Read any of my previous posts and you’ll quickly learn: I don’t believe in quick fixes when it comes to health, wellness or happiness. Small steps lead to big changes. Consistency is key. Giving yourself achievable and sustainable goals always sets you up for more success. And remembering to make one good choice, followed by another is what will take you to where you truly want to go.
And that’s why New Year’s resolutions and I have, well, a rocky relationship.
I’m all for anything that inspires people to evaluate their lives and commit to doing better. But because resolutions are made at the stroke of midnight with fireworks and adrenaline for fuel, I worry that they will be abandoned after just a day or two, leaving the person who was so full of excitement in the moment feeling like a failure.
So, I’ve put together this list of seven resolutions that you really can (no, you will!) stick with in 2017 and beyond.
Set one must-do task each morning
This is the single most effective thing I do and it can work for all of your lists, personal and professional. At the start of each day, whether you use a paper planner (like this one), prefer keeping digital lists or a combination of the two, write down one priority. And if you can, get it done first so everything else you accomplish is just a bonus.
Sometimes, my must-do task is “get to inbox zero”, so that I have no more emails awaiting my attention. Other times, my must-do task is something like “make a dentist appointment” or “order more coffee”. These items don’t have to be big or particularly important: they just have to be intentional and they must get done.
I promise, you’ll feel more organized, more successful – and even on your worst days, you’ll have at least one thing crossed off your list!
Drink more water
I’m not saying drink eight cups or a gallon or some arbitrary number: just drink more than you currently do. I find that the best way to achieve this is to fill my water bottle with lots of ice and some water right before bedtime, and as soon as I wake up (yes, before coffee!) drink as much of it as I can.
It helps wake my system up, quenches my parched throat and immediately helps me keep my resolution. Then, I refill the bottle and keep it with me. If it’s nearby, I’m much more likely to sip from it than if I have to get up and go fill it later in the day.
Perform one random act of kindness each month
Please notice that I didn’t say anything about spending money. Your random act of kindness could be as simple as writing a note to a co-worker or your boss to say thanks for help on a project (I love these colorful Post-it notes and they’re so handy to keep right on your desk). It could be bringing in some fresh flowers from your garden and leaving them on your assistant’s desk.
Or if you do have a few dollars to spend, why not pay for the coffee for the person standing behind you in line, or donate to your favorite charity? When you practice kindness, it not only helps the recipient, but it makes you feel great as well.
Stand (more) at your desk
Before I had an official standing desk, I used to stack my laptop on some empty boxes and crates to raise it so I could stand and work. If my feet got tired or I just needed a break, I’d move the boxes aside and sit for awhile.
Breaking the sitting habit can have hugely positive effects on your fitness level, your energy, your posture and more.
Add $100 to savings each month
$100 a month for 12 months is a whopping $1,200. That’s a huge amount of savings, especially if you can keep it up not just for 2017, but beyond.
So, make it easy on yourself and set it up as an automatic deduction, if possible. Your bank likely has the option to set up a recurring transfer (or, even better: add $100 a month to your workplace savings account).
I know that budgets are tight and maybe $100 is a stretch. But make it your goal, and start with $10 a month. Every single saved dollar counts and eventually adds up to a future where you’re more financially sound. That, in turn, can help you pursue a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Side note: I have two young girls and in order to help them learn the value of savings early, they have adorable piggy banks that they dump loose change into or money they earn through chores. It’s not a bad way for you to start, though maybe with a more grown-up cash bank!
Spend less time on social media
Listen, I love online communities – and maybe spending time on social media is part of your job – but we could all stand to go on a bit of a social diet. I encourage you to start by setting limits on when you log on. Check social media only between 9 and 5, or if it isn’t part of your work, only check your feeds once before and after work.
Social media is great and terrible at the same time and for the same reasons: it’s free to use and there are almost no barriers. It’s easy to get caught up in drama or the comparison trap of looking at what may appear to be the perfect lives of others. Remember your real-life relationships and try to commit some of your online time to them instead.
Tell yourself “you’re awesome” once a day
Seriously: look in the mirror and say those words. “You’re awesome.” Nobody has to see or hear you do it. You can laugh at yourself. You can roll your eyes. But saying it, and hearing it, is incredibly powerful. If you can’t bring yourself to say it aloud, try writing yourself a little love note and sticking it on your computer screen or on your car dash, so you see it and remember how true it is.
If you forget your resolution or falter for a day (or longer!), please don’t give up: just start all over again. Every single day is another opportunity to say that from this one forward, I am going to give it my all because I deserve to be happy and healthy.
I believe in you! Let us know what your resolution is for 2017 and how you plan on sticking to it in comments. Don’t forget to follow Café Quill on social media to join in on the conversation either!