Ten New Years Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Every year, we create aspirational New Years’ resolutions that we are determined to keep. Inspired by the wave of get-healthy energy that January brings, we think that maybe this year will finally be the year that we eat better, lose weight, be a better friend, or save money! Right?

And yet, year after year, the same thing happens: we fail to keep our resolutions, even when we have the best of intentions in setting them. Gyms and fitness studios are totally swamped in January, but by February, they’re back to half-empty. An informal poll I conducted of my Facebook followers revealed that noone had experience successfully keeping a New Years’ resolution for any meaningful amount of time. Not surprising, actually.

What’s happening here? Why can’t we do this?

One of the biggest reasons we have trouble implementing New Years’ resolutions is that our goals are too lofty, nebulous, and undefined. We make blanket statements about how we’d like to change and we usually lack a specific vision of how to get there. Without a blueprint for how to accomplish our goal, our admirable vision gets tossed by the wayside as soon as it becomes inconvenient.

So, how can we do this? How can we successfully use January as an opportunity to remind ourselves of what’s important, set intentions, and begin to create the lives we envision?

By setting smaller, bite-sized, manageable goals.

Below, I’ve created a list of ten realistic New Years’ resolutions. Each of these is easily accomplishable, inexpensive, meaningful, and readily available in your daily life. Though they may seem insignificant, these little goals are steps on the way to our loftier visions of self-improvement. And the best part: no expensive gym membership required!

So, take a look!

1. Hold the door for someone. And hand if off with a smile. I'm always surprised by how much this little act of kindness can mean to someone. 

2. Ask a service person about their day. Whether it's your barista, doorman in your office building, or dry cleaner, you'll be delighted to discover how much the people we encounter every day appreciate being acknowledged.  

3. Give someone else that seat on the subway. We all know the eye-contact power games we play on the train to snag that empty seat as soon as it becomes available. What if we didn't? Give yourself an opportunity to feel the warmth and appreciation of a stranger by giving them the seat you want.

4. Pack a healthy snack. This one is my realistic answer to the "start packing lunches" resolution that inevitably fails. Snacks are way easier. Throw a piece of fruit, yogurt, or zip-lock of nuts in your bag, and you'll be prepared to combat the 3pm hunger attack without a pastry.

5. Take the stairs. Similar to #4. Though we'd all love to have time to get to the gym, it's often not feasible. Just take the stairs whenever available, and you'll build some natural exercise into your day. Another good option: hop off the train a stop early and walk that last 8 blocks. 

6. Incorporate drinking water into your day. Pick up one of these cute Swell bottles and you'll actually enjoy carrying it around with you. 

7. Send a condolence note. So many of us struggle with not knowing what to say when a friend experiences a loss, so we don't say anything. Use this helpful New York Times guide for tips on how to finally put your pen to paper and get that card in the mail. It will mean a lot.

8. Call your grandmother. Or your great uncle. If you've got an octogenarian in your life, try giving them a call for a 10-minute hello. Chances are, they'll be thrilled to hear from you, and you'll feel good knowing you made their day brighter.

9. Download an audiobook. Though we'd all love to have more uninterrupted time to curl up with a book, it's not always possible. Instead, use your commute time to just listen to that novel you've been meaning to read, with services like Audible

10. Make an online donation. Though volunteering our time can be incredibly meaningful and rewarding, our busy schedules don't often allow for that. If your New Years' aspiration is to give back to your community or participate politically, consider choosing a cause that is close to your heart and making an online donation. And if you're feeling generous, click that "recur monthly" button. You'll feel good knowing your funds are helping to create the world you want to live in.

What do you think of these goals? Are there other resolutions that you've tried and kept? I'd love to hear about your experience. Drop me a note at hello@renastaubfisher.com.

Wishing you a meaningful 2017, filled with small moments of clarity and connection!