It’s easy to come up with New Year’s Resolutions but sticking with them is another story. I know, you’ve heard it before, but you have to have a plan. I think the most important element in achieving your resolutions is to remove the barriers for each goal along with ways to keep you moving forward.
So you want to exercise more? Remove barriers (excuses) by making sure you have comfortable workout clothes and shoes. Make sure that your plan of being at the gym at 5:30 am is achievable by going to bed earlier the night before. If you are not a morning person, join a gym close to work for lunch break work outs or work outs immediately after work. Keep a gym bag ready at all times either in your home or car. Make the gym bag complete with shoes, socks, and a bathing suit if needed. If you hate exercising alone, rally up friends or neighbors that you can rely on to exercise with you. If you need to, post on your neighborhood website that you are looking to form a walking/running group. Plus if you Google your favorite activity and your city, there are bound to be groups that pop up for all ability levels!
So you want to eat healthier? Keep your fridge stocked of healthy snacks and recipes. Notice I said recipes! Some people go grocery shopping and then get home and say “We have nothing to eat”. Plan out your healthy meals and make your grocery list based on actual recipes. It really helps to have almost all of your meat cooked on Sunday for the week. Use the meat for salads, sandwiches, soups or other recipes throughout the week. Want more veggies in your life? Think of what you like at your favorite restaurant salad bar and go buy it! Keep a drawer in your fridge stocked with your own “salad bar”! Another trick is to take a healthy snack or two and always keep it in your car. Keep trail mix or almonds in your car at all times. This can really come in handy when you are stuck in the car and are tempted by fast food. Now we all know that eating healthier is difficult when you are constantly invited out to eat for socializing. Why not suggest that instead of “meet and eat”, you “meet and hike” or “meet and walk”. Or you might suggest that you would like to meet for coffee instead. If that isn’t an option, go to your favorite restaurant for the fun atmosphere it provides, but just go ahead and ask for a box when you order your meal so you can bring the other half home or just split the dish with your friend! It’s hard to resist eating the entire huge plate of pasta in front of you but if you’ve immediately put half of it in a box, it’s out of sight and out of mind! Plus, you have lunch for the next day.
So you want to pay off debt? If getting a higher paying job is not an option, consider finding ways to cut your expenses. Do you really need cable or dish for television? There are a plethora of lower cost options for your viewing pleasure. If you have internet, you can stream Netflix, or Hulu Plus through most gaming devices. Plus, the major networks, ABC, NBC , etc have most of their shows available to watch right on their websites. Or just get an antenna and HDTV tuner and start watching shows immediately. Of course, if your TV isn’t HD ready, you will need an HD converter box as well. These are just some examples of ways to trim expenses on services you do not want to sacrifice. The same principle applies to phone service and internet as well. But do the credit card bills keep creeping back up? One of my favorite tips from trusted consumer advisor, Clark Howard, is to take your credit card, put it in a zip lock bag along with water and put it in your freezer so that you won’t use it. Or if you are really serious and want to make big changes, you can downsize your living space. I mean really downsize. For example, check out www.tumbleweedhouses.com, which will give you information on the living spaces and building plans. To learn more you can also check out www.tinyhouseblog.com to see how it can transform not only your wallet but your life in a positive way. Top Atlanta Real Estate guru Rhonda Duffy of Duffy Realty of Atlanta is quoted in a recent article on LinkedIn saying “This Atlanta real estate trend favoring smaller living is epitomized in the Tiny House Movement sweeping across the nation. http://ow.ly/s2HG8 “. So clearly opening your mind to new possibilities is a path to paying off debt.
So those are some ways to remove the barriers from some common new year’s resolutions. Keeping yourself going until you reach the goal will take work. Keeping track of your progress with a planner, a journal or a buddy is instrumental in moving forward. Also, if you make a mistake, forgive yourself. If you make a mistake on Friday, you don’t have to wait until Monday to “get back on track”. Instead, reinforce your healthy habit instead of falling into the trap of guilty feelings and old habits that just do not serve you well. Another way to keep yourself moving toward your goals is to reward yourself along the way. Maybe buy yourself a piece of workout clothing if you consistently stick with your exercise routine or treat yourself to a quiet evening with a relaxing book and bath. Having a very nice reward at the end of reaching a goal is a real motivator. It could be anything from a new bathing suit to a weekend getaway to a spa mani/pedi but make it something you really crave so you will continually strive to reach your goal.
If you have no excuses, a way to track your progress, plus rewards along the way, you will give your mind the space it needs to open to new possibilities and change will happen. Cheers to keeping those resolutions!