1) Eat healthy and exercise regularly.
Ah, the infamous resolutions to eat healthy and exercise regularly, code word for “lose weight.” Generally, people use the holiday season as an excuse to binge one last time before the New Year. We rationalize that extra helping of Christmas dinner with the thought that it will be our last bout of unhealthy eating, for it is certain we will be at the gym every week post-holidays. In fact, each January, gyms offer promotions and deals to those who want to take action on this resolution. However, according to Time Magazine, “60% of gym memberships go unused and attendance is usually back to normal by mid-February.” This statistic is undoubtedly due to the mere fact that we live in a world of lazy people.
2) Drink less.
This infamous resolution comes to head on day one of the New Year. That “I’m never drinking again” feeling you get after your New Year’s Eve shenanigans, with your head in the toilet and your pounding headache and your makeup smeared down your face that goes unnoticed until Pauly at the neighborhood deli/coffee shop points it out to you that morning. Drinking less kills many birds with one stone: It helps you lose weight, it helps your insides stay healthier, and it helps you make better life decisions. Why is this resolution always broken? Because most of humans’ social activities revolve around alcohol in some way, and the confidence/fun/innuendos that alcohol brings trumps caloric intake and liver protection any day.
3) Learn something new.
It could be French, it could be the clarinet, it could be how to cook something other than microwavable Stouffer’s lasagna. The sky is the limit, and in this great world, there are so many fascinating things to discover. You may also discover, however, that the spitting-sounds of the French language repulse you, that the average price of a clarinet is over $50 and that you’ll settle for Stouffer’s if it means you don’t have to do dishes at the end. Looks like you’ll be saving something new to learn for the following year after all.
4) Quit smoking.
To quit smoking is an ongoing resolution that reaches its peak at the start of the New Year. If you really want to, kudos to you. We know you know its harmful effects and inevitable death sentence. Yet why is it that only an estimated 15% of people who try to quit manage to stay cigarette-free six months later, according to Time? But hey, best of luck (cough you’ll need it cough).
5) Better work/life balance.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says we need both safety and belonging to reach self-actualization. Under safety comes employment, and under belonging comes friendship, family, and intimacy. In looking at the hierarchy, accomplishing safety comes before accomplishing belonging, making the latter more prized, or more valuable. Working is great: it brings in income, the food on your table, and the vacation you take over the summer. Sure your mother might get on your last nerve, or your friends give you tough love about your semi-pathetic breakup. But it is those people who embody the un-tangible items in life that simply cannot be ignored for your job as an accountant, lawyer, writer, and so forth. If you don’t believe me, read his theory on human motivation. Brilliant stuff.
A new year does not mean the diminishing of world problems, and volunteers are always needed. The season of giving is still swinging, so people feel inclined to volunteer and make their free time a bit more meaningful. Spending a few hours at a city soup kitchen counts, so does visiting the old age home. “Volunteering” doesn’t mean going to Nicaragua and building a school, nor does it mean attending every Habitat for Humanity meeting and embarking on a weeklong journey to New Orleans. Anything counts really, for it is better than nothing at all. It’s rare you meet someone who hasn’t been rewarded in some way after their volunteer efforts. Do it, I dare you.
7) Save Money
Do whatever you need to do to accomplish this, because with the inevitable debt you rang in over the best year, you don’t really have a choice. Be that person who hoards coupons, take advantage of Dunkin Donuts’ muffin and coffee deal, or buy everything used: cars, books, clothes, you name it. While this too is another broken resolution, it actually is more doable than you’d think, just takes some effort.
8) Get organized
This might mean your kitchen, your bedroom drawers, your desk at the office, or your social life. You had your fun for the holiday season, and you probably just had a good chunk of time off of work, so there’s no excuse as to why this shouldn’t get done. Heck, getting your s**t together is like shedding the weight that has been on your messy shoulder for the last year. It’s a great feeling being able to sleep in your bed without the accumulated candy wrappers, or walk into work and being able to find a damned paperclip.
9) Read more.
You and I both know that we haven’t had time to sit down with a cup of tea and read a book. Our past year has been filled with deadlines and assignments and attempted sleep, but the New Year season is sort of an in between time to plant your worn out being on a couch and read for hours. That is why reading more becomes a resolution. It could be a biography of George Washington, it could be Fifty Shades of Grey, it could be a picture book. Only things not allowed are textbooks, policy briefs, and the like. You’ll be temped to watch some trashy E! show, but whip out a book instead; you’ll be happy you did.
10) Finish those around the house “to-do” lists.
Making the physical list is half of it; you’re almost there! Things like cleaning out the gutter, planting mums for the spring season, organizing old pictures, or making piles of giveaway clothes to Good Will all sound easy enough, but you and I both know that for some reason, they just never get done. Set a day aside, early in the year so it comes a bit more realistic to get done, before your first to-do list is on the master, later on to-do list.