With the start of a new year the resolutions list starts piling up with all kinds of ideas, expectations, and projects that we hope to accomplish during the year and probably beyond. However, a number of these resolutions go to the graveyard before they see the light and some of them go the whole way to fruition. 

When we decide to take a new course of break up with an old one, we are actually engaged in forming a new habit. As the psychologist William James once noted, “all our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” 

For good habits to stick and take root they need time, deliberate practice and patience. The great thing is that once the habit is formed it goes unnoticed and we start doing it without any conscious effort.

Likewise, if we are to go through with our resolutions we need to give them ample time to grow and ripen, Rome wasn’t built in a day anyway. Here are few tips to help you create realizable New Year goals : 

Make sure your resolutions are realistic and therefore are doable.Break down your resolutions into smaller chunks and focus on each chunk at a time. Move to the next chunk only when you finish the one you are working on.Select your resolutions from your list of priorities in which case you will feel more compelled to realize them.Broad resolutions are just that: broad. Make specific resolutions.Embrace failure when it happens and know that failure is actually a new learning experience.
In addition to these tips, here are some practical ideas and suggestions to help you create your own New Year resolutions, if you haven’t already created them, that is.

  1. Drink and eat healthy  

Hydration and healthy food are key to a well nourished body. You can’t expect to tap into your best cognitive capacities using bad fuel. Mind and body work synergistically and interdependently. Make it one of your new year’s resolutions to be mindful of what you eat. I have recently read a book on mindful eating by Jan Chozen Bays which I believe you will find helpful in this regard.

 2. Keep fit 

Keep fit (not thin) because it is healthy. Unfortunately, the commercial hype surrounding the concept of fitness has made several people shun away from it all together. At its core, fitness is the basic ability to maintain a physically (as well as cognitively) functional body. You don’t need to follow any so-called ‘fitness guru’ to attain this goal. A minimum of 20 minutes walk per day is scientifically proven to have major health benefits from boosting the immune system to countering weight promoting genes.

 4. Read books 

Reading takes you places you would have never visited and allows you to live vicarious experiences beyond your wildest dreams. Reading also expands and enriches your knowledge repertoire and makes you wiser. The key to developing a strong reading habit is, as the saying goes, to read what you love until you love to read. Make a reading plan, for instance, reading one book a month, 12 books a year, or any other plan that suits you and stick to it.

Start easy and build your reading stamina and before you know books will become your best companion. Audiobooks are key in this regard. They allow you to listen to books anywhere anytime. You can play your favorite book while driving, commuting to work, traveling, waiting in a waiting room, while working out, etc. 

Any situation where there is dead time, audiobooks can fill it. I highly recommend Audible. This is definitely one of the best providers of audiobooks and podcasts. I have been using it religiously since 2019 and I love it. This year alone I listened to 100 audiobooks. 

Anytime I hit that treadmill, running outside, or driving, chances are an audiobook is playing in my ears. I especially love the bookmarking feature in Audible. You can easily bookmark sections you like and access them individually on your device or computer.

 5. Stay positive 

Make it a habit to approach life from a positive perspective. Each time you wake up or before you go to bed at night (or both), take 10 or 15 minutes to meditate, relax, and destress. You can use apps such as Headspace and Calm to help you with mindfulness activities. Think about the things you are grateful for and fill your heart with forgiveness and empathy. 

Life is indeed too short to be wasted on personal grudges and animosities. Your stay in this world is transitory and you need to make the best of it and live your life to the fullest. Cherish the time you have with your family and loved ones, help others when and if you can, engage in volunteer work, and make your mind a nourishing environment for positive thoughts because at the end of the day you are what you think.

 6. Spend more time outdoor 

Embrace nature for it has incredible healing powers. The health benefits of ecotherapy or green therapy, that is the practice of spending time in nature with the purpose of improving mental and cognitive health and overall well being, is well documented in the medical literature

A simple walk in a local green park can do wonders to your mental health. Make spending time in nature one of your new year’s resolutions and work towards making nature a trusted friend you can always fall back on anytime you need it.

 7. Go to bed early and wake up early 

Sound sleep has huge health benefits as it is the time when the cells of our body regenerate and our internal systems do the clean-up work. Yet, for many people sleep does not figure among priorities. People are caught up with the exigencies of the day to day life trying to catch up with everything even when catching up means truncating hours from their night sleep.

Lack of sufficient sleep can sometimes trigger acute mood swings and lead to hasty decisions. It can severely undermine one’s risk assessment skills and decision making abilities.

Make it one of your new year’s resolutions to do your best to have quality sleep. Regulate your circadian rhythm by going to bed and waking up at the same hour every day including on weekends. To enhance the quality of your sleep, try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of night sleep. Sleep Education has this handy list of healthy sleep habits to help you enjoy quality shut-eye.

 8. Perform digital detox 

Certainly, technology has facilitated so many facets of our life from doing business to socializing and learning. Technology has become an important part of our life. We spend hours and hours interacting with our digital devices on a daily basis. 

For instance, Americans spend an average of seven and-a-half hours on their digital devices. Cultural critics have sounded the alarm about the cognitive damage caused by too much connectivity, least of which is reduced attention span and difficulty maintaining sustained focus.

Once in a while (may be once a week/or ten days) perform a digital detox (including social media detox). Take a break from your digital devices. Let your friends and family know about your digital detox so they don’t freak out when you disappear. 

The results of unplugging, according to Cleveland Clinic, are far reaching including sharp focus, less stress, better social interactions, more control of your time, enhanced productivity, and many more.

 9. Travel 

Travel takes you to new places, introduces you to new people, and helps you discover new cultures and ways of living. Most importantly, travel pushes you to step out of your comfort zone, a practice which can extrapolate to other spheres of your life allowing you to embrace new challenges and take a more daring approach to life.  This year is the year you take those places you always wanted to visit off your bucket list. Whether you go alone or accompanied, the important thing is to make and enjoy the move.

 10. Keep a journal  

I must admit, I am a journal addict. I have been journaling on a daily basis since I was a student in high school. It is a habit I picked up from mom. Over the years and with tons of wordage jotted down, I come to realize the importance of journaling in my life. 

In a cluttered world where everything seems to vie for our attention, journalling provides me with an intuitive space where I connect with my inner thoughts and reflect on my life, a refuge from the vicissitudes of the quotidian. Journalling frees me from the shackles of the mundane and helps me see things through my own frames. 

The benefits of journaling are well documented in the research literature. From easing out stress and depression to helping you focus and manage your life more effectively. If you are not already journalling, give it a try and make it one of your new year’s resolutions.