HAPPY NEW YEAR, FOLKS!
So tell me: how excited are you about your New Year’s resolution? What… you mean you aren’t stoked about it? Well, why the hell not?
Look, I get it. I didn’t get the bikini-model body I planned to achieve in 2015, but, you know what? I still did some pretty awesome things that I’m proud of. I got healthier because I got a gym membership, started eating better foods, and improved my cardio function. I read more books. I got a big-girl job. Those are all really great things that I’m going to toot my own horn about, because they mean that I made my life better, even if I didn’t drop 2 dress sizes.
A lot of us are used to making the same New Year’s resolution every year, and abandoning it by the time the seasons change. We beat ourselves up about our failure, and wind up caught in cycles of negative self-talk. The problem is that most of our New Year’s resolutions aren’t positive to begin with!
If your resolution is to get healthier and happier, I’m behind you 100 percent. But if you don’t think you can handle a possible failure without putting yourself down, then you need to back away from that resolution. You always have next year, and you might stand a better chance of reaching your goals in a low-stress environment.
In the meantime, try out one of these seven positive New Year’s resolutions instead.
1. Read more books.
I’m sure I read as many books in 2015 as I did in the previous five years combined. I rediscovered my love of books, and decided to make this my No. 1 New Year’s resolution for the rest of my life.
The average adult in the U.S. reads four books each year. No matter what your average is — even if it’s zero — you can always manage to squeeze just one more book into your reading schedule.
2. Have that thing checked out.
Just about everyone I know has something that they keep saying they need to have checked out, whether it’s a suspicious mole, a weird automotive issue, or the symptoms of mental illness. Make this the year you finally get a professional opinion.
3. Donate more to charity.
Donating to a worthy charity lets you make an impact on whichever causes and communities are closest to your heart. If you itemize your income tax deductions, your donations might get you money back on your return. Although you can receive tax deductions for donating non-cash goods and services, remember: a charitable organization can always do more with actual dollars and cents than you can, so prioritize monetary donations over clothing, food, and other products.
4. Practice better self-care.
Say it with me, folks: self-care is important. Even if you weren’t as kind to yourself as you could have been last year, there is no reason not to make it your mission to treat yourself better for the next 12 months. Whether your definition of “self-care” means indulging in overpriced bath bombs — because they’re fun! — or letting yourself take a day off from the responsibilities that stress you out, make this the year you promise to be kinder to the person in the mirror.
5. Max out your 401(k).
In researching my options for retirement savings — I know, how adult of me! — I finally learned how 401(k) programs work. Kind of. OK, not really, but here’s what I do know.
You can contribute up to a certain amount, per IRS regulations, out of your weekly paycheck. Your employer agrees to match a portion of your deferrals. The total amount contributed to your 401(k) may not exceed your annual salary or an amount set by the IRS, whichever is less.
Crunch the numbers, and — if you’re able — make this year about your future.
6. Try 12 new things.
I grew up a picky eater. I didn’t start trying new foods until I was in my twenties. Now, I still may not be an adventurous eater, but I do enjoy trying new things. If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut, take up this New Year’s resolution and try 12 new things before the year is out. That’s just one new thing each month. You can do it.
7. Save more money.
Didn’t I just get done talking about saving money? Yes, and no.
You should absolutely have some form of retirement account set up, but you also need short-term savings. If your money is all tied up in investments, you can’t quickly access it in the event of an emergency. Obviously, every short-term savings account is different; some are convenient places to squirrel away money for unforeseen circumstances, and others have a specific goal in mind. No matter what your purposes are, saving more money will make you feel better when next December rolls around.