Research suggests that 92% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. Why? Because we treat our resolutions like things we must check off on a list. We focus too much on large, overwhelming goals, rather than trying to adapt small, feasible new mindsets into our ways of life. So rather than demanding of yourself that you lose thirty pounds or reach a certain salary, here are 14 resolutions that you can maintain not only for this year, but for the rest of your life.
1. Find happiness within you, instead of chasing after it.
True contentment comes from being thankful for the life that you have and the special people in it, rather than looking at the world from a perspective of what you still don’t have. There’s always going to be something someone else has that you want; learning to embrace that fact and instead choosing to be grateful for what you do have will change your life and your mindset more than you could have ever expected.
2. Practice being present.
It’s not as kooky as it sounds. There are endless books you can read about it (my favorite being A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle) but the basic idea is that you have a state of consciousness that exists outside of your ego, which allows you to rise above feelings like jealousy and anger and to realize how ultimately simple it is to reach fulfillment.
3. Turn all screens off thirty minutes before bed.
It allows your mind to rest. It allows you to process your day. And it actually leads to better sleep.
4. And stop hitting the snooze button in the morning.
Because science says it’ll make you feel way better if you just wake up with your first alarm.
5. Don’t diet; just start putting better food into your body.
Diets (for the most part) don’t work long-term, because they’re about depriving your body instead of taking care of it. Don’t focus on limiting calories and drinking diet soda and eating things that are fat-free. Instead, start eating the way you want to eat for the rest of your life – put good foods into your body, eat things that make you feel light and happy and contentedly full, and allow yourself to have (balanced) fun. You’ll end up with a sustainable, healthy body that lasts a lifetime – instead of one that is (temporarily) twenty pounds lighter.
6. Walk – for literally five minutes.
It has been proven that even just five minutes of green exercise (activity in the presence of nature) a day can vastly improve your mental health.
7. Rid your life of toxic people.
Part of becoming an adult is learning that you don’t need to surround yourself with people who only add negativity and toxic thinking to your life. If you’re part of any relationship where all the effort, positivity, and love is only coming from your end, walk away. It will be a weight lifted off your shoulders that you didn’t even know you had.
8. Continue your education.
If you want to go back to school, great. If you want to sign up for a class that lets you explore a creative passion, fantastic. But if you don’t have the funds or the schedule for any of that, it doesn’t matter. Try a goal like reading one book a month (if money is an issue, go to your local library or to a used book store). Or take free online classes through programs like Coursera. If you pay attention, there’s always a way to keep learning.
9. Make exercising a way of life.
Walk everywhere when the situation permits it. Always take the stairs. Stretch or do sit-ups when you need to burn off some steam during a Netflix marathon. Find a way to make exercising part of your general existence, rather than just another thing to check off on your daily to-do list.
10. Pay more attention to what’s going on in the world.
If you struggle to keep up with the news like I do, just make simple changes in your life. Set a news site as your browser home page. Follow Twitter accounts or Facebook pages that provide daily updates in your newsfeed. Sign up for theSkimm. Watch The Daily Show or another entertaining program centered around current events. There are a million free, easy ways to stay aware and alert.
It’s easy. It’s everywhere. And it’s a simple way to feel reconnected with the world in the moments where technology is making you feel alone and isolated. Look away from your phone or iPad or computer screen and just watch the world around you for a little while.
12. Let go of your grudges.
Your ego might convince you that holding onto bitterness and resentment feels good, but in actuality, you’re wasting a large portion of your energy holding onto anger towards another person who is not even thinking about you. Let your grudges go to make room in your soul for something that will bring goodness into your life.
13. Be kind to yourself.
By all means, always challenge yourself to go after what you want and to work for your dreams. But that doesn’t mean you need to be cruel to yourself in the process. The balance comes from pushing yourself and setting your standards high, while remembering that you’re human, you’re going to make mistakes, and that it’s more important to be a good person than it is to be a wealthy/successful/powerful one.
14. Do a better job of staying in touch with the people you care about.
You never know how much of a difference you can make in someone’s day (or life) when you call them or text them to let them know you’re thinking of them. No one summed it up better than Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forgetwhat you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”