Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I have plenty of verbal gaffes that plague me at random moments. There was the time that I exclaimed with joy over a friends obvious pregnancy and I very quickly learned that she wasn’t pregnant at all. Or the time where I let my bawdy sense of humor (which I normally try to reserve for friends and family) out at my husbands office Christmas party. And even though those moments happened years ago, they can pop up at unexpected quiet times in my head bringing with it a cringe just as potent as when it first happened. And I’ve realized that I don’t like the feeling of living with regrets. Now is the time of year where it’s traditional to examine the last 12 months of our lives and implement some changes for the upcoming year. It’s a time where regrets can hit hard if we let them, unless we choose to look at them a different way; a way in which they spur us on to change in the next year.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions and most of us set the bar too high only to end up defeated. It’s the little changes that stick. Whether it’s finances, relationships, or our health we can all make lasting changes if we know how to make reasonable goals. Here are some things to get you thinking about how to make small changes in the New Year that you’ll be able to follow through on and have no regrets.
When you look at your spending habits over the last year did you save as much as you wanted? Did you increase your debt? Don’t regret your mistakes just make some small changes. Make a decision to cut up one of your credit cards and pay it off this year. How about building your savings up by purposing to set aside a percentage of each paycheck. Nothing’s too small. You could start with 2% of a $2500 per month income and have yourself a $900 nest egg by the end of the year to be used for a vacation, emergency fund or a debt free Christmas. Or you could try making a budget for 2011. Stretching yourself a bit is great. Expecting yourself to save 50% of your paycheck when it’s your first time trying to save is only going to make you frustrated and ensure that you are not going to reach your goal. So make sure you’re setting yourself up to win.
When you look back over your year did you spend as much time with your kids as you wanted to? Did you let people know how much they meant to you? Was your marriage strained and in need of a little more TLC? We get so busy at our house with sports and school and work that it’s hard for us to eat a meal together. We’ve decided that we won’t let a day go by without sitting around the table for at least one meal as a family. Whether that means breakfast, lunch or dinner, we are going to make an effort to eat, talk and look each other in the eyes for at least that 15-30 minutes every day. Maybe you need to make sure that you have a regular date night with your spouse or have a family game night once a month. Or when you think nice things about someone, speak up. Give them a call or send an email to let them know rather than keeping it to yourself. Those are simple, doable things that you can accomplish this year.
Diet and exercise are the biggies when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. Ask any diet company or exercise teacher when their busiest time of the year is and they’ll probably tell you January. But the majority of us tend to set huge goals in this area and then fizzle out after a few weeks. Why not set some realistic goals? Decide to take a 30 minute walk three times a week. Make a point of drinking eight 8oz glasses of water everyday. Exchange your late night soda and chips snack with a piece of fruit and a glass of sparkling water. Any one of these changes will improve your health. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change to have a positive impact on your body.
Simple changes for the New Year can bring about a much more realistic outcome than grandiose schemes can. With a little bit of self examination and some realistic changes our lives can improve from year to year. So take a few moments to look back and see what you’d like to do different and then take small steps forward. Improvement is something you’ll never regret.