Every year, I enjoy reading people’s list of New Year’s resolutions that they’ll inevitably break. There are some common themes, such as a desire to lose weight, drink less, and finally reach 100,000 followers on Instagram — all wrought by Western society’s deepening obsession with appearances. Toss in a few vague statements about being healthier and “living my best life” and you’ve got a list of things that will never happen.
Resolutions are basically goals, and so to be attainable, they should be specific and motivational rather than pie-in-the-sky. Think of your resolutions as stepping stones to the life you want, rather than expecting yourself to achieve your dreams in a single year.
Don’t make resolutions that involve drastic transformations or expensive pursuits. You’re much more likely to improve your life by setting several manageable goals that can be the foundation for future years’ resolutions (assuming we all survive climate change).
Here are basic, attainable resolutions that everyone should use as a foundation for future success:
Break your phone addiction
Whatever your social media poison of choice, or if you just can’t stop checking your work email, our smartphones are both the source and enabler for our addiction. They provide a dopamine boost with their little notification bubbles alerting us to potential validation, and they’re our go-to device for checking the weather, navigating to our destination, and other essential tasks that are surrounded by a cloud of distractions.
Your phone is a source of funny memes, texts from your loved ones, and your exercise app’s motivational phrases, but it also brings you low balance alerts, negative comments on your articles, and Trump’s latest tweet. Constantly feeling tethered to such an emotional rollercoaster isn’t healthy for anyone.
In 2020, make it a New Year’s resolution to check your phone less. Turn off notifications and establish times of day when you do not touch or look at your phone. Disable or uninstall any apps you don’t regularly use, and break your mindless scrolling habit by establishing strict app use limits. (You can configure these in the Settings app of your phone.)
Drink water daily
While it’s a myth that you have to drink eight full glasses of water a day (you usually get enough water from your food), it’s still a good idea to incorporate water into your daily rituals. For one thing, it’s good for you. Second, it can help reduce your consumption of high-calorie drinks such as juice, soda, or beer. Third, it’s an easy self-care ritual that can help clear your skin and improve your digestion. And who doesn’t want that?
Make it a 2020 resolution to drink water every day. Keep a glass of water by your computer as you work, and make it a rule to drink water with every meal. If water bores you, add a sugar-free flavor boost or infuse it with fresh fruit or herbs.
Get your money under control
A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions that surround money, whether by setting travel goals, planning to make a big purchase, or simply hoping to get rich. Although there are very real socioeconomic factors that may affect your money situation, everyone, no matter how broke, can take some simple steps to improve their financial situation.
It’s true that small-scale saving, budgeting, and investing don’t offer a panacea for problems that are better resolved by a living wage, wage equity, or the resurgence of full-time jobs with benefits rather than gigs. Still, you can take at least some control of your financial situation.
Make it a 2020 resolution to cut down on frivolous spending and save or invest that pocket change. Apps like Acorns and Stash make it easy, and you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up when you sock even a few dollars a week. If you have debt, make a plan to pay it down. Most people’s debt exceeds what can be eliminated in a single year, so set a reasonable goal (e.g. “reduce my debt by 30%”) and a plan of action to get there. And if you’re in good financial shape, consider investing or saving more money. You really can’t have too large of a safety cushion, and it’s never too late to start investing in stocks and bonds.
Cut out toxic people
It’s unfortunately common for good people to encourage other good people to “take the high road,” “give the benefit of the doubt,” and just generally put up with bad behavior in the name of being “nice.” When you dump someone from your life, there’s inevitably someone who scolds you for not being patient/forgiving/accommodating with the person who was misbehaving — as though you’re responsible for other people’s behavior.
This attitude is what allows toxic people to continue treating you as a doormat. We feel like we have to give much more to people who only take, or else we’re not “good.” Remember, self-care is not “selfish.” If someone is constantly making you miserable, there’s no shame in letting them go.
In 2020, make it a New Year’s resolution to cut off toxic people. Most people with a modicum of emotional intelligence can tell the difference between “misunderstandings” and abuse. If someone is treating you badly, call them out. If they don’t modify their behavior, cut them off. You’ll be much happier.
Reflect and plan daily
In an age when to-do apps and habit trackers are rampant, it’s easy to create the illusion of being organized and productive. However, there’s a key part missing from many people’s routines: time spent to reflect and plan. At the end of the day, you might feel satisfied that you completed all your habits or checked off all your tasks. But what’s next?
To actually achieve your goals and feel greater contentment in your life, it’s crucial to sit down and think about your next steps. Reflect on what you achieved and what you’re grateful for, and sketch out what you envision for your future.
Make it a 2020 resolution to create a gratitude log, goal planner, or mind map to help you move beyond the daily to-do list. A bullet journal is a great way to have all these tools in one place, but if you’re not into that, simply set aside time to plan and reflect. You’ll feel less busy and more creative.
By making these basic resolutions, you can set yourself up for success in your other goals. You can also link these resolutions to others. If you really want to get fit this year, make daily workouts your goal — and keep your water bottle on hand! If you want to start a business, build in that time to plan and reflect so that you’re fully prepared to bring your idea to fruition. Ultimately, it comes down to self-care. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty glass — so make sure that you’re not draining yourself with unattainable resolutions.
What I Learned From My First Month of Bullet Journaling
And how forced gratitude gave way to acceptance
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