Keeping New Year’s resolutions

Most people are often encouraged to make New Year’s resolutions. So, where do you start?

A great way to make New Year’s resolutions that actually stick with you longer than February is to start by reflecting. Reflecting over the events of the past year helps determine what goals we were able to accomplish and what goals still need some time. Reflecting on what we were and weren’t able to accomplish will also show us which goals need a higher priority and which goals we make year after year because we think we should, and they end up dropped.

Start by asking yourself some general questions:

  • What was your biggest challenge this past year?
  • If you could change one thing about the past year, what would it be?
  • What is something you could have done to make the past year more: Exciting, enjoyable, productive, healthy, and profitable?

Once you’ve reflected and given yourself time to think about those answers, pick one area of your life where you’d like to see some change or improvement. Try reflecting on some of these areas of your life to determine what changes you would like to see in 2015:

  • Reflections on health: How has your health been? If you’ve been healthy in 2014 with few issues, this area is probably already a priority in your life. But if you have health concerns that need to be addressed, these could become your resolutions for 2015. Do you need to work on planning healthier meals or watching portion sizes? Do you need to increase your activity? Do you need to lose weight? Choosing one or both of the first two questions could help you accomplish losing weight.
  • Reflections on stress: Do you have stress in your life or are you managing your stress? If you have stress you might want to choose reducing stress as a resolution. What areas of your life are causing your stress? Focusing on whether stress comes from your job, family, friends, money, relationships, etc. will help you choose which area to focus on. Resolutions might focus on becoming more mindful in your daily life, planning to meditate daily, practicing gentle physical activities or choosing a soothing activity like reading or listening to music.
  • Reflections on relationships: Do you have happy, satisfying connections with your loved ones and close friends? If not, what steps could you take to improve these relationships?
  • Reflections on money, expenses, income and job: If these areas are causing stress you might need to make some resolutions from the stress section or choose specific financial areas to improve. These might include focusing on what money you have and where you spend it, how to reduce expenses; how to increase income, or how to improve job performance.

Reflection can be done over several days or several weeks. Before January ends, decide which area of your life you would like to improve and make those decisions your 2015 resolutions. Make sure each resolution is a concrete expression. In other words, instead of writing “I want to reduce my stress,” list what you’re going to do to reduce your stress. “I’m going to reduce stress by relaxing and listening to music for 15 minutes when I get home from work” would be a goal that’s an action plan. Write two or three activities that you can do for each resolution.

Keep your resolutions to a minimum, too. If you feel you need to write more than one, choose the top two or three areas you want to focus on. Make 2015 your best year yet!

Michigan State University Extension has research-based knowledge to help with your 2015 resolutions. Contact a MSU Extension office near you for more information.

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