As the clean slate of a New Year beckons, it is only natural that our brains start brewing up big, bold resolutions aimed at transforming our lives. As well-intentioned as these goals may be, they are equally as unrealistic, which leads to forsaken resolutions. The University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology reports that only 46 percent of resolutions made each year make it past the six-month mark. So how can you come out on the winning side? Some psychologists suggest setting sensible, easy-to-achieve goals that can be incorporated without major lifestyle changes.
Here are 10 bite-sized resolutions—with a high-stickability factor—that you can implement for a happier, healthier 2014:
1) Rise early. The brain is highly receptive to new ideas at the start of the day. In addition, more can be accomplished before the day’s distractions begin to slow you down (think: children).
2) Eat breakfast. Feasting first thing revitalizes the body for the day and will prevent you from mindless munching and mealtime binging.
3) Mix more physical activity into each day. Studies show that physical activity energizes the body, elevates the mood and produces deeper sleep cycles. You don’t have to train for a marathon or join a gym to add more activity to your life. Just take the stairs, park farther from your destination and gather the family for a post-dinner Wii Fit hula-hoop contest. Or maybe opt to walk or ride a bike to one destination a week.
4) Drink more water. Think of water as a “nutrient” the body needs to function at its best. Staying hydrated helps your skin and reduces muscle fatigue. It may also curtail your desire to snack because dehydration is often mistaken for hunger.
5) Teach your children and/or spouse one household chore…then relinquish responsibility. Children as young as four can unload utensils from the dishwasher, 8-year-olds can be taught to assist with laundry, and kids over 10 can easily wipe down the bathroom sink, wash windows and sweep up messes.
6) Tackle correspondence daily. Don’t let email or postal mail pile up in your inbox or on your counter, only to become an overwhelming, time-consuming mess.
7) Practice gratitude. Studies show that gratitude-practitioners possess higher levels of positive emotions. Gratitude journals are all the rage, but you don’t have to commit to a practice that robust. Spend five minutes at the end of each day—perhaps as you drift off to sleep—naming things in your life that make you feel grateful.
8) Cook at home. Make a point to eat in more often—you will refresh your cooking skills while saving money. Plus, home cooking oftentimes is healthier than what you would have ordered at a restaurant.
9) Schedule free time for yourself. Power down your phone, get off social networking sites and make yourself “unavailable” to the outside world. You are not going to benefit from responding immediately to every text or email. But you WILL benefit from taking a technology timeout.
10) Connect—in person—with your spouse/partner daily. Start the day by sipping coffee on the couch together or check in at the end of the day with a few minutes of quiet cuddle time. Dedicating time each day to your relationship will have lasting effects on the family as a whole.