfortunately, it’s also the most commonly broken resolution. Rather than simply saying you’d like to shed a few, why not commit to sussing out a fresh, new fitness routine? Maybe you’re skipping the gym because you don’t really enjoy going. You certainly wouldn’t be alone there! Instead, consider taking a free introductory course at your local barre studio (a great choice for adults who love dance) or if you need something with a faster pace, you may find an interval workout like Orange Theory flies by.
New Year’s resolution #2: Cook more at home
One of the biggest ways to sabotage a healthy lifestyle (and your bank account) is to rely on fast food or takeout several times each week. It’s great if you’d like to resolve to cook freshly prepared meals at home, but you’ll need a plan. Instead of making a vague plan to cook more, set up a Pinterest board with a collection of 15-minute meals that appeal to your whole family. It’ll be much easier to say no to takeout if you know a healthy, yummy dinner can come together even faster.
New Year’s resolution #3: Save money
Make 2020 the year of financial health. According to bigthink.com, it’s one of the top three resolutions people make. One of the best ways to get started? Set up an online savings account, decide on a weekly or monthly amount (it doesn’t have to be large!), then set up an auto-transfer from your main bank account.
Need more help? We love the Clever Girl Finance site, which has tons of helpful advice geared toward women. Here’s some of their best advice for beefing up your savings, even if you’re starting from zero.
New Year’s resolution #4: Get out of debt
When it comes to freeing yourself from debt, it’s easy to start strong and then lose interest (see what we did there?). So instead of declaring that you’ll be debt free by the time the ball drops to usher in 2021, select a deliberate repayment strategy with a deadline that’s realistic for the amount you need to pay off.
Some popular debt repayment plans are as follows:
- Snowball method. Here, you’ll pay off the smallest balance first, then apply the amount you’ve been paying on this debt to your next largest debt. The amount you throw toward your debt gets larger as these small accounts are paid off, much like a snowball rolling down a hill.
- Highest balance first. Not someone who needs to celebrate a small win right off the bat? Tackle your largest debt first, throwing every spare cent its way. Then, when you’ve achieved that goal, work on your smaller debt with less stress.
- Highest interest first. Keep more cash in your pocket in the long run when you opt to pay off your debt with the highest interest rate first, regardless of the balance.
New Year’s resolution #5: Get organized
While lots of people love to do nothing during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, others take the slower pace as an opportunity to purge their house from all the clutter that builds up throughout the year. That’s been my mission, and let me tell you—it feels SO good! Instead of resolving to organize your whole life, try tackling your biggest problem areas one-by-one.
Are your most-used pantry items on the tallest shelves? Time to rearrange the cabinets. Desk full of receipts from 2018? There are plenty of inexpensive drawer organizers on Amazon.
New Year’s resolution #6: Keep the house clean.
Remember, a vague resolution is a doomed resolution. So if you say you want to “keep the house cleaner” you’re likely to fall into your old habits before January is even over. Instead, resolve to instill better cleaning habits in your whole family by starting a chore chart to distribute the workload. If you’re used to dividing the cleaning into tasks, start with this planner from Passionate Penny Pincher. It’s a top-rated comprehensive guide that gives a whole-house view of the tasks it takes to keep your home in tip-top condition.
New Year’s resolution #7: Keep a journal
Hoping to keep a journal this year? One of those line-a-day journals like this one are the simplest way to start. Instead of setting aside precious time each day, you can develop the habit first and commit to lengthier entries once it’s established.
New Year’s resolution #8: Travel more
To commit to travel, identify what it is that’s making you procrastinate. For most people it’s one of two things:
- “It’s never a good time.” If you find you’re too busy to take time off, set a date as much as a year in advance. Request your PTO and arrange a house/pet sitter far and book your flights in the same day so you can sit back and relax until it’s time to depart.
- “It’s not in the budget.” A vacation doesn’t have to be lavish to be meaningful. Have a specific destination in mind? Set flight alerts and be flexible about your travel dates. Hotels cutting into your activity budget? Consider a location where friends or family can host you or borrow some camping equipment and drive to your closest national park.
New Year’s resolution #9: Spend more time with the kids
In my opinion, this is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. You wake up in the morning and swear this will be the day that you manage to get everything done and spend tons of time with the kids, just soaking them in and doing whatever they want to do. But of course, it almost never happens that way. One way I’ve found to be successful at getting more face time with your littles is to pencil in a one-on-one date night with each kid at least once a month. This way, it’s on your calendar and you can make it a priority. Have to reschedule? No worries; just make sure you put a new date on the calendar and do your best to stick with it.
New Year’s resolution #10: Reduce stress
It’s better to schedule your downtime than to not take any at all. Choose a time slot of at least 30 minutes once each week and enlist your partner to be “on call” for the kids. (And you can do the same for them!) It really doesn’t matter what you do during this time; take a bath, head to yoga, pick up a hobby, or just enjoy a quiet (!) moment with a cup of coffee.
If you’re a single parent, we see you – remember that sitters aren’t just for special events. A “Mother’s Helper” who comes to your house to help out while you’re home runs just $7-10 per hour on average. While your budget may be tighter on a single income, $20 a month is a small and worthwhile investment in your mental health so you can be fully present for your kids.