It’s already that time of the year (what, where did the time go?!)
People are busy manically preparing for the festivities, glumly reflecting on the past year and those failed resolutions - lost opportunities, or hopefully, making a new set of resolutions.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology shows 54% of people who made new-year resolutions were unsuccessful.
If you’re thinking it’s better to boycott resolutions all together this time around, keep reading.
The study also mentioned that 96% of non-resolvers (people who did not make a New Year’s resolution) were unsuccessful in achieving their goals.
Far worse, isn’t it?
Worry not. Here are a few certain tricks to make sure you follow the five below-mentioned resolutions. Any of these resolutions will significantly improve your well-being, productivity, and happiness.
Credit: Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash
1. Incorporate healthy habits
Staying fit and healthy reduces your risk of becoming sick, strengthens your body and immune system and also increases productivity and brain function.
In a study conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it was found that running for 15 minutes a day or just an hour walk reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
Apart from these benefits, exercising also helps in sleeping better, building stronger resilience, memory and self-esteem.
The reason many people give up on this resolution is;
(i) They start with drastic steps (restricting calories or performing high-intensity workouts), and as a result, they get burnt out quickly.
(ii) They follow methods that they dislike. For example, I didn’t have any trouble exercising once I reached the gym. But I absolutely hated my trip to get to the gym.
To avoid these situations, try the following:
- Set a specific and measurable goal. For example, lose 2 pounds in a month. Keep the goal achievable so that once you reach it and see progress, you’ll want to continue.
- Schedule a specific time for exercising every day in your calendar and stick to it.
- Don’t see exercise as a punishment. Turn it into a hobby. For example, if dancing is your thing, bust a move in a Zumba class.
- If you skip a session top up with incidental exercise, take the staircase instead of the elevator or park your car further away from work to incorporate more walking.
- Build up gradually. If you start lifting weights and over-stress your body, you’d end up taking a break from it altogether. Inevitably, you are unlikely to come back after the motivation fades. The same goes for cutting junk food and eating healthy meals. For example, you could start by eating healthy meals four times a week, and once you reach that figure, reward yourself with a treat.
- Lastly, hand $20 to a friend or family member and tell them they can only return it once you have exercised that day.
2. Schedule time away from work (and do something you love)
A lot of us identify our success through our jobs. When we succeed at work, we feel good. When something goes downhill, we feel doomed.
That’s one of the reasons many of us are overworking. Even when we reach home, we open our laptops to finish something off or worse, end up working late into the night.
Overworking and not taking time to look after our health adds up, and before we know it, we face the risk of cardiovascular disease, fatigue, stress and poor health.
That’s why it’s essential to schedule time away from work every day. It helps to de-stress and prevent burnout and boost creativity and productivity.
Start by listing the things you’d like to do in your ‘me’ time and schedule a time each day. Be it for a passion project, a hobby, spending time with your family or cooking.
For example, at 6 in the evening, I sit down to write a poem. When I don’t feel like writing, I either go out for a walk, chit chat with my mother, make origami or paint.
3. Learn something new every day
There are a lot of advantages to daily learning:
- It helps diversify knowledge and inspires ideas by connecting seemingly unrelated things.
- Your learning process becomes faster as you keep learning new things.
- You’ll be able to talk about and relate to different things and as a result, make new friends and broaden your perspective.
- Decision-making skills start improving with more knowledge.
- As dopamine is closely linked to the learning process, learning new things makes us feel happy, according to research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
More importantly, this resolution doesn’t take much of your time. You can spend a minimum of five minutes getting it done on your busy days.
For example, I wish to learn digital marketing to help diversify my skills. I allow 30 minutes a day for this. As I use focus booster, when I have too much work, I use my breaks in between pomodoro sessions to get this done.
To follow through with this resolution, list out all the new things you’d like to learn the following year. It could be anything (baking, Excel functions, knowledge related to your field) but make sure you write it down.
Then, make a journal or an Excel sheet where you can note down briefly the new things that you learn every day.
Before you know it, the little time that you spend every day can result in massive changes. For example, as a content writer, you spend some time every day learning about graphic designing and digital marketing, think about how that would make you stand out from others in the field in just a year.
Credit: Infographic by Arun on Learnnovators.com
4. Practice gratitude
Just a week back, I had an awful day. At night, when I was returning home from my walk, I witnessed an accident happening in front of my eyes. The driver died on the spot and the person sitting on the bike behind him; probably his wife had survived.
She couldn’t believe what had happened. That’s when I realised how little my problems were. Since then, I have been practising gratitude daily by noting down five good things that happened to me. It helps me end the day by focusing on the positives instead of the negatives.
A study conducted by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons shows that people who practice gratitude consistently have higher levels of positive emotions, stronger immune systems, longer sleep, more joy and pleasure and feel less lonely and isolated.
Below are some ways to get started:
- Whenever you come across a difficult situation, ask yourself ‘What is this going to teach me?’ instead of whining about it.
- Keep a gratitude journal. This article by Shutterfly shows how you can start with one.
- Appreciate people more. For example, if you come across an Instagram post that you love, don’t shy away from commenting or messaging the person about how this post resonated with you. Thank your mother when she cooks food for you or the cab driver who drops you to work.
- Avoid negative media and content.
- Keep track of how much you complain in a day and try to lower that number.
- Try to help people see the positive side of things.
- Post positive quotes above your work desk or around your home.
- Start volunteering.
- Spend time with your family and loved ones.
Keep adding to this list and set a reminder on your phone that prompts you to complete at least one of these things every day.
5. Smile often
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” - Mother Teresa
When we smile, whether unknowingly or forcefully, it triggers the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.
It gives a signal to our brain that we must be happy about something, and it starts to make us feel more satisfied.
Not only that, there are many other benefits to smiling - it helps boost our immune systems, makes us appear friendly and approachable, relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and makes us seem more confident and successful.
In fact, a Japanese study concluded that political candidates that smile more get more votes.
But, the best part is yet to come...
Smiles are contagious!
Credit: Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash
According to a study conducted in Sweden, people unconsciously mimic facial expressions when they are exposed to them.
Who knew that, just by smiling, you could make others feel happy too?
Isn’t that a resolution we should all pick up this new year?
We all slip up at times. The same can happen with your new-year resolutions. When you do, you must be kind to yourself. Instead of saying “I can’t follow through with anything”, say “I made a bad decision, but what’s my learning opportunity here? How can I get back on track?”
By asking questions like this, you push your brain to think about solutions instead of getting stuck on the problem.
It’s never too late (or too early) to get started. And that’s the beauty of these five “doable” resolutions, and you can start them any time of the year.
What simple resolutions are you picking up for the new year? Tweet us and let us know!