Every year, we spend almost as much time making fun of cliche New Year's resolutions as we do trying to think of clever, new resolutions that we'll actually be able to keep. And every year, we always end up making at least one typical resolution that everyone else makes, too. It never fails, and it will probably never change. They're a cliche for a reason!
So if everyone is making these resolutions, why are so few people actually keeping them? Here’s the problem with most of the resolutions people make: they aim too high. People like you and me make these resolutions with big plans in mind to change so many things and do everything differently. While this may work for the first week or two of the new year when we’re still on that “fresh start” high, it won’t work in the long-term.
If you want to have any chance of keeping your resolution no matter how cliche it may be, read on. After all, there’s nothing wrong with promising to exercise more in the new year or swearing you’ll start getting more sleep — there’s only something wrong with not following through. Here are 12 cliche New Year’s resolutions everyone makes, along with tips on how to actually accomplish them.
1. Exercise every day no matter what
What You Actually Do: Have a week or two where you spend an hour and a half at the gym every day, then remember why you didn’t exercise before — you have no time! And pain!
What You Should Do: Put aside 20 minutes three or four days of the week to exercise. Studies have shown that you really only need 30 minutes to get a full workout in, so start small and work your way up to 30 as you learn to manage your time.
2. Eat healthy and clean all the time
What You Actually Do: Spend a week or so eating the healthiest foods ever, depriving yourself of all the good stuff, then get stressed and binge on potato chips and ice cream, realize you messed everything up, and figure you might as well wait until next month to start over.
What You Should Do: Focus on one thing at a time. Start with portion control — make your meals smaller, and try eating six small meals a day rather than three large ones. Cut out sugar when you don’t need it and pay attention to calories, but don’t make your life revolve around them. Let yourself indulge once a week, or when you go out with friends once in a while to give into a craving.
3. Stop procrastinating and get shit done
What You Actually Do: Realize you procrastinated before because things are hard, and rationalize that it’s just part of your personality. Whatever, can you live?
What You Should Do: Make a set schedule for when you have to get things done so that you’re more organized and have something to follow. Promise yourself a treat when you’re done to motivate yourself.
4. Wake up earlier to get to work or class a few minutes early or on time
What You Actually Do: Manage to get up an hour early the first three days and then remember why you love the snooze button — your bed is amazing.
What You Should Do: Spend one week waking up five minutes earlier than normal. The next week, wake up 10 minutes earlier. The next week wake up 15 minutes earlier, and so on until you reach the time you want. You can even spend two weeks doing each time interval if you’d like. Just take it slow!
5. Save a lot of money, and stop spending all of it on useless clothes and accessories
What You Actually Do: Put aside your first few paychecks and stop shopping completely, then find one sweater you like and go crazy, and realize you just spent EVERYTHING.
What You Should Do: Take a long, hard look at your finances, and think about what is reasonable for you to put away each week. Make sure you leave yourself enough money for food, occasionally going out, bills, and a little extra spending cash. Decide what is right for you: for some people it’s $5, for others it may be $20. Whatever the amount is, put it away in a box or jar at the end of each week. Putting away small amounts of money is much less daunting than taking $500 out of your paycheck.
6. Give up your worst habit for good
What You Actually Do: Try, fail, make excuses for yourself. Next year?
What You Should Do: Find a support group that will help you, and put a lot of effort into making this work. Talk to people and lean on others for advice and encouragement when you feel weak. Realize that you will mess up a few times, but that’s OK. Giving up a bad habit isn’t supposed to be easy.
7. Keep things clean and organized at all times
What You Actually Do: Clean up your room or desk once, then have one day where you need to find something, and make a huge mess looking for it.
What You Should Do: Set aside one day during the week that you devote at least an hour to cleaning whatever you want to keep organized. This will eventually keep you from getting too messy during the week, but it will also allow you some leeway. Also, if you’re trying to keep your life organized, buy a planner and write everything down!
8. Read more books — one new book a month
What You Actually Do: Read a few new books, then remember you have Netflix.
What You Should Do: Make a list of books you want to read, and take your time going through them. Set aside an hour or so to read on the nights you’re the least busy. Don’t rush through books to try to accomplish something. Remember to enjoy them!
9. Get more sleep
What You Actually Do: Spend a few nights laying in bed trying to sleep, then give up. You can sleep when you’re dead, right?
What You Should Do: At least get in bed a little bit earlier than normal so that your body and mind can relax. If you can’t sleep, just let yourself calm down.
10. Cut off contact with that one toxic person in your life
What You Actually Do: Feel guilty and/or sad about doing that, and convince yourself you need them.
What You Should Do: Slowly cut all ties with this person in whatever way works for you, and realize that it’s OK if it takes months to get it done.
11. Do something new and different every day
What You Actually Do: Forget. Every single day. Who has the time to do this?!
What You Should Do: Vow to do something new and different once a month, and realize it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as simple as going to see a movie by yourself if you’ve never done that before, or taking a road trip an hour away.
12. Spend more time with family
What You Actually Do: Hang out with your family once, get in a fight with everyone, and remind yourself why that was an impossible resolution.
What You Should Do: Hang out with your damn family. Even if they annoy you, they’re still important!
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