Simplifying New Year’s Resolutions

By Aparna Mele 

With the start of a new year (and new decade!), everyone vows to start making changes in order to live our lives in the best way possible. However, the difficulty is that new year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep because they are often too vague or too monumental. They are often more of an abstract faith in the future. If we do this thing, we tell ourselves, our 2020 selves will be a better reflection of who we want to be, than our 2019 selves. While, in doing this, we acknowledge that change is possible and that we are capable of making it happen, less than half of us won’t hold on to our resolutions through February.

Why make a long list of resolutions that we will unlikely keep?  Instead, try to start small with tiny but effective ways to have a better year and create a better world, like these:

Being more environmentally aware is a phenomenal and easily doable goal that will reduce our carbon footprint and so much more. Make an effort to avoid food waste by cooking more meals from scratch and buying and using less packaging. Recycle food by finding discounted food and make the most of it before it gets thrown away. Many supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants drop their prices of food before the end of the day to reduce waste, but cafés and restaurants have started to do the same. It’s a great way to save money and prevent perfectly good food from being thrown away.

Preserve your mental well-being by carving out 5-10min a day to meditate. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace in times of stress.  During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress, and this enhances your physical and emotional well-being.

Pursuing a new hobby is the perfect way to celebrate new beginnings. Try taking up a hobby that will have you outside in nature or reading more. Spending time doing an enjoyable activity that is not attached to work or other commitments helps to increase happiness and satisfaction with life. It allows you to spend time learning new things and doing something for your own personal benefit, and not the benefit of others. Incorporating a hobby into your life can add excitement and spark to increase personal satisfaction, which then flows over to your work performance and ability to maintain a healthy family and other relationships.

Vegetarianism and veganism are increasing in popularity due to the heightened awareness of the environmental and health impacts of eating too much meat. But if not ready to give up meat altogether, you can vow to avoid eating meat a few days a week; or following a “flexitarian” diet.  Making more of an effort to add vegetables to your diet is good for the world, your health, and your cooking repertoire.

Vow to stop using plastic whenever possible and instead opt for reusable or at least biodegradable. Single use plastics are suffocating our planet and destroying our oceans. Plastic takes centuries to decompose and millions of barrels of oil are needed annually to make plastic. Reusable totes, stainless steel travel coffee mugs, camping utensils, straws, even Tupperware can all be kept in the car for use anytime to replace plastic grocery bags, plastic forks and spoons at away from home events, and take-home containers from restaurants.

Many successful people say, “If you win the morning, you win the day.”  Waking up 30 minutes early gives you breathing time in the morning to clear your head and prepare for the day ahead, rather than rushing out in a hurry to play catch up.  People who wake up tend to eat breakfast, while later risers are often rushing out the door and have to grab something convenient (i.e. unhealthy), or perhaps skip the meal altogether. Starting your day early improves concentration. In addition to being able to focus on goals and task lists, getting up early means that by the time you get to work or school, you’ve had hours to properly acclimate to the day, making you more alert during peak hours as a result.

Whatever resolutions you choose, see if you can do them for 7days. By challenging yourself to complete one thing every day for a week, you will finish that week feeling a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment and it will be a perfect springboard towards instilling a new and productive habit. Focus on something easy that will benefit you and fulfill your needs, while giving you mental satisfaction. In this way a small vow can become a lifelong habit well-integrated into your life.

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