The dreaded question - what are your new year resolutions? This question should be banned at all water coolers, social media threads and definitely family get-togethers. No matter how much the thought of New Year resolutions causes almost unanimous groaning, we continue to make them.
According to History.com, we have the ancient Babylonians to thank for this tradition. They are thought to be the first people to make New Year’s resolutions about 4,000 years ago. They made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our new year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
(I think many people would be more motivated to stick with their resolutions if the consequence of missing a day at the gym was a lightning bolt striking them down!)
According to a more recent study, as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year resolutions, However, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. 209 Magazine asked local experts to offer some tips and tricks on how to get started achieving those resolutions.
Get fit/healthy/lose weight
Getting healthy is a common New Year’s resolution, but it’s much easier said than done. 209 Magazine asked Erin Bashaw, DNP, MSN, RN, Director of Multi-Specialty Nursing and Weight Loss Surgery for Doctors Hospital of Manteca, for some advice on how to make healthy changes in 2023. Here is what she said:
209 Magazine: How do you recommend those looking to get fit in the New Year start working towards that goal?
Bashaw: Set small achievable goals and do one goal a week. Each week add a new goal. If your goal for the New Year is to eat healthier, start by eliminating one food or drink item that you know you should avoid. For example, soda can be loaded with sugar and hard on the digestive system. Start by eliminating soda and instead drink water. If you are missing the bubbles in soda, try sparkling waters. When we start with small goals and we achieve them, we are much more likely to stick with our plan. Another great example to eat healthier is to food prep at least two meals a week. When you plan your meals, you are less likely to eat unhealthier choices.
209 Magazine: What things should people avoid when making a fitness plan?
Bashaw: I love this one! Every year people tell themselves they are going to join the gym and workout every day. Gyms can be expensive and let’s face it – crowded in the New Year. Instead, use some space in your house or in your neighborhood to do a quick internet workout. There are literally thousands of easy do it at home ten minutes or less workouts for all intensity levels. I do squats in my kitchen waiting for my coffee to brew and 8lb weights in my closet when I am figuring out what to wear. I used to use 5lb weights but they got too easy. See success – goal achieved. I also track how far I walk every day on my smartphone. My goal is 10,000 steps a day.
Again it comes down to setting small achievable goals AND doing what works best for you in the time you have to exercise. I have a co-worker who uses a foot pedal bike under her desk while she works. If you have not hit the gym all year, start with putting on some good shoes and going for a walk. Set small goals and the big rewards will come later.
209 Magazine: Are there ways for people to keep their motivation as the months go on?
Bashaw: The best way to stay motivated is to feel successful. You want to set yourself up for success so that you continue to feel motivated. How many times have you told yourself you are going to lose weight? You lose a few pounds but then gain it back and feel discouraged and may even give up. Setting small goals is the best way to achieve them and move forward feeling empowered. Start with a goal of 5 pounds in one month. It does not seem like much but 5 pounds a month for four months is 20 pounds. You can keep the momentum going if you feel good about your personal accomplishments and feel the physical benefits. The loss of just a few pounds can make people feel so much better physically and emotionally.
The new year is as good a time as any to get organized, according to Renewed Order owner Amethyst Reyes.
“I hear all too often of the overwhelm, anxiety, and stress our clients experience daily from the clutter and disorganization in their homes. The time spent finding the kids missing shoes, husband’s xyz, and car keys along with the money lost buying multiples of misplaced items will never be reclaimed,” she said.
Making time, rationalizing purging, and getting the whole family on board is a daunting task. But, according to Reyes, the weight lifted off your shoulders, the increased time there is to spend doing what is enjoyed, and lack of hearing “mom where is my…”, is an investment well deserved.
Reyes said the most common areas she finds clients struggling with are those that contain sentimental items or high traffic areas such the entryway. With that said, here are three practical tips to get your 2023 organizing goals started:
- Just like any other goal, make this a priority, be realistic and stick to it! Designate a set amount of time each day/week to purge and organize.
- Analyze what is and isn’t working for your family and why. Create systems around your current habits/routines. For example: if your family takes their shoes off in the garage don’t create a space in their closets. Instead create a system in the garage that is cute and functional.
- Choose small areas first. Ones that you have minimal attachment to, such as a junk drawer, medicine cabinet, or linen closet. This will give you the momentum and confidence you need to tackle the bigger areas.
- Set a timer! Don’t allow yourself to leave that area until the timer goes off. This will hold you accountable and keep focus. Be sure to allow time to tidy up and put away items that have a home.
“Remember, it has taken time to get this messy so it will take time to get it all in order,” said Reyes.
Save more money
For many people, getting a better handle on their finances is their main goal. This resolution can seem overwhelming, but there are free tools out there that can help. The website consumer.gov offers tips on managing your money, information on credit, loans and debt, ways to avoid scams and identity theft and a toolbox of other informational resources like how to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry and where to get a free credit report.
Consumer.gov offers these tips for saving money:
• For one month, write down everything you spend. Small expenses, like a cup of coffee, can add up to a lot of money. When you know where you are spending your money, you can decide what you might not want to buy.
• Pay with your credit card only if you can pay the full amount when the bill comes. That way, you do not pay interest on what you owe.
• Pay your bills when they are due. That way, you will not owe late fees or other charges.
• Keep the money you are saving separate from the money you spend.
• Consider opening a savings account in a bank or credit union.
• If you keep cash at home, keep the money you are saving separate from your spending money. Keep all your cash someplace safe.
Reconnect with family and friends
Sometimes end-of-the-year reflection turns towards our personal relationships. The holidays oftentimes shine a light on the broken relationships in our lives, whether it’s family members who we’re feuding with or friendships that have gone to the wayside due to neglect.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Jacob Hiykel said that first step in reconnection is to first identify what caused the break in the relationship and then reach out.
“Open communication is important in any relationship. When a person has a feeling they wish to communicate, they trust it will be received in the way they intended. With a polarizing world climate, there has been a breakdown in communication among family members and friends based on values and beliefs surrounding COVID, politics, the environment, etc. In my work with individuals, I have seen lifelong friendships end and family members cut ties with each other based on their values and beliefs on these topics alone,” said Hiykel.
Hiykel said not communicating wants and needs can often lead to anger.
“Respect is a key unmet want or need on any value or belief where you may not feel the same. It is a common value most people share; however, when we feel disrespected it can lead to arguments or fights which then causes the disconnect. We all want respect, but it is also a value we should provide to others even if we have differences of opinions. This will allow us to reconnect or maintain the current connections we value with friends and family,” he said.
Hiykel’s number one suggestion for people wanting to connect with family or friends in 2023 is to convey your desire to spend time with the ones you love and then have no expectation outside of this.
“Make your specific want or need to connect known; then leave it to the other person to respond. Having no expectation is important, because if there is an expectation, that the other person cannot meet (based on values, beliefs etc.), then instead of reconnection, there will be cause for the disconnect to remain. They will either respond with a similar want or desire, or they simply will not,” he said.
Hiykel said if your family member or friends doesn’t respond, be satisfied that you communicated your desire to spend time with them. If they choose to not put as much effort or value on spending time together, then remember that is their choice, and you can then put effort into relationships with people who value your time and space.
For professional help with relationships, contact Hiykel at (209) 485-7471 or Jhiykel@protonmail.com.