Every year at about this time, magazines, newspapers and websites (including ours!) publish their usual articles on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions. We all seem to forget that many people — perhaps even most of us — make such resolutions partly in jest, partly understanding that while our intentions are good, they are not meant to be hard and fast rules.
So this year, we thought we’d try and do something a little different. Instead of offering you 10 things you can do to help keep your resolutions, we’re going to share with you 10 things you can do differently today that will help change your life. None of these will blow your mind, but they will help make a positive impact.
1. Change your routine. Sometimes all we need in our lives is to alter something in our daily routines that hasn’t been working for a long time. We convince ourselves it would be too difficult to change, or that it would require something we don’t have. Making the commitment to change, however, often brings about insight — and resources — that we don’t always initially have.
2. Eat better. While not exactly a revolutionary suggestion, eating just a little better than you have in the past can have a significant impact in your life. We’re not saying do away with the fast food altogether or switch to eating nothing but bran flakes for the rest of your life. But make a commitment to everyday choices that are just a little healthier for you. For instance, opt for a smaller cheeseburger instead of the Big Mac. Eat two cookies instead of five. Eat one day at Subway instead of Burger King or McDonald’s. Don’t deny yourself the pleasures of eating, just try and make healthier decisions everyday when it comes to your food choices.
3. Have a real conversation. So much of our everyday activities are driven by things outside of our perceived control — going to school, work, or taking care of the kids. We seem to be pawns in a life not of our own making sometimes. One way to regain a little sense of control is to stop and have a real conversation with someone about something meaningful. Not every day. Not every conversation. Maybe just once a week, with a friend, a coworker, or your significant other. Talk about something important to you, something meaningful. You’d be surprised at having such regular, real conversations can help better ground you in your life and give it some meaning.
4. De-clutter. Nearly everyone has a clutter problem. While some people seem to have magical abilities removing clutter from their lives, the rest of us seem to live in a constant state of mostly manageable clutter levels. And that’s fine. Nobody should attempt to be Mary Poppins if their lives more often are akin to a tornado’s passing through a town. But if you make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of clutter, that can help you feel more in control of your life. For instance, deal with junk mail the minute you pick it up (don’t keep stacking it until it resembles the leaning tower of Pisa!). Have your children put their own things away once a week. Ask your significant other to help out with de-cluttering your life just a little bit.
5. Exercise. Yeah, yeah, we all know we should exercise more (unless you’re already hitting the gym 5 times a week!), and we all vow we will. But did you know a simple 15 minute walk every day will help significantly improve your long-term health? You don’t need a gym membership to stay a little more fit than you are today. Sometimes people feel the only way they can do something is if they do it 110%. But the easier solution is to find that 15 minutes a day to do something simpler and more likely to happen.
6. Listen more. We all think we listen when others talk to us, and most of the time, we do. But in this fast-paced, multitasking world, we often don’t really listen when someone speaks to us. The closer the person is to us, the more we often don’t really listen to what they’re saying. You can’t just stop not listening, because it’s something most of us have inadvertently learned to do over the years. We pretend (even to ourselves) that we’re listening, but we’re actually doing something on the computer, watching TV, or reading an article or book. Be a little more aware of when you’re doing this, and stop yourself from doing it once in awhile. Listen. While you may think that what you’re doing is more important than what the other person is saying, you may also find that the other person’s words have meaning… If for no other reason than because they are coming from someone you care about.
Grohol, J. (2006). 10 Things You Can Do Differently Today. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 6, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-things-you-can-do-differently-today/000784
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.