As contradictory as it seems, I’m a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions even if I don’t believe in them. Writing down my goals helps me to clarify what I want or need to achieve and gives me a sense of direction. The biggest problem is that unless I look at them on a regular basis, by the end of January I have all but forgotten about those wonderful resolutions.
It seems I’m not alone. According to a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions. The best part? The same study reports that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. So, even if you don’t believe in making resolutions for 2014, you should. It won’t hurt you, for sure, but it might end up helping you succeed at what you really wish to attain next year. The study says 64% managed to keep their resolutions past the first month, but that number drops down to 46% after six months. Still, that’s a pretty significant number that shouldn’t be ignored. Maybe I’ll be in that group next year.
Need some inspiration? I checked out lists by usa.gov and others to see what are the most popular resolutions. I added a few of my own in the slideshow below.
20 ideas for New Year’s Resolutions 1 of 21
If you finally decide to make New Year's resolutions and need a bit of inspiration, click through for 20 great ideas to make you a happier and healthier person in 2014. Some will even make you a better parent!
Play more with your children 2 of 21
As our children grow, we forget sometimes how fun it can be to simply play with them. Make it a priority as a parent to have more fun with your kids and play with them instead of merely supervising them.
Embrace your imperfect life 3 of 21
If you want a happier life, experts agree on this: stop trying to be perfect. Make peace with trying your best and learn to adjust your expectations.
Make friendships a priority 4 of 21
We all say how much our friends mean to us but the best way to show them how important they really are to us is by making time to actually be with them. Liking a Facebook status is not enough when you hear something great happened to somebody you care about. Call them, or even better, meet face-to-face. Not only will your friendship grow, you will feel so much better.
Taking care of yourself has to be a priority 5 of 21
No matter how many responsibilities you have or how many people you take care of, the most important person on your list has to be you. Taking care of yourself is key even when life is simply overwhelming. It is not a luxury, but rather a necessity. So schedule your annual checkup, keep your mind and body healthy and know your limits.
Family meals should be a goal, too 6 of 21
As Margie R. Skeer, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts mentions, there are many studies that highlight the benefits of eating meals together as a family. This "can reduce the probability that adolescents will smoke, drink and use drugs, as well as lower the incidence of risky sexual behaviors," writes Skeer. More important than the food being eaten together is the interaction and communication that takes place, so this is a great goal for your family in 2014.
Clean out your closet 7 of 21
Cleaning out our closet is not fun, but it something we should all do periodically. To paraphrase what my friends Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest mention in their book Minimalist Parenting, you need to make room for the things that you love and that bring you joy.
That means getting rid of clothes that don't fit, that you haven't worn in over a year (unless you just gave birth) or that you simply don't like. There's something tremendously liberating in the act of getting rid of what you don't need.
Be less judgmental 8 of 21
Although we all know we shouldn't, we tend to judge others. Parents seem to be overly critical of others or at least are rather vocal. I've learned that you never know what is really going on in another person's life, so I'm less judgmental than ever. It will make you a better person and it might even open up the door to help somebody who doesn't know how to ask for help.
Listen more 9 of 21
We are so pressed for time that it's too easy to rush to conclusions and even assume what the other person is trying to say before they finish their sentences. Pause. Listen. And really process what that person is saying. Let others finish their sentences. Don't rush them. This leads to better relationships because it allows real communication and interaction to take place.
Smile more 10 of 21
Smiling has so many benefits that it should be in your 2014 goals. Not only are smiles contagious, but they have health benefits such as reducing stress hormones, lowering blood pressure and increasing endorphins (the feel-good hormones).
Live beneath your means 11 of 21
Especially if you haven't been able to save money until now, but you should make it a priority in 2014. It doesn't matter how little you can put away, it is crucial for your financial well-being to live beneath your means and to save money. Not only is retirement a concern, but once you have kids, education is a huge priority. Plus, we all need an emergency cushion because life is too unpredictable.
Volunteer to help others 12 of 21
Volunteering in your community not only helps others, it can benefit your health. A report presented by CNCS in a report titled "The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research," showed that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.
Plus, you'll set a great example for your children.
Manage your stress 13 of 21
This is a popular resolution as well. Obviously nobody wants to stress more, but our hectic lives as parents male us forget that we need to manage all our duties and responsibilities so they don't overwhelm us. Make lists, establish priorities (by the way, if everything is a priority it means nothing is), ask for help when you need it and find healthy ways to let off some steam when your stress level skyrockets.
Sleep more 14 of 21
Sleep deprivation is too common these days, especially after you become a parent. Many of us don't even get six hours of sleep each night, which can impact your health in many ways. When it becomes chronic, sleep loss, can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system's power, reports the Harvard Women's Health Watch.
Take better care of our planet 15 of 21
Let's be kind to our planet and plan on being more green. This means you should begin to reduce waste, reuse resources whenever possible and remember to recycle. These three principles can go a long way in saving natural resources, reducing your carbon footprint and helping protect the world in which our kids will live in. Lead by example and you'll see how your children start helping as well. You can start with small steps, such as unplugging chargers when you're not using them and recycling water bottles.
Exercise more 16 of 21
This is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions and many people choose to begin exercise plans or join a gym in January. Whether it's because you feel guilty after over-indulging during the holidays or because you honestly want to be in better shape, try to keep the momentum going by aiming for attainable goals. If you haven't exercised in a while (I'm guilty as charged), schedule 15 minutes of exercise every single day and then begin adding up more time.
It's best to check with your doctor before you begin any exercise or fitness program, especially if you've been leading a sedentary lifestyle. How much exercise do you need as a minimum? For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. And no, running from one place to another does not qualify as exercise, but it will surely exhaust you.
Disconnect to reconnect 17 of 21
In this age of smartphones, social media, wearable technology, tablets and constant messaging, it is too easy to be connected all day while forgetting how important it is to be engaged face to face, in real time. In 2014, aim to be more connected IRL (in real life), which means you will need to disconnect more from your virtual life. And that is okay.
Eat healthy 18 of 21
This is a goal that is on every single list I looked at. We all have the best of intentions, don't we? Well, eat healthier in 2014 by preferring fresh fruits and vegetables, eating lean protein (such as fish), avoiding fried foods, plus reducing sugar, sodium and saturated fats in your diet. Think long term instead of short term, so this is really more of a lifestyle change rather than a diet.
Give your child your undivided attention 19 of 21
An easy way to become a better parent in 2014 is giving each child more individual time. That 1:1 time means no other siblings, family members or friends. Kids tend to open up more if you actually do an activity together, such as walking, playing at the park or making a craft, but any individual attention you can give a child will pay off in the long run.
Do something you love 20 of 21
On your resolutions list, don't forget to schedule in time to do something you love. Find a hobby if you don't have one or simply plan to have at least 15 minutes doing what you want to do, not that you have to do. It can be reading, walking, or even watching TV. Just make sure you find time to do something you love, so it can recharge you.
Set limits 21 of 21
To be happier and healthier in 2014, learn and dare to say no when you really don't want to or simply cannot do something others are asking of you. Setting limits and enforcing them doesn't only work with children; it is also necessary when dealing with family members and friends that tend to keep demanding things and making us resent them later.
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