We’re creeping our way through the Holiday season and peeking over the end of the year into the bright and shining light of the new. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on our lives and resolve to make changes, both big and small, in order to increase the quality of our lives. Here’s a list of some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Lose Weight
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over 2/3 of all Americans are overweight or obese. With statistics like these it’s no wonder that losing weight tops the lists of New Year’s Resolutions year after year. But you don’t need to lose weight just to look better in your jeans. Even a small weight loss of 5-7% of your body weight (for someone weighing 200 lbs this means only 10-14 lbs of loss) can dramatically reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, osteoporosis, and depression. But you don’t have to jump on the treadmill or start doing Bikram Yoga 6 days a week. The recommendations for “five sessions per week of light-to-moderate physical activity lasting 30 minutes or more” can include activities like walking briskly around the neighborhood, vigorously murdering the weeds in your garden, or even engaging in 30 minutes (or more!) some pulse-pounding nookie.
2. Drink Less Alcohol
If you’re a heavy drinker you know that you should cut back on your alcohol consumption. The CDC reports that more than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinking which is defined as when a man consumes more than 5 and woman consumes more than 4 drinks in a 2 hour period. Excess alcohol wreaks havoc on your liver, your brain, your skin, and your eyes. Cutting back on your intake has some great benefits:
- Reduce your waist size – alcohol is, essentially, just empty calories. Unless it’s a high-quality glass of red wine, rich in antioxidants, the glass of booze in your hand is a nutritional wasteland.
- Save Money – It’s no secret, alcohol costs money. Keep your money where it belongs rather than drinking it all.
- End the Hangover – The morning after a night of hard drinking is always a doozy. The cotton mouth, the headache, the light sensitivity, and the decreased productivity mean that you’re about as useless the morning after as you are in the midst of your binge.
- Bring Sexy Back – This one’s for the dudes. After 4 drinks testosterone levels plummet which reduces your ability to…er…”stand at attention” if you know what we mean. Chronic drinking amplifies this effect meaning that you can impact your “potency” in the long-term. To make a “long story, short”, cut back on the booze and make your “play” time more valuable.
- Make your Liver Happy – Drinking takes a huge toll on your liver. The liver can only process about half an ounce of alcohol per hour. If you consume more, the liver can’t process and complications arise in our vital systems due increased blood-alcohol content. Furthermore, the liver can become permanently damaged. Liver cirrhosis and other liver disorders are the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths.
3. Get out of Debt
The total amount of consumer debt in the US is a staggering $2.4 trillion which spreads out to be approximately $7,800 per person. Making the choice to reduce your debt is one of the best possible resolutions you can make. Start by increasing the amount you pay toward monthly, high-interest accounts (like credit cards). Even throwing an extra $20 per month towards your debt can significantly reduce the time it takes to pay off the entire balance. Here are some simple ways to reduce your monthly expenses. Put your savings towards your high-interest debts:
- Bring lunch to work rather than buying every day
- Cut out your afternoon trip to Starbucks
- Nix your cable TV bill and opt for Netflix or Hulu instead
- Share potluck dinners with friends rather than meeting at a restaurant
- Turn your thermostat down just one degree and enjoy a 1% savings (every little bit helps!)
4. Spend more Time with Family
Back in the 1937 FDR signed Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as part of his New Deal agenda, establishing the five-day, 40-hour maximum workweek. But over time the American workweek has crept up meaning that 38% of workers are putting in more than 50 hours of work per week and a whopping 80% are checking work emails and doing other work-related tasks outside of office hours. This means that the work/life balance is precariously out-of-whack for many Americans! Choosing to spend time with your family away from your smartphone or laptop and, ideally, away from the television, will have a huge impact your quality of life and of your loved ones.
5. Help Others
Giving back to make a difference can take many, many forms. Volunteer at your local library, make a pile of sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless, make a reoccurring donation to the Red Cross, or mentor a child in need. Donating your time or your money not only feels good but makes a genuine impact. Gather sweaters in your neighborhood to bring to a shelter, collect canned goods for a food drive, or even just write a check to your favorite animal shelter, every little bit makes a lasting impression.
6. Get Organized
Surely a New Year’s Resolution that appears on darn-near EVERYONE’S resolution list is to get your life organized. Whether it’s de-cluttering your home office, committing to folding your laundry fresh out of the dryer, or re-organizing your pantry, we could all benefit from a bit more tidiness in our lives. Here are a few websites that can give you a great start:
- Unclutterer – Unclutterer provides posts on decluttering and organizing as well as inspiring photos of awesomely-organized rooms and workspaces.
- JD Organizer – Professional organizer, Jeri Dansky, has a site full of space and time-saving products reviews (trash cans, collapsible kitchen tools, indoor clothes drying racks, umbrella stands, etc.); before and after organizing projects; and tons articles about organizational technique. Dansky also profiles some great products and methods for organizing stuff.
- Real Simple – Providing both simple home decor tips and organizational genius, Real Simple has been providing their wisdom in both magazine and web format for years and the amount of knowledge they bring to the table is incredible.
7. Quit Smoking
We don’t even need to talk about this one. If you smoke, you KNOW it’s not good for you. Knock it off.
8. Enjoy Life
According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year. Making a resolution to purposely slow down and take time to enjoy life can be hugely freeing. It gives you the chance to say “No” when you’ve been saying “Yes” to more responsibility, more chores, more stress for so long. Take your family on a hike, allow yourself to sit down with a novel for an hour, or take a dance class with your spouse rather than signing up for another committee. Enjoyment is all around, you just have to allow yourself the opportunity.
9. Find a Mate
Everyday thousands of people sign up for online dating sites. If you’re looking for love in the New Year then this might just be the perfect time to jump into the pool yourself! Before you take the plunge take a peek at OkCupid’s AWESOME blog about the ins and outs of online dating and some of the fascinating statistics from their site. These self-professed “math nerds” are taking data from user profiles on OkCupid and drilling down to extract meaningful trends and tidbits of information. Like a graph showing how much sex different smartphone users have. Priceless information, my friends.
10. Learn Something New
We’re often so busy with the day-to-day tasks of life that we don’t take the time to learn something new and exciting. A new language, how to forage for mushrooms and not poison yourself, how to roll sushi, juggle, arrange flowers, play rugby, or how to write HTML. Learning something new is so, incredibly good for you. It challenges your brain to work in ways that it hasn’t done before forming new connections. It gives you new and expanded appreciation for the world around you and the skills that it takes to create the things you may have previously taken for granted.