7 (totally doable) New Year's resolutions that will change your life
Goals that take just 10 extra minutes a day (or less), and can lead to big improvements in your health and happiness.
Does the New Year mean a new you — or another failed New Year’s resolution? Probably the latter for most of us, psychologists say, because thinking the flip of a calendar is enough to motivate us to ax all of our bad habits and behaviors is actually really unrealistic.
First of all, we’re not always as committed to those resolutions as we need to be to actually be motivated to stick with them. Instead of setting discrete, measurable goals for ourselves, we often set broad intentions, like exercise more. We don’t think clearly enough about how we will implement this change.
Plus, there’s the fact that we only have so much willpower we can turn to help us stick to the new habits. When people try to make multiple changes, they put multiple demands on that limited willpower and end up failing.
That means the more willpower it takes to skip the afternoon cookie break, the less you’ll have left to help you stick to your resolution to hit the gym that evening. Willpower — a type of mental energy — is actually fueled by glucose and can be strengthened and fatigued, just like our muscles.
What does work when it comes to resolutions is setting goals that are specific and attainable, so you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish it — and you do it.
Here a few such resolutions you can try in 2019 that each take 10 extra minutes a day (or less), and can lead to BIG, impactful improvements for your health, happiness and well-being.
- SET A DAILY INTENTION
It can be as simple as deciding not to overreact if your kids or another family member gets on your nerves — or take a walk over your lunch hour instead of not leaving your desk. If you feel like you’re living on auto-pilot, starting your day by setting a daily intention can help you feel more in control of your life and your actions. And over time, those intentions can each serve as a small step toward big changes, she says.
- CROSS OFF THE TOUGHEST TASK ON YOU TO-DO LIST FIRST
Figure out the toughest, most important or most intimidating task you want to get done by the end of the day and tackle it first. That way it’s done, so it’s not hanging over your head or stressing you out the rest of the day.
- START A BELLY BREATHING HABIT
Shallow breathing keeps our bodies in that high-stress, fight-or-flight mode. But deep belly breathing sends a message to our brains to relax. Slowing down your breath can slow down the chatter in your head, and reduce stress and anxiety. (You may also find yourself thinking more clearly and sleeping better)
How to do it: You can literally do this anytime and anywhere. Just, stop. Focus your attention on your breath. Let all your air out and take a deep inhale, then exhale, then repeat.
- TAKE THE STAIRS INSTEAD OF THE ELEVATOR
Stairs are a great way to quickly get the body moving, the heart rate up, and increase your metabolic rate – no gym required. It’s not the only change you’ll need to make if you have big weight-loss goals or want to get from the couch to a marathon finish line — but it can be the first step to just get in the habit of moving more, which can encourage you to be more active in other areas of your life, too.
5. APOLOGIZE AUTHENTICALLY
Whether you got in a tiff with a friend, family member or colleague, get better at apologizing by doing what you can to reconcile the conflict, rather than hold a grudge. It takes little risk and little time, but it can be intrinsically rewarding in a big way. Being able to say you’re sorry and mean it, makes it easier to get back to a positive mood after going through something difficult.
- TELL A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND ONE THING THAT WENT WELL EVERY WEEK
Too often we get hung up on the little things that go wrong from day to day, rather than focusing on everything that’s going right and what we have accomplished. Talking (out loud) about something that we’ve achieved helps us remember our true potential and the impact we’re having on the world around us.
- TAKE 10 MINUTES EVERY DAY TO DO SOMETHING FOR YOU
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work emails, after-school carpool schedules and life’s countless obligations. Spending 10 minutes of quality you-time could mean reading a magazine, meditating or playing with your pet. Focus on activities that not only make you feel good, but also relieve stress and improve your well-being (diving into a bag of potato chips or mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed are NOT the goal).
And whichever resolution you choose, remember to be committed, celebrate the small successes as you do big ones and go easy on yourself. Be ready for setbacks and forgive yourself when you fail (which you WILL do).