As the last bars of “Auld Lang Syne” are sang aloud and the year is toasted with a glass of bubbly, our thoughts no sooner drift to the year to come. This is the fresh slate we all crave where we can fill in our New Year’s desires without the taint of last year’s mistakes. Resolutions are always made with the best intentions, even though, let’s face it, they can fall flat come Feb. 1 – or sooner. That’s why we asked our experts how to avoid the pitfalls of failing resolutions and make 2013 the best year yet.
Resolution No. 1, Get Fit: Finding time to exercise can be tricky, which is why you are more likely to be successful if you schedule it in. “Make it a behaviour,” says Tim Pychyl, psychology professor at Carlton University in Ottawa. “For example: in the New Year, when I come home from work, I will immediately put on my exercise clothes and spend 30 minutes on my exercise bike,” he says.
Resolution No. 2, Eat healthy: Pychyl says the key to eating healthy is to hold yourself accountable. “Say to yourself that when you are done eating, you will clear the table and leave so that you don’t pick at your food,” he says. If losing weight is your ultimate goal, Pychyl recommends coming up with a concrete goal to work towards. “Decide how much weight you want to lose each week and make a plan on how you are going to do it,” he says. “Purge your house of the foods you want to avoid and then make a list of the kinds of food you will buy.”
Resolution No. 3, Save money: It’s not a bad idea to put some money away for a rainy day. The temptation to shop can be your downfall, but luckily, you don’t need infinite willpower to save money – just a solid plan. “Have money taken out of your paycheque immediately and automatically and put that money in a savings account before you even see it,” says Marcia Ramsland, author of the Simplify for Success series of books. “That’s the best way to save money.”
Resolution No. 4, Organize your workspace: Having a cluttered workspace can cause a lot of stress. But when you organize your corporate life, it makes the pile of work awaiting you after the holidays more manageable, less intimidating and less stressful. The secret, according to Ramsland, is to keep track of your progress. She suggests a monthly calendar. “One thing that people do when they are getting organized is to try and clean up their email inbox,” she says. “On a calendar… jot down how many emails are in your inbox and try and lower it in half from the day before or from the week before.”
Resolution No. 5, De-clutter: The average person in America has 13 pairs of shoes, whereas the average person in the world has one pair of shoes, Ramsland says. If your resolution is to help out, one thing you can do is organize your closet and give away all the items you do not like, wear, or need. “Have a giveaway bag or box in your closet,” Ramsland says. “Say one morning you want to wear a white blouse. Get out all your white blouses, and look at them together.” Select the ones you don’t wear often and put them in the donation box. “The next day you may go through your jewelry and say ‘you know, I never wear these, here’s a couple I could give away.’ You can do it in sections,” she says.