3 New Year’s resolutions you can actually accomplish
Trenton Sperry/The Tribune (Greeley, CO)

27 December 2014

New Year’s resolutions are often tied to goals to improve some facet of our lives, but they tend to go by the wayside when the going gets tough.

Here are three New Year’s resolutions you can accomplish and tips to make sure you don’t shrug them off after a few weeks.

Lose weight

It’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions and one of the hardest to follow through on.

Katie Kage, coordinator of fitness and wellness at the University of Northern Colorado’s Campus Recreation Center, said weight-loss goals often get dropped because people set rigid benchmarks.

“I think people make a big, lofty goal to lose 50 pounds or something,” Kage said. “Instead, they should have small goals, or one big goal with small action steps.”

The trick, Kage said, is to commit to losing something like 15 pounds, then putting together a plan to achieve that. It’s also a good idea to ease into a goal, and this is especially true with exercise.

“It may be that you work out three times per week instead of five times,” she said. “They should really have a plan that’s going to work for them.”

Kage said it’s also difficult to go it alone. If you’re the only person you have to answer to, you’re more likely to let things slide.

“Have some kind of accountability,” she said, “whether that’s a partner with the same goal or someone who can or help you with small steps. It’s best if it’s someone who is committed to the same lifestyle change.”

Most importantly, Kage said, if you stumble once, don’t let that be a reason to give up entirely.

“Don’t live in that all or nothing mindset,” she said. “I think it’s good for people to be kind with themselves. Understand that it’s not a perfect road. If things don’t do as well one day, let that go. There’s always the next meal, the next evening, the next day.”

Manage your money

Setting a goal to better balance your finances can lead to less stress now and in the future.

Katie Bossler, a financial counselor for the GreenPath Financial Wellness, said there are a few ways to make sure you and your bank account are happier in 2015.

“The new year is a great time to take a fresh look at finances,” Moore said. “Look at your income first to get a true idea of your net income for the month. Look at real numbers, not estimates.

“Then look at your expenses, in particular the fixed bills you have each month. My suggestion is to plan where every dollar you make is going so it balances down to zero.”

Once a budget has been set and adhered to, Moore said it’s best to begin saving immediately.

“People will have numbers in their head for how much they want to save, but how do you get there? Maybe with baby steps,” she said.

Moore recommends finding the amount of money you can set aside from each paycheck without really noticing, and letting the money accrue in a savings account.

“A savings account is best because it’s often something you don’t have as much access to,” she said. “You’re also not looking at it as much.”

If debt is an issue, Moore said there’s one thing you can do from the outset that will help your situation.

“Stop charging,” she said. “You can get caught up in interest rates without realizing it. You’ve got to stop the bleeding first, so stop using those credit cards.”

Dawn Strohecker, a financial adviser at Edward Jones in Greeley, also has a couple tips for managing your finances once you’re on better footing.

“First, try to fill gaps in your investment portfolio,” Strohecker said. “If you think you are making insufficient progress on a key goal, such as saving for your children’s college education, you may need to put more resources into this area.”

Second, she said, focus on your retirement plan — especially if a pay raise is on the horizon. This can be done by increasing the contributions you make to a 401(k) or similar plan.

Volunteer

Lending a helping hand with local nonprofits can boost your sense of self-worth and help foster a feeling of community.

Tom Fasano, director of marketing and communications at the United Way of Weld County, said there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing where to help.

“Make sure you like the mission,” Fasano said. “And make sure the organization gives you clear guidance on your role and the benefits that you’ll bring to the organization.”

With that, Fasano said it’s important to bring up your own ideas for volunteering.

“Look for things to do,” he said. “Bring all of your gifts to the volunteer position so you can look at the position through all your lenses of abilities.”

Helping out for free isn’t all fun and games. Nevertheless, Fasano said it’s important to keep in mind you are making a difference.

“You might be asked to do something menial or complicated,” he said. “Be flexible.”

To move past that stage, Fasano said, it’s important to prove your dedication to the group.

“Make a six-month commitment to the organization,” he said. “If you make that commitment, the organization will make an investment in you. They’ll know you’re in it for the long haul.”

SIDEBAR - Five tips for completing your New Year’s resolution

Whatever your goal may be for 2015, here are five tips that will help you stay with it until the end.

Set up small steps along the way. This will help you keep focus on your overall resolution while seeing real progress as you go. It will keep you from being overwhelmed at the effort required to stick to something for an entire year.

Be flexible. If you miss a benchmark or break down when your eyes meet that chocolate cake in the breakroom, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Changing your routine requires a lifestyle change, and that doesn’t happen overnight.

Be held accountable. Tell a friend or coworker about your resolution so they can check up on your progress. Plus, they just might join you in your new crusade.

Document your progress. Take a picture or write a journal or blog entry every time you accomplish one of your benchmarks. When you struggle to continue, this can help you gain new motivation as you look back at how far you’ve come.

Reward yourself. You’re making a change in your life, and that’s no easy feat. When you’ve mastered one of the steps, give yourself some positive reinforcement. This can help you look forward to the next time you’re successful.