It’s just about that time of year when you start to slack a little bit on your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you aren’t quite going to the gym everyday or maybe you dine out more times than your budget permits. However, we have a practical list of goals that you should stick to and the reasons why…
1. Strengthen Your Financials
From Forbes to USA Today, this is probably the most common advice from editors and with good reason. You can’t build good relationships with broken financials. Debt multiplies and limits goals, so start simple by setting a budget and tracking expenses. In January, prioritize you expenses and examine your more significant costs. Most importantly, be realistic. If you are someone who drinks and dines out frequently then recognize that entertainment is a large component of your expenses. Creating a budget doesn’t necessarily mean changing spending. All it requires is a realistic approach and commitment.
2. Eat Healthier
You don’t have to restrict yourself to a regimented diet or expensive programs, instead set health goals for yourself. To succeed, plan ahead for your weak moments during the day, like afternoon and late-night snacking. Instead of depriving yourself, prepare healthy snacks, like apple slices or hummus and carrots, ahead of time for guilt-free snacking. If you are a dessert person who just cannot live without sugar (like me), just try to avoid binge snacking. Grant it, you can find the majority of these tips in the plentiful articles that flood health magazines this time of year. Yet, the not-so-secret trick is to find your motivation. Decide if you want to improve your skin, reduce that extra holiday weight, or build up muscle. Once you prioritize, it will be easier to pick the right foods.
3. Make a Scrapbook
It does not necessarily have to be an actual book with pictures, clippings, and paper decorations from Michaels. Instead, try and make a valid effort to collect and share photo memories with friends and family. If you go on a memorable trip, a few actual photo print-outs or an iPad album are worth just as much as the stories you share. You will really appreciate your effort in 20 years when Facebook profile pictures and albums are a thing of ancient history.
4. Try New Things
I am just as much to blame as much as the next person for having my “favorites.” I have my selected fave restaurants and a similar group of friends that I go out with on weekends. However, adding some variety to you schedule can be very refreshing. Try to complete one out-of-the-ordinary activity that wouldn’t typically find itself scheduled on your calendar each month. Start simple like going out to a play instead of a movie or try dining at a new fusion restaurant. Then build on the adventure. The goal is to safely expand your comfort zone for a new and improved 2015.
4. Host More Family Dinners
Even if your family doesn’t live near you, host a monthly dinner for friends. Catch up and hear about their lives. Start a new tradition by hosting the inaugural dinner of the year and then switch with friends in the following months. A home-cooked meal is often far more personal than dining out at a trendy restaurant.
If you have kids and often work late, try to be home for their dinner at least one more time a week than last year. It will make a huge impact in their development (see here!) If time is an issue, companies like Dinner A’Fare make it easier by allowing you to prepare multiple healthy meals ahead of time, so you can enjoy more time with your family.
6. Transform Your Wardrobe
This one is especially important and extra simple. Everyone has their basic wardrobe loves. In fact, experts and stylists often say that we only wear about 20% of our wardrobes. Our challenge to you is to turn your basics into fresh looks by added something “new” to the look. However, this doesn’t always mean going to buy something new at the store. Try pairing patterns, adding colored tights to a solid dress, tying a scarf in a new style, or adding a pop of color with a bold pair of shoes. Another challenge that’s particularlly helpful with Charleston’s fickle weather is to figure out how to wear the same clothes during different seasons. A navy maxi dress can be paired with a big knitted sweater and floppy hat for a cozy fall afternoon or paired with a scarf and sparkly, open-toed sandals for a warm summer stroll.
7. Stop Staying No
Like our fourth resolution, be open to new things. Say yes to a date you might not have considered last year. You never know where it may lead.
8. Buy and Shop More Local
In recent years, the buy local movement has gained significant support from small communities across America. However, if you just can’t see the benefit because it’s so much easier and quicker to dash to Harris Teeter, think about the cost benefit to you and your family. Buying fresh local veggies doesn’t just pump money directly into your own community, it keeps money in your own wallet. Because local grocers, like the Veggie Bin here in Charleston, stock their shelves directly from local farmers and skip the expensive middle supplier step, your groceries will be far less expensive. Additionally, local produce is more likely to stay green and fresh longer than processed and packaged produce from a big chain grocer. Read even more about how buying local saves your economy here.
9. Be Generous
Maybe this leads to fostering a shelter animal or helping an elderly neighbor move. Maybe it means listening to a friend who had a rotten day at work. Regardless, this New Year’s resolution is very flexible and open-ended. Just do what feels right.
10. Volunteer More
Make a date out of it–literally. Mix up movie night or the traditional dinner out for a rewarding date at an animal shelter or community garden. Find your interest and approach an organization or nonprofit to learn about volunteer opportunities. Be sure to share your particular skills, like marketing, event planning, or writing to see how you can best serve the organization.
Written By: Kathryn MacGovern