Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Small Resolutions, Big Differences

Haven't made your new years resolution yet? Don't worry, there is still time to take advantage of the New Year and do something good for yourself. Many people I've talked to "don't believe in" New Year's resolutions. They've made big resolutions in the past, burned out early, and ditched the resolution idea all together. What if you did something small instead? Here are my top 10 ideas for manageable, attainable resolutions. Pick one or several and enjoy actually sticking to it!

1.) Take the stairs, everywhere

This resolution is simple to remember. Instead of taking an elevator, take the stairs. Do this everywhere you go, everyday. I swear, when I moved to Midland I lost a few pounds. We live on the 3rd floor, and all my teaching is on the 2nd floor, so everyday, I climb multiple staircases. I traded in my less practical footwear and save it for special occasions, and I try to wear shoes that don't make my daily climb too painful. Taking the stairs is an easy small change, and if you stick with it, think how many calories you'd burn? About 16 per flight of stairs. Over a whole year, that adds up!

2.) Become an Organ Donor

I became an organ donor several years ago. Did you know 18 people die each day waiting for an organ? One organ donor can save up to 8 lives. I know you probably know this is something you "should do," but why don't you take the time to do it today?  I think many people are afraid to make the change because it makes death seem more real to them. Becoming a donor doesn't increase your chance of dying, it just ensures that when you do die, you give someone else the gift of life.

3.) Stop Looking for the Best Parking Spot

Just resolve to park in the first spot you see. If it's far away, just walk. Do this all year and you'll add MILES to your personal pedometer.

4.) Read one book a month

Reading just one book a month can enhance your life so much. Check out a fiction recommendation from the blog, subscribe to a literary journal, or pick up a biography or book of poems.

5.) Have a Phone Date Night

Find a day/time in your week that you dedicate to catching up with people. For me, I have about an hour on Monday nights (which will probably switch to Thursday next semester). Call a different person each week and play catch up. Ask what is going on in their lives, and tell them about yours. The connection you will maintain with old friends is priceless. I have many friends that I frequently "phone date" with, and even though I haven't seen some of them in a few years, I still feel our relationship is very strong. Plus, scheduling a phone date helps you avoid annoying games of phone tag with your friends.

6.) Stop skipping breakfast

Seriously, if you've ever read a health and fitness magazine, you know breakfast is good for you, so stop missing out on it. My favorite easy breakfast options: a yogurt, a piece of fruit like a banana, apple, or pear with a little bit of cheese, a hard boiled egg (or two!), a granola bar, oatmeal, or an instant breakfast shake made with soy milk. Make sure you have lots of options so you can mix it up everyday.

7.) Go Through Your Closet

It will take a few hours one day. Go through your closet and weed out the stuff you don't wear anymore, then take it to Goodwill. (I have two bags at my Mom's house that are ready to go). If something is stained or torn, either fix it or get rid of it, but don't let it take up space. If you want to be really ambitious, go thorough your house and get rid of anything you don't use: old pots and pans, towels, sheets, toys (if you have children), all of these things can be donated.

8.) Stop Paying Full Price

Make 2012 the year of the bargain. Shop at your favorite online stores/mall stores only when there is a sale. Go to thrift stores for clothing and household goods (Brendan and I find all of our DVDs, lots of books, and most of our clothes used. I also love to brag that I bought all my furniture and my car secondhand). Find the cheapest grocery store and start shopping there. Look at the prices when you buy something. Brendan and I buy wine and beer on sale, we look for the best prices on an item before we put it in the cart. It takes a little time, but we want to save money for things that are important to us.

9.) Make a Plan for Paying Off Debt

So often, resolutions focus on what we WANT. What about about that stuff you already have that you still haven't paid for? I've never paid one penny in interest. I get cards with 0% APR, use them for a year, pay them off in full before the interest rate changes, and usually, never touch them again (unless I can pay off what I buy in full). Need help? Use this Debt Reduction Calculator to get started.

10.) Focus Inward

Everyday, I think of myself as a work in progress. I'm not perfect and no one can be, but I try to work on improving. Make a list of what you'd like to improve and strategies for how you'll do it. Things I'm currently working on: accepting conflict with others as an inherent part of all relationships and learning to live with conflict instead of trying to constantly to solve conflict (which is not only unproductive, but exhaustive), being patient (hard!), and coming to a greater understanding of my goals and values and a greater appreciation of my choices. When you can know why you do things and feel secure in those choices, you really don't feel the need to be defensive. Whenever anyone asserts that my choice is different from one they would have made, I feel fine about that. My choices feel right for me, because I make them with awareness!

Hope these resolutions help you see the New Year in a new light!
<3 S, B, L&Z

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