~ 5 minute read – Each year, millions of us make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change.
It’s a pattern familiar to us all. We start the year full of motivation and buoyed up with inspiration gleaned from the hundreds of articles and ads we’ve been bombarded with, extolling the ‘New Year, New You’ mantra. But come 1st February, our intentions have withered into oblivion, leaving us dispirited and despondent.
Statistics show that a whopping 78% of us fail our new year’s resolutions. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. With clear, realistic objectives, careful planning and following some expert tips, we really can succeed. So, what are the most popular new year’s resolutions? And how can we achieve our goals for the year ahead?
What Are the Most Popular New Year’ Resolutions?
1. Improve Diet
Healthier eating consistently tops the list at Number 1.
We’re all guilty of over-indulging from time-to-time – some of us more frequently – and we could all improve our diets in one way or another.
But to achieve long-lasting change, the key here is not to diet, but to develop sustainable eating habits. Starving ourselves or being too strict with what we can and can’t eat sets us up for failure. If we’re constantly hungry, we’re likely to dump the diet into the ‘too hard’ bin. If we’re too restrictive, we’ll be more tempted to binge.
If we’re serious about eating healthier, we need to start thinking differently about our diet and lifestyle and change those bad eating habits.
Rather than being radical, break your overall objective down into smaller, more achievable goals.
For example, rather than trying to cut out sugar completely, opt for healthier alternatives which will satisfy your sweet cravings. Swap supermarket biscuits for homemade cookies with a lower sugar content, opt for dark chocolate instead of milk and switch refined sugar for honey, stevia or rice syrup. There are a plethora of low-sugar and sugar-free sweet treat recipes available online.
If you’re really craving chocolate or a packet of chips, have some! If you deprive yourself for too long, you’ll end up bingeing. But rather than wolfing down the whole chocolate bar, limit yourself to 3 squares.
Swapping white carbohydrates (such as white bread and rice) for wholegrains, such as brown bread, rice and oats, could save you up to 700 calories per week, whilst increasing your fibre intake and boosting your metabolism.
There are literally hundreds of simple changes you can make to lower your sugar and fat intake and reduce your calorie consumption, from swapping mayo for mustard, to substituting spaghetti for zucchini spirals.
Sufficient vitamins and minerals are vital to your health. Rather than fixating on the need to eat platefuls of fruit and veg at every meal, break it down. Think about the nutritional content of various produce and consider how you can pack as much goodness into your diet as possible. Mix it up! Variety in your diet will not only benefit your health, but it will also make mealtimes a lot more enjoyable!
2. Exercise More
Again, if you push yourself too hard, you’ll be more likely to give up.
Create changes for the long-term, rather than short bursts of intense activity which isn’t sustainable. And choose activities which you enjoy – a week in, it’ll be nigh-on impossible to summon the strength for a workout session you hate.
Is there a sport you particularly enjoyed when you were younger? Why not look at taking it up again? Or if you prefer solitary exercise, take up regular walking or cycling. Being out and about also provides a distraction, so you’ll be less focused on counting down to when you can stop!
Equally, gardening is a great form of exercise – and productive at the same time! You’re bound to work multiple muscle groups what with all the tugging, lugging and squatting! But if you’re cutting trees and bushes, or weeding large areas, you’ll fill your bin in double-quick time, so it’s worth hiring a skip bin. Having a skip will also motivate you to get the job finished, rather than allowing it to drag out over several weeks as the bin gets emptied and refilled over and over.
Exercise classes can be hugely motivating and surrounded by other people, you’ll be less likely to knock off early! You’ll also be following a professional programme designed to get the most out of your session. And there is the added bonus of making new friends!
Exercising with a friend can be more fun and help to keep you on track as you’ll have made a commitment to them. Equally, fitness technology can spur you into action and help drive you towards your goals. Exercise apps will tell you how many kilometres you’ve travelled and how many calories you’ve burned, while Fitbits will alert you if you’ve been sedentary for too long.
Look at your weekly schedule and determine where you’ll be able to fit in some exercise. For super-packed schedules, this might mean getting up half an hour earlier, or meeting friends for a walk rather than a coffee, but it’ll be worth it. Once you’ve identified slots for exercise, re-write your schedule – and stick to it!
3. Lose Weight
This often goes hand-in-hand with diet and exercise. Again, rather than putting yourself through days of starvation and exhaustion from too much exercise, break bad habits with realistic changes. Make sustainable lifestyle choices, rather than setting yourself radical challenges.
Break your overall weight loss goal down into smaller, more achievable goals.
For example, if you’re aiming to lose 10kg, devise an eating and exercise plan and work out how much you can realistically lose per month.
And remember, muscle weighs more than fat. So, rather than obsess with the scales, instead focus on your measurements. Take your waist, hip, thigh and upper arm measurements before you implement your lifestyle changes and again every month. This will more accurately reflect your fat loss than the scales will. And even the smallest adjustments to your measurements can be hugely rewarding – and motivational!
4. Learn a New Skill or Hobby
This is one of the most popular and least achieved New Year’s resolutions.
It’s incredibly vague. All too often, people add this to their list, without giving much thought to what skill or hobby they want to take up.
Think about this resolution in advance and focus on what you really want and will enjoy, not what’s trendy. Yoga may be all the rage, but if you don’t enjoy it, what’s the point in trying to devote time to it?
Be specific about what you want and work out how you can achieve it. For example, if you’ve decided you really want to take up piano, find a piano teacher you have a rapport with and schedule time to practice. Discipline is a must!
5. Save More & Spend Less
We’d all like more money in our bank account come the end of the year, but without clear steps and determination you’re unlikely to end up in a stronger financial position.
There are literally 101 ways you can save money, but here are a few top tips to follow:
- Create a written budget and track your expenses. The easiest way to cut costs is to know where you’re spending.
- Review your utility bills and compare providers.Every year Australians pay about $1.2 billion more than they should for their energy. Contact various providers to find out how much you can save, but make sure you’re comparing apples with apples and beware of the pitfalls of comparison sites.
Follow these top tips to save up to 40% off your power and water bills:
- Swap traditional lightbulbs for CLFs
- Turn off appliances at the plug
- Only use the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load
- Wash your clothes in cold water
- Dry your clothes on a line rather than using the tumble-dryer
- Close doors to retain the heat / cool air
- Use ceiling fans over air-con when possible
- Check the seals on your fridge door for leaks
- Fix leaky taps
- Avoid taking baths
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
- Take shorter showers
- Install a low-flow shower-head
- Check that your internet and phone plans are cost-effective. Check what bandwidth you need, as you could be paying too much, and negotiate with your provider to secure a better deal. You can often save further by bundling your internet, phone and cable service.
- Start salary packaging. Salary packaging – or salary sacrifice – enables you to reduce your tax and increase your take-home pay. ATO-approved and available to pretty much anyone who is employed, it’s a no-brainer!
- Review your insurance policies. Are you paying too much? Finding the right insurance can be a complex undertaking. Engage a reputable insurance broker to help you secure the right insurance. Experienced brokers can tailor a policy to your specific needs – and save you money. Remembers, brokers work on your behalf, not the insurer’s.
- Avoid impulse buys. Create a meal plan for the week ahead and stick to your shopping list. And don’t go clothes shopping unless there is something you really need.
- Take your lunch into work. Make your lunch at home or take leftovers, to avoid buying lunch out. A $10 sandwich or sushi box from a café each day soon mounts up.
- Cut down on the lattes. Buying just one coffee per day adds up to an astounding average of $1,460 per year! Make your coffee at home or work instead.
- Do your homework. Whether you’re planning a holiday, sourcing a new car, or buying a new kettle, there are deals to be had. Take the time to do the research and you’re sure to save.
Most of us would love to travel more. But travel requires time and money, so you’ll need to put in some effort.
You’ll need to be disciplined in saving money for your trip – and this usually starts several months beforehand. You’ll also need to book time off from work in advance. Spend time researching places you want to visit as this will not only ensure you get the most out of your holiday, but will also motivate you to crack on and book it!
7. De-Clutter & Get Organised
According to psychological studies, there are several benefits to reducing your clutter and better organising your life, including:
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced tension within relationships
- Increased motivation and energy
- Improved concentration
- Improved sleep
- Improved happiness
So, it’s no wonder this one frequently graces the list of top 10 New Year’s resolutions!
Depending on how much ‘stuff’ you have, de-cluttering can be a mammoth task and requires a methodical approach.
Start with one room at a time, working from the top down. Work through each room systematically and create piles for items you want to keep, items you can repurpose, items for charity and items of no use.
Arrange the items you want to keep neatly in drawers, or in boxes and store them away in cupboards or even a hired storage unit if you have a lot of boxes, or bulky items.
Once you’ve finished sorting, add the items of no use to a hired skip bin and take the items for charity down to the op shop right away, so you can clear the decks at home.
And don’t leave the items you want to repurpose lying around the house. If you don’t think you’ll get around to repurposing them any time soon, get rid of them! You need to be ruthless sometimes!
Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time for a good spring-clean!
8. Find a New Job
If you’re serious about finding a new job, you need to devote time to it. Update your CV, refresh your LinkedIn page and register with suitable recruitment agents. Networking – both online and offline – can also provide a great way of opening doors.
And when it comes to job interviews, research is key. Familiarise yourself with the company itself, its’ products and services, and the industry. Also, think about interview questions you’re likely to be asked and practice your responses to them.
9. Go Green
This is a newer addition to the traditional New Year’s resolution list, but is becoming an increasingly popular contender in the top 10 spots.
This is largely fueled by the recent surge in educational initiatives and media coverage around pollution and global warming. As a nation we are becoming more aware of the devastating impact this has on the environment – and are therefore making more environmentally-conscious decisions.
While you need to be disciplined, being ‘green’ isn’t as hard as you’d think. There are lots of easy ways to become more environmentally-responsible, a few of which include:
- Reduce your waste
- Avoid using disposable cups and food containers
- Shop with re-usable shopping bags
- Carpool, take public transport, or ride a bike
- Repurpose and recycle
Many people are also choosing to go ‘Zero Waste,’ not only because of the positive environmental impact, but also because it can save you money and help to improve your health.
10. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
Spending time with loved ones can make us feel happier, more fulfilled and is generally good for our well-being. And with the busy lives we all live, it’s unsurprising that so many people vow to spend more time with loved ones every year.
Why not set a regular dinner date each week? Or agree to spend every second Sunday together? If your loved ones are further afield, arrange a regular Skype or FaceTime chat.
In summary, here are 6 simple tips on how to achieve your goals this year:
- Set clearly defined goals
- Break your goal(s) into a series of steps which are measurable and time-based
- Make your plans concrete by writing them down
- Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals
- Tell your friends and family about your objectives
- Don’t use set-backs as an excuse to give up altogether
So there you have it, the most popular resolutions and how to achieve them. Here’s ‘cheers’ to a bigger, better 2019!