So, the ball has dropped. It is officially the new year and the holiday season is in our rearview mirror. Can you believe it? The decade may have just begun, but this could be the eighth year in a row you’ve made the same old resolutions.
How about making a new resolution not to continue that trend anymore? Make this year the one where you stick with your resolutions for longer than a few weeks. It’s pretty easy to set lofty goals and fall short when there is no game plan for tackling them.
According to Time magazine, some of the most tried and failed New Year’s goals are: losing weight and getting fit, getting out of debt and saving money, and starting to volunteer more regularly.
Below are some of our tips for committing to and carrying out your resolutions this year. It’s easy to spend the first week of the New Year living in accordance with your goals, but not so much for the following 51 weeks. Follow a few of our suggestions for staying on board with the changes you want to make for a better life in the new year.
1. Lose Weight and Get Fit
Did you join a gym promising yourself that you’ll go five times a week to make the money you spent worth it? Whether or not you shelled out cash for access to fitness equipment and classes, start small with your fitness goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a healthier physique.
Don’t promise yourself that you’ll run five times a week if it has been months since you’ve seen a treadmill. If it’s been awhile since you’ve sweat regularly, make it a goal to sweat three times a week, for 30 minutes each time. You can increase your fitness from there. Once you’ve set an attainable goal, schedule the time for workouts and stick to it. Write it in your planner. Program visits to the gym, or to your basement weight room, in your phone calendar.
Also, don’t be deterred from exercising if you can’t make it to the gym or to a class. Even if you can’t get to the gym or that yoga studio on your designated workout day, find exercise routines on YouTube or go for a walk or slow jog outside. A studio or fitness center isn’t the only place where you can exercise!
Buy a pair of weights and keep them at home. While you’re watching TV, lift! There are all kinds of instructions and videos that you can either purchase or find for free online. Grokker is just one online forum you can subscribe to that provides at-home workouts. Even if you sit at a desk all day, consider what you can do at this office. Read here for tips on how to increase your fitness while at work.
However much time you vow to devote to working out, stick to it! Remember that 20 minutes of exercise is better than nothing, and the accompanying endorphins will inevitably put you in a better mood. Even if you don’t have time for an hour-long spin class, a brisk walk on the treadmill for half the time will still help you reach your goals. You won’t regret waking up 30 minutes early or cooking dinner a few minutes late in order to get some fitness in for yourself.
2. Get out of Debt and Save Money
It’s never the wrong time to start thinking about how to improve your financial situation. The best way to get out of debt or to save more money is to plan for it. Don’t start cutting up your credit cards or backing out of social activities in a frenzy thinking that you can’t have any fun in order to reach your monetary goals.
The most effective way to start saving money is to record a plan for your funds. Start a budget today and stick to it. A budget is a financial plan that allows you to identify your goals, and a way to reach them. There are many ways to make a budget — there are online programs or you can track everything in an Excel Spreadsheet.
The key to knowing how much to save, or how much to set aside for loans, is identifying exactly where you sit financially and all the factors in your life that take money out of your pockets (or put money in them). To read about everything that goes into a budget, read here.
If you are in debt (and it is common to find yourself in this situation after the holidays!), consider paying off higher-interest loans with AAFMAA’s CAP Loan. An AAFMAA CAP Loan is a $4,000 loan at just 1.5% APR, and is available to certain ranks of servicemembers. A good way to utilize this loan is to pay off credit card loans with it. Since the average credit card interest rate is around 15%, paying back the CAP Loan is a money-saving alternative.
3. Give Back to the Community
It’s true that we would all benefit from serving the community around us. They say that the best way to stop thinking about your own problems is to help someone else solve theirs. So, the first step is to find a cause you are passionate about. As part of a military family, consider volunteering with Armed Forces-related non-profit organizations. You have the knowledge of and experience with military life that most of the world does not!
There are hundreds of military-oriented non-profit organizations. There are even organizations that would allow you to volunteer from your living room. For example, A Million Thanks is an organization that provides support for the military community, and arranges for people all over the world to write thoughtful letters and cards to deployed servicemembers.
Similar to exercising, the best way to make sure you are volunteering more in the new year is to make it part of your routine. Schedule certain days every week, or every month, to volunteer. One way to contribute to the Armed Forces – and to the community at large – is to donate blood if you are eligible. The Red Cross always needs blood products, so check here for requirements and to locate your closest blood donor center. You can donate whole blood every eight weeks, so you can easily get on a schedule with whatever organization you choose to donate with.
Bottom Line: There are countless ways to volunteer, so make it a point to discover an organization that you are passionate about. Google search and contact different organizations. Bonus: You can usually find an organization that needs your professional skills, as well, if you’re looking for a resume enhancer in addition to a volunteering opportunity.
Find something that you enjoy doing so that you never dread whatever community service activities you make part of your routine. If your community service is something you enjoy, you will be more inclined to stick to it on a regular basis. Don’t be shy with the organizations about what you are looking to do — there is a need for all kinds of skillsets and efforts!
No matter what your resolutions may be, planning is crucial. Take a second and jot down your goals as well as laying out a plan to hold yourself accountable to them. It’s easy to say you’ll never drink a soda again, for example, but following through with it for 365 days is something else. Planning to always have a full water bottle in your bag makes avoiding a Coke little bit easier.
In addition to planning, being kind to yourself is crucial. You may not make it to the gym one day, or you might splurge on an extra pair of jeans one afternoon at the mall. Or, perhaps you tried serving meals to the homeless and it just isn’t for you. That’s okay! As long as you resume your routine as soon as possible, or find an alternative where applicable, you’re on the right track!
Never give up on a resolution after a mistake. Make note of the triggers that tend to keep you away from your goals, and move onward!
It’s a new year, and tomorrow is always a new day. Enjoy every minute while doing your best to better yourself.
For the full list of commonly broken New Year’s resolutions, click here.