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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Ways to feel fine in the New Year

Every New Year, gyms fill up with well-meaning people trying to work pony-kegs into six-packs and couch potatoes into marathon-runners. Diets are everywhere we turn, and every magazine has “YOU CAN GET ORGANIZED!” on their covers. One month later, how many of us are still working on our resolutions?

Instead of making huge sweeping resolutions that are difficult to keep, try making small changes that lead to big results.

The top resolutions are improving health (by quitting a bad habit, or starting a new good habit),  better financial management (by getting out of debt, saving money, or getting a different job) and personal improvement (organizing your environment, or learning new skills).

Improve Your Health

  • If you want to exercise more, set a small goal of 10 minutes of walking a day. You can do 10 minutes, right? Sure! Keep track, and at the end of the week celebrate the minutes you did walk instead of worrying about what you didn’t do! When that becomes easy, add five or ten minutes each day, and soon you’ll find yourself looking forward to getting your time in. 
  • If you want to eat right, aim for adding one more serving of a fruit or vegetable today. That’s easy, right? You can do that!
  • Don’t drink enough water? Decide to drink one additional glass each day.
  • If you have a bad habit that you need to break and cold-turkey doesn’t work for you, try a gradual weaning. Reduce the times you allow yourself the habit until you have it under control—then quit!

Improve Your Finances

  • If you want to get out of debt, choose one thing you can cut back on—maybe skip hitting the coffee place every day and decide to go just once a week. Or pack a lunch three times a week instead of running to the fast food place every day. (Ooh, bonus, you’re being healthier, too!) Apply the money you save to pay down a credit debt.
  • Saving money can be a little easier if you have a goal to aim for, like a fun trip. (It can even be an imaginary trip!) Make it a game to add the small change that gathers up on a weekly or monthly basis, and watch the dollars grow!

Improve Yourself

  • Do you want to have better relationships with your family or friends? Designate one day a week to reach out to those you don’t see often and send an email, card, or pick up the phone for a quick hello.

Improve Your Home

  • Organization is not a dirty word… unless you struggle to find your keys, kitchen, or kids in the tundra! If you have too much stuff everywhere, it’s time to schedule a decluttering session—literally schedule this on your calendar—and then you can begin to truly organize! If children purge the unneeded items in their rooms, it will make cleaning easier.
  • Set up a few boxes or bags for sorting purposes and label them Trash, Donate, Put Away. Challenge kids to come up with a number of things to fill a container, like five stuffed animals, or ten plastic toys, and set a timer for fifteen minutes to race. (For moms and dads it might be ten kitchen gadgets or five tools you don’t use anymore…) A few of these short sessions will quickly help you gain control.
  • Now you have room to organize—and can see what you have left to deal with. Think about where you use things, or how you use them, and put them away accordingly. If you always sit in a big, comfy chair to read your magazines, put a basket with the magazines next to it. Make everything as few steps away as possible.
  • Keep on top of new messes by scheduling 10–20 minute organizing sessions each day (once again, commit to this by putting it in your calendar). This way, it won’t add up.

Questions to help you along the way:

  • Is this item something that adds value to my life?
  • Do I use this?
  • Do I have more than one of this item?
  • Can I repair it? (Is it worth repairing?)
  • Is it useful to someone else?

Improve the Planet

  • Do you recycle? One way to make it easier is to actually designate a container by the trash to be just for recyclables. (No more digging through the coffee grounds to save a Coke can!)
  • Driving the speed limit saves gas and our air quality—plus, you don’t have to budget for speeding tickets!

The good news about these ideas is that they are doable, now. Setting—and meeting—small, attainable goals will give you energy and enthusiasm to continue making positive changes. And best of all, small and steady changes last longer and are easier to maintain!

Happy New Year!