I don't know about you, dear reader, but I've always been the kind of person who makes a ton of new year's resolutions. (Lose 2o pounds! Read 50 books! Save 20% of my income!) I'm also the kind of person that has all of them fall through by February - mostly because I try to do too much, too quickly, and burn out before the month's over.
New Year's resolutions are excellent tools for reflection and self-improvement, but they can also be huge sources of guilt and stress if we over-promise and under-deliver. That doesn't mean that those big, adult-y goals, like making better financial decisions or developing a healthier lifestyle, aren't achievable - it just means that you have to adjust your strategies a bit.
First: How to Set Your Goal the RIGHT WAY
First things first - the way you set your goal is one of the biggest things that will determine your success. A resolution like "lose weight" or "learn a skill" is noble, but there's a lot of room for interpretation in that goal, and it doesn't lay out your action plan, so it can set you up for a swift failure.
This year, consider setting a SMART goal (or a set of SMART goals) instead - this is a goal that's specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound, and gives you a better idea of what your action plan might be.
So, instead of "learn a skill," you would have, "By using Rosetta Stone and watching Youtube tutorials, I will learn to speak conversational German by the time I study abroad in Berlin in the fall of 2016." See the difference?
Also, be sure to check out Katlyn's excellent suggestions for setting goals and sticking with them in 2016.
The Adulting Resolutions
The following goals are some of the most common resolutions, but they are also some of the most difficult to achieve because they require major resets of your habits and attitudes. So, I've provided a couple of starting points or strategies to find the best way to make that resolution work for you.
Hitting the ground running with these resolutions isn't going to always work, because you need strategies and time to figure out the best way to make these resolutions work for you. Most importantly, remember to be patient and kind to yourself during the process, because these are major life changes, and badass, together women aren't built in a day.
Saving money is pretty much the adultiest adulty thing you can do at this point in your life (unless you're, y'know, running a company or buying a house or raising a child, in which case, you go girl!) because it requires both self-restraint and thinking about the future.
It seems simple at first - "don't spend your money" - but then your rent is due, and your student loan payment goes out, and you just really really really need those booties at ALDO, and then all your money is gone. To save money, you need to know how much you spend, so you're going to need to take a close look at your budget.
- Print out your bank statement for a non-holiday month (maybe September of 2015, just to be safe, if you're still bringing in the same amount each month) and grab two highlighters. One color you'll use to highlight the necessities - your rent, your bills, your student loan payment, food, gas, toiletries, and any medications you take. The second you'll use to highlight your discretionary spending - going out, shopping for fun, your Starbucks budget. This second amount is your wiggle-room amount.
- Don't plan to use all your wiggle-room money as savings, or you won't stick to this. Take maybe half of your discretionary amount, or whatever makes the most sense for you based on what you're saving for, and set up a direct deposit through your bank to have that amount immediately placed in your savings account when you are paid. This way, you won't miss that money as much because it'll be gone immediately from your checking account.
- Write down a list of everything you are saving for - traveling, grad school, a new pet, or just the peace of mind of having an emergency fund - and put that note in your wallet where you keep your cash or cards, so you see it whenever you make a transaction. It will help you think twice about any impulsive purchases.
- If you have significant credit card debt, it doesn't really make sense to set up major savings while you're amassing significant interest on your debt, so consider splitting your savings so half or more goes towards paying down your debt while you save for the future.
- You don't have to hoard Walter White-esque levels of cash to feel successful with this resolution. Saving just $20 per biweekly paycheck will earn you more than $500 a year, which is enough to cover a small emergency or two. Trust me - nothing feels more adult/baller at 22 or 23 than being able to pay for your cat's emergency room visit out-of-pocket.
Ughhhhh sure, jogging is healthy, but at what cost? This is my resolution for the year, and as anyone who has ever lost weight or tried to change their diet or exercising habits can tell you, this one is a doozy.
Whether you're training for a marathon, wanting to become vegan, or are just trying to lose the weight you gained around the holidays, developing healthy habits is an important part of being an adult and makes a noble new year's resolution.
- If you are thinking about making a major change to your diet, like going paleo, vegetarian, or vegan, or restricting your calories, be sure to do your research on what nutrients you need and how much you need to eat to stay healthy. You can track of the nutrients you're getting in your diet by logging your meals in apps like wholesome, which will track your nutrient intake and provide suggestions on what to eat.
- Speaking of research, informing yourself about where food comes from and how it affects your body is a good start if you're looking to switch up your diet in a positive way. There are a ton of food documentaries on Netflix like Forks Over Knives and King Corn, as well as books such as In Defense of Food, Salt, Sugar, Fat, and Eating Animals. While there's no one answer to the perfect diet, it's good to know what you're putting into your body and make sure that's in line with your personal values.
- If you're new to exercising, take advantage of new member deals for yoga studios, gyms, and other exercise services while you shop around and figure out what's best for you.
- Alternatively, check out Youtubers who specialize in exercise (for example, Blogilates or the Befit channel) to try new types of exercise at home before hitting the gym.
- If you're the type of person who lives and dies by your planner or your phone, schedule time for exercise or set a reminder so you don't put off your exercising. No excuses!
- Finally, take it slow when you're starting out - if you aren't already exercising regularly, aim for two to three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes, and then ramp up as you gain strength and endurance. The easiest way to burn out is to take on too much, too fast, so don't do that to yourself!
Getting your ish together is such a major undertaking for us ladies who aren't naturally organized that it can seem like no matter what you do, you'll never make a dent in the mess.
But fear not! Even if you consider your floor the biggest shelf in your room, there are strategies you can use:
- If you're trying to organize your time, rather than your space, the first thing you need to do is get thee a planner. Preferably a planner with a full page for each day, sectioned by hour, and with space for notes. (See also: How to make planning fun so you'll want to use it!)
- Take time every evening (perhaps right before you go to bed) to write down your schedule for the following day, or take some time on Saturday or Sunday to schedule your week. You can make changes as needed, but this will give you a better sense of what's coming each week so you don't miss important deadlines or appointments.
- If you're organizing your space, clean your home from top to bottom like Marie Kondo recommends. You can do this over a matter of time, room by room, if needed, but attempting to get everything together NOW will give you a sense of what you need or don't need to get organized based on what you already have.
- Going room by room, assess what you need to get organized - do you need more storage? Does the way you have it organized now make sense for how you use it? Do you need that thing, or would you be better off removing it from your space?
Make More Time For Yourself
For busy adult ladies like ourselves, taking time for ourselves is one of the hardest things to do when we have hustles to work, meals to cook, parties to go to, friends to see, etc etc etc. Setting time aside for yourself allows time for self-care, meditation, or doing restorative creative work like journaling or sketching. Here's how to make it happen:
- If you're unsure what sort of stuff you want to do in your free time, and you're defaulting back to Netflix, make a list of stuff that you used to do as a kid or a teenager that you enjoyed. This could be drawing or coloring, reading, baking, or trying DIY face masks. Then, go through the list and see what helps you feel the most relaxed or centered.
- If you're struggling with stress, anxiety, or sleeplessness, try some guided meditation or relaxing yoga before bed as your time for yourself. We have a whole guide on how to get started with meditation if you're interested.
- Again, if you're a planner person, schedule time in your planner for your "me" time, then make it a priority and stick to it, no matter what else is on your plate - even if it's just for 15 minutes or so.
What do you think?
Was this guide helpful? What are your New Year's resolutions for this year? What are your strategies for being successful in the new year? Let me know in the comments below!