This post is also available in: Magyar
New year resolutions are tricky! Most of us make some around the end of the year every year on high hopes, and then forget about them totally by the end of March. Or January. Some of us don’t even try.
There was a study on the topic showing that only 12% of people keep their new year’s resolutions. What a sad little number. But it is also comforting, right? You are not alone with this problem!
But why do we do this? Can’t we do better?
First of all, the turn of the year is a big deal and feels like a fresh start when we can re-set ourselves to start better habits, achieve more and grow. It feels tempting to promise things to ourselves. But then we fail because our motivation fades. And at the of the new year we realise that we missed a year again, and to make up for it we make new resolutions. And there it is, we’re in a vicious circle.
But yes, the good news is: we can do better.
Here are some hints about the how, before you think about our what your newest resolutions should be.
• Don’t repeat your past mistakes. Think about what stopped you last year, and learn from it.
• Find realistic goals. They should be achievable and motivating at the same time.
• Don’t set too many. Pick your priorities and cross out the rest.
• Be specific. If you can, measure your progress – numbers make success real.
• Start small. Break your goal down to steps, and just start somewhere!
• Get support. Have a friend to remind you about it time-to-time, or do it together.
• Keep track. Follow the steps you set out. Remember, it’s about the process.
• And, finally: celebrate! Every little success. You deserve it, and it helps to keep you motivated.
Now you know how you can do better next year with your resolutions.
Next, check our list of 7 realistic resolution ideas for inspiration below, pick some for yourself and start planning for success.
1. Cut down on screen time
We put this in the first place because we find this so important, and probably the biggest challenge for digital minds. And because it would bring real benefits to your life.
What benefits exactly?
- avoid health issues, like eye sight problems, back pain and bent shoulders,
- avoid digital burnout, and
- have more time for anything else, including other people and yourself.
The good news is that there are different effective strategies to cut down on screen time and you can pick yours. Here are some hints for you:
- Set a timer and leave your desk for 10 minutes every hour. Make a coffee, grab a glass of water, do plank for 1 minute (challenge in the challenge!) or step outside. Up to you!
- If you are in home office: cook your own lunch. It shouldn’t take forever, if you have some easy recipes and a well stocked fridge. Whip up a healthy veggie stir-fry or a quick pasta dish and you are not only taking time away from your computer, but will also enjoy a fresh warm meal.
- Set a time in the evening when no-screen time begins. Have some quality time with your partner, enjoy a board game or a good book, exercise or go for a nice walk, just spend something outside the digital world.
To start small you can do any of the above just for 1 or 2 days every week, and then increase the number of days later.
2. Read one book a month
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body” said Joseph Addison and we couldn’t agree more. It keeps your brain fit, helps disconnecting and it is a great source of inspiration.
If you’re wondering about what to read, check out our list of 9 favourite books for techy minds.
We suggest you invest in an ebook reader if you haven’t done yet, to also do something for the environment. Except, obviously, if your are obsessed with the smell of newly printed books and stuffed bookshelves – because that is also totally understandable.
Consider joining a book club either online or offline, locally or for a bigger audience. Goodreads.com for example is a global book club, and a great community platform for you to:
- make social connections with reader friends,
- maintain reading lists,
- check reviews and recommendations,
- join reading challenges and
- track your reading progress.
3. Work out every day
Sounds like something you’ve tried and failed at a thousand times? Don’t lose heart. You can do it, if you want it, your just need to change your approach. Remember the hints in the beginning? Start small. That might be the key here.
Let’s make one thing clear in the beginning. Human beings are hard-wired not to exercise. This is where thousands of years of evolution led us, to avoid physical activity when it’s not necessary to run after our lunch or from the enemy. So it is totally normal and very human if you just want to sit around all day. You’re not flawed.
On the other hand, just being lazy all day – since we don’t have to run after our lunch and from our enemies now on a daily basis – is not healthy for us at all. So we should exercise for our well-being, preferably at least 30 minutes a day.
Benefits of regular exercise include:
- better mood (thanks, endorphins),
- better sleep (since you’re getting actually tired),
- better body (bye-bye swimbelts)
- fitter mind (new and stronger neural connections in our brains), and
- longer life (due to longer telomeres).
Quite a list, right? Totally worth the sweat.
Now you just need to pick your type of exercise and implement the plan smart – start small approach.
Are you bored of standard exercise types? Try something new! Check out an online tai chi class, browse for dance tutorial videos, or get a skateboard.
Want to keep it simple? Put on your sneakers and just get outside for a run or a long walk.
Whatever you choose to do, remember: you can always start small (5 minutes or 1 km) and you can mix it with other types of exercise for more fun and even better results.
4. Drink enough water
Sounds boring already? Well, this one may not have the potential fun factor of the previous ideas, but it’s 1) super healthy, 2) probably the easiest to keep.
Why is it healthy? This may be nothing new for you, but drinking enough water helps you:
- keep your energy and brain function high during the day,
- boost your physical performance, and
- prevent problems like head aches, kidney stones, weight gain or hangovers.
Such a magical cure-all.
And why is it easy to keep this resolution? Because water drinking in sort of addictive. The more you drink the more you want to drink – you get used to it. You just have to start it – it’s that easy.
What might still help more?
- If you simply keep track of how much you drink every day,
- if you keep a big bottle or a glass full or water on your desk at all times, or even better,
- if you are lucky enough to have a smart mug or bottle that can actually monitor your amounts and even send you reminders when necessary.
5. Start saving money
Sounds like another boring idea, and too much of a challenge? Just think of all the fun things you will be able to spend your saved money on! Not forgetting the peace of mind you will have from having an emergency fund.
Some tips on this one to make it easier for you:
- Don’t worry if you have little to save from in the first place. Small amounts add up and saving little is actually much more than no saving.
- It’s always easier to not spend money you haven’t expected, so if some Christmas bonus or new year raise finds you, it could be wise to start with saving that.
- Sleep on your purchases. The money your are saving is the money you are not spending. If you fall in love with something in a shop online or offline, leave it there. Make a mental note, take a picture, even put it in your virtual basket, whatever feels right. Just don’t buy it yet. Go home, sleep on it, and you’ll see tomorrow if you should really have it or not. You will know better by then.
- Make a wish list of things you’re saving for and keep it in eye sight. Check it before any purchases, and also randomly to keep yourself motivated.
- Use cash instead of electronic options whenever you can. Bank cards are easier to spend from, especially with contactless pay, not to mention online purchases where you don’t even need to touch an object holding your money. Be careful with social distancing and hygiene though.
- Make use of technology and automation. There are tons of apps (like Mint or You Need a Budget) that can help you keeping a budget – and do this as painlessly as possible. Check them out and pick one that you like most. Also, your bank may have saving plans for small amounts free or charge or for a tiny fee. Check your options there, too.
6. Plan a vacation
Now this one is fun, but could also sound like quite a challenge with everything that went down during the pandemic. Social distancing, closed borders, and on top obviously, the economic and climate crisis. If you were lucky, you had a vacation during the last years, but if you were stuck in your home whole year, it must feel like high time to have a vacation finally again.
It all depends on your timing, budget and imagination.
You may want to wait with the actual travelling until after restrictions are over to have more options. But you can start planning ahead already.
- You can set out a budget and start saving for it (see previous point), and postpone unrelated spendings. You should probably wait with buying tickets and making bookings yet, but you can set aside dedicated amounts anyways.
- Also, you can watch virtual tours online to find your dream destination.
- And you can subscribe to travel sites for early discounts once the green light for travelling is back on.
But if you can’t wait, you can have a vacation, too, you just have to plan it extra carefully. Like taking all social distancing, border crossing and curfew policies into consideration. How exactly?
- It might be wise not to leave the country for your vacation.
- Go either solo, with your partner or a friend after some self-quarantine.
- It’s also probably a good idea to take a car instead of public transport, to avoid too much social contact.
- Also, consider going on a single-center tour, where you sleep at home every night, and take a different trip everyday.
Sounds unusual? Definitely. But it is still be better than no vacation at all, and it may actually be a lot of fun. If you take the money that you save on hotels and spend it on electric car rental, it will make your next vacation super environment-friendly, too.
7. Learn a new skill
We left our favourite for last. It’s our favourite because we believe that learning not only makes everyone better, it is also a lot of fun – and obviously because we think we can help you with this one.
We suggest that you learn something:
- that you can study online (who knows how long we can’t go back to the classrooms),
- that you will be able to use online (same for returning to offices),
- that is future-proof (time well spent, with an actual return), and
- most importantly: that you are really motivated to learn and use.
We at Codecool know most about programming, how to help you learning it and starting a new, tech career in one year.
Who knows, you might even find your new passion while getting ready for your new, future-proof tech career this year.