Has it really been one week since New Year’s already?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably made a few goals for the new year. And if you’re also like me, you may have already given up on one or two of those resolutions.
Don’t worry – making (and breaking) habits is tough stuff. With a little persistence and determination, you can try again and again until you see noticeable improvements.
On the other hand, some goals just aren’t worth the heartache. You have my permission to toss the following goals in the trash, or hit the backspace button on your life.
1. Lose 10 Pounds
I’ve made this goal year after year, and it’s never as easy as it sounds in my head. I envision myself eating nothing but fruits and vegetables and slimming down to fit into my high school jeans again.
However, I’ve since learned that the number on the scale doesn’t necessarily reflect my overall health or even my appearance. Rather, it tells me whether I drank too much water the day before or whether my dinner weighed two pounds.
If you really want to make an improvement this year, make a goal to include an extra serving of veggies with your most of your meals or aim for 3 to 4 moderate workout sessions a week. These smaller goals not only help you feel better but they just might help you lose those last few pounds.
2. Work Out Every Day
No doubt about it: a little exercise goes a long way. When I exercise regularly, I feel more awake and energetic. I crave chocolate just a little bit less, and my clothes sit comfortably on my body.
But I’ve discovered that full-blown workout sessions every day is overkill. After one session, my muscles feel tight and achy. After two sessions in a row, my arms and legs feel weak and sore. After three back-to-back sessions, I’m ready to call it quits and sit on the couch for the rest of my life.
Some exercise is good. But expecting yourself to do the same full-body workout day in and day out without a sick day sets yourself up for failure. Once you miss a day, you may feel like you’ve ruined your goals completely, so you might as well not try again.
For better results, I suggest that you shoot for time per week instead of sessions per day. For example, you may want exercise 150 minutes of activity per week, which averages about 21 minutes per day. But if you were to miss a day because your parents stopped for a visit, you could bump up your time for the following day to make up for it.
3. Stress Less
On the surface, I may look calm and collected. Underneath, I tend to be a tangled knot of anxiety and stress. I regularly feel anxious about social activities and frequently imagine the horrific deaths of my friends, family, and loved ones.
Naturally, I’d want to dispel these unpleasant feelings and resolve to feel nothing but peace and relaxation the rest of the year.
But how could I possibly measure “less” stress? This is such a vague goal that I’d have no way of knowing whether I succeeded or failed. I could sit comfortably in a hammock on a beautiful white sandy beach and not know whether I’m stressing less that day than I did the day before.
If you want to follow my example this year, I suggest making more quantifiable goals that would help you keep stress levels in check. Some possible goals could include signing up for a yoga class, participating in online guided meditation, taking a long hot bath every week, or visiting a therapist once a month.
4. Earn More Money
As a freelance blogger, I earn just enough to survive. I pay my bills, cover my rent, buy my groceries, and (if I’m lucky) buy the occasional gift for my husband.
Of course, I’d love to have a lot more money available. I’d love to have the cash to buy a new house, expand my movie and book collection, and go on vacation. Yet in this economy, the only way I’d earn enough money to do these extra things would be to either find a new job or raise my rates.
Based on the news reports I’ve seen, finding a new job takes an average of 6 months to 2 years. So I’m not likely to earn more money that way anytime soon. And since my primary client sets the rates, I can’t raise my rates without losing my main source of income.
You may be in a similar boat. So rather than making total income a main goal this year, why not make a goal use what you do have a little more responsibly?
Start with setting a budget that covers unchangeable costs, such as rent and insurance. Assess what areas could use some improvement, such as eating out less or buying fewer clothes. Then set a specific amount to save every week. You could save as little as $10 or as much as $100 (or more), depending on your budget.
5. Cut Out Sugar
Many of my friends have attempted this goal with varying degrees of success. Sometimes they last a few days, other times they last a few months before they give up and nibble on a cookie or a piece of chocolate.
Before you feel guilty about sugar, you should remember that this carbohydrate does play a key role in overall health. Sugars provide the body with a fast source of energy. In moderation, sugar boosts performance, and when combined with protein, sugar expedites recovery after a workout.
Furthermore, sugar is found just about everywhere. Even fruits and vegetables have sugars. So saying goodbye to all sugar in your diet isn’t completely realistic.
But our society as a whole does consume excessive amounts of refined sugars, which can negatively impact your health. If you want to make a healthier goal this year, limit your refined sugar intake (from pastries and sweets) rather than entirely cut out unrefined sugars (from fruits and veggies).
Enjoy the Rest of Your Year
Now that those old goals are in the trash, don’t you feel just a tiny bit better? Enjoy your new-found freedom and make the most of this year!