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Top ten new year's resolutions that you can actually keep

By JP Helk,
Two women jog through English Garden in Munich, Germany, 17 January 2011. Photo:Marc Mueller

With the new year right around the corner, the age-old question looms…what New Year’s resolutions should be made? And more importantly, how long will they actually be kept? Here’s a list of ten resolutions, some common and some uncommon, and some ways to make sure they actually survive most if not all of 2012.



10. Save more money
In the hard economic times a little extra money can go a long way. Saving money requires two things – planning and willpower. Figure out how much money each month doesn’t go to necessities, and then take a portion of that, could be five dollars, could be 50 dollars, could be anything you can manage, and put that in a savings account. Not one tied to any credit cards or debit cards, not one you’ll be dipping into so you can buy those new shoes, but one that will just sit there and gather interest. Put in a little bit each month, and have the willpower to not touch it. It might not end up being thousands of dollars, but it’ll be something for a rainy day. Another helpful tip is to not work against yourself. You may think you’re saving money by just paying the minimum on your monthly bills. In reality, you’re allowing interest to build up and cost you more in the long run. Pay as much as you can on the principal, especially with credit card bills.

9. Lose some weight
Weight loss is probably the most common resolution in history. Shedding anywhere from a couple pounds to a hundred pounds has frustrated people for years. Weight loss for most people doesn’t have to be fast, and doesn’t have to be a lot. If you just want to drop a couple pounds and get in better shape, it’s actually pretty simple with a little patience and a little extra effort. Calorie counting has been a popular method, but calories are only the beginning. There are websites like caloriecount.com allow you to keep track of your total nutrition for the day, and many even offer advice for how to improve your diet. Combining smart eating with a little extra exercise can go a long way. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Take a walk around the block after dinner. Just little things that don’t take very long will add up to help burn calories.

8. Quit smoking
Easily one of the hardest resolutions to keep is quitting smoking. You’re fighting an addiction, which is never easy. Luckily, in today’s world there are literally thousands of methods and resources that one can use in order to kick the habit once and for all. There are medications such as Chantix that your doctor can prescribe for you, there are patches, gums, strips, you name it, and then there are online resources. smokefree.gov is the government resource many people use to help them quit, and it includes links to other quitting resources, connections to experts, anything one could possibly want to help them out. The best thing a person can do when trying to quit is give themselves good reasons, and give themselves good support.

7. Read more books
While it might not be a common resolution, it is one that can help a lot. Reading is beneficial for anyone of any age. It might be hard to find time in a busy schedule for reading, but not as hard as one might think. Anyone with a commute involving public transit has a nice block of time right there. Trains and buses offer a lot of time where there’s not much else to be done. And if you’ve been taking that particular commute for a while, it shouldn’t be too difficult to time things out so that you don’t miss your stop. Another way to keep this resolution is to make sure you don’t over-commit. Start small, tell yourself you’ll read one chapter a day to start. Whether that chapter happens on a train, before bed, or on your lunch break, giving yourself a little time to read and escape will do you good.

6. Go green
This one is probably rising in popularity and for good reason. Going green not only helps the earth, it also can save you some money. Many supermarkets are cutting a couple cents off of your total if you have a re-usable bag. Give it a couple trips and that starts to add up. Re-usable bags are a great way to start, as are re-usable water bottles. Some water faucet filters or filter pitchers come with a re-usable bottle, so kill two birds with one stone and start saving money on those cases of water. Other things you can do include creating a compost heap, recycling if you don’t already, and buying things that come in re-usable or recyclable containers as opposed to things like Styrofoam.

5. Stay informed
In this era of immediate information it’s surprising how few people actually watch the news and make the effort to stay informed. Especially in an election year, making sure you have all the facts is very important. There are three keys to staying properly in the know. First, watch the news. Second, watch more than one news outlet. Third, watch unbiased news outlets, or at least watch a little bit from every angle. The first one is simple. Instead of watching a sitcom or so, just turn on the news for a half hour or so. You can find online news sites and surf them on your lunch break. Read a newspaper over breakfast in the morning. There is a multitude of different ways but the point is the same – get your information. The second is also easy. Just make sure that you don’t only utilize one source for your news. The more sources you get your information from, the more complete a picture you will get or the truth. The last one fits right into that philosophy. With partisanship at a fever pitch, watching any biased news networks will give you a skewed and incomplete view of the truth. If you watch a network that leans right, also watch something that leans left. Find as many sources as you can from as many viewpoints as you can, and make informed choices based on all the information you take in.

4. Eat less fast food
Fast food is unhealthy. There is absolutely no getting around this fact. It’s not going to kill you if you eat it on occasion, but every day is a bit much. Still, so many of us do so because it’s so quick and convenient. But it could be a very beneficial resolution to find ways to get the quick meal without the grease. For quick meals on the go it’s a lot healthier to pack something small at the beginning of the day. Healthy snack bars can be found almost anywhere that sells snacks, and can do a lot to keep an appetite at bay. Salads may not sound filling, but if you pack them full of things like nuts, beans, olives, carrots, cheese, you name it, they can end up being a very satisfying and very healthy alternative to a microwave meal or fast food. Bags full of vegetables in a desk drawer can help you get through the day as well. Taking a little time in the morning to prepare some food for the day ahead can save you money at the fast food place and at the doctor’s office.

3. Manage stress
Stress is something we all deal with, and something none of us deal with perfectly. There’s not one of us that wouldn’t like to feel less stressed. The question is, how? The fact is, there’s no set way to manage stress; it’s something everybody has to deal with in their own way. But here are some tips to help. Cardio exercise is a good way to relieve stress and help you feel healthier. Instead of sitting on a couch watching television at the end of the day, try riding a stationary bike while you watch. Maybe sign up for a basic gym membership. Exercise will help you feel all around better. Another great way to deal with stress is self-expression. You can choose to write, draw, even dance if you so desire. It doesn’t have to be good; it just has to let you free the thoughts and worries that have been building up. Finding someone to whom you can talk is one of the best ways to help. Don’t be afraid to let yourself confide in someone.

2. Managing debt
Debt is one of the single most powerful words as far as sending negative feelings through whoever hears it. It cripples some, sends fear through the hearts of others. But debt hurts everyone at some time or another. Managing debt is something most people would like to be able to do, but few are successful with. There are many debt management services available online and over the phone, but anyone looking to use them should do research to find out which ones are reliable and trustworthy. Paying bills on time and paying as much on the principal as possible is a good way to slowly reduce your debt. There’s no quick and easy way, but with some resolve it’s possible to clear some of your debt. The important thing is to not get overwhelmed, and attack it head on.

1. Be charitable
This one is easy. Charity has a plethora of benefits, including tax deductions, a sense of pride, and of course the fact that you have just made someone else’s life better. There are literally millions of charities, and a myriad of ways to be charitable. The trick is making charity more than just signing a check every month. Eventually, you’ll stop signing those checks and forget about it. Find something you can get emotionally involved in. Like animals? Look into wildlife conservation groups. Have a soft spot for kids? There are plenty in other countries that could use some support. Find something you can get involved in and stick with it. If it means something to you, then your work for the charity will be that much more rewarding.

Whatever you resolve to do, stick with it, and make 2012 a year to remember. Happy New Year.

 

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