Ahhh… a new year brimming with chances to start anew, cast off bad habits, and be a little more like we’d like to be! Maybe you’re tired of your jeans cutting off circulation to your legs. Maybe you’ve felt guilty about sneaking an extra brownie from time to time. Maybe you feel this bank robbery thing has just gotten out of hand. Whatever your shortcomings, the beginning of a new year can be a great time to decide to be better. And you certainly won’t be alone.

Studies show that Americans are more resolution-conscious than ever, with the practice of setting resolutions being far more prevalent than people who actually know the words to that New Years song. Although we come from diverse backgrounds, it seems our shortcomings have a lot in common. Following are the top five most common New Years resolutions:

1. Get in shape/Lose Weight – What do you get when you combine an increasingly image-conscious society and the most overweight population on earth? You get a lot of people wishing they weren’t so fat, that they had those abs, or that they could slip into those size 2 jeans. Throw in growing volumes of evidence that being overweight poses serious health risks, and you get even more people scared to death to be fat. The result: every year the majority of us resolve to lose weight and get in shape.

Some people will take on exotic diets or rigorous exercise routines. Some will only sit and think about how great it would be to be thin (as they pound down another triple fudge sundae). And still others will take a very methodical, sustainable approach, gradually increasing their exercise while gradually reducing their calories consumed. Most who resolve to get in shape this year will fail, either burning themselves out in the first few months or never getting off the sofa. The few who do reach their goals usually do so by taking a sustainable, long-term approach.

2. Quit _________ – Vices. We all have them. They come in a myriad of forms: tobacco, alcohol, Whoppers, soap operas, etc. They are all alike in that they are bad for you, at least in excess. When you need to kick the habit, you usually know deep down inside. You can no longer recite the alphabet from memory, for example. Or, in another example, your planner is filled with only two activities: work and feeding your vice (with work soon to be removed from the picture).

When you exhibit these symptoms, it’s time to drop that bad habit like… well, like a bad habit. Many resolution-setters will accomplish this by abstinence, going cold turkey, etc. Many find it helpful to remove themselves from the situations where they used to indulge in their vice. For instance, if you are trying to give up drinking, stop visiting the pub. If you are trying to break away from Days of Our Lives, don’t sit in front of the TV at noon every day waiting to be tempted. It helps significantly to fill the void left by your vice with something else. You know, like smokers chewing gum or Jenny Jones addicts going back to school. If you’re addicted to video games, sell your console and buy some good books.

New Years is a great time to get rid of that excess baggage slowing you down.

3. Get organized If, like many Americans, you feel your life is out of control, getting organized in the coming year may be the right resolution for you. The first of the year just happens to be a very convenient time to do so. All calendars start at January 1st. You have a well-placed vacation to take a break from running around like a headless chicken and get your act together. Be warned, however: once school and work start up again you have lost your chance to get your bearings. Therefore, get a planner and get in control early before things get hectic again.

Many find it helpful to buy a calendar, a planner, labels, etc., something tangible to remind them of and help to fulfill their goal. The most crucial component of organization is making it part of your routine. After all, being organized can’t be accomplished in one fell swoop. The universe and your life have an annoying tendency to get disorganized. You know, the law of entropy and all that. Things that you organize today will inevitably get disorganized later. Thus, organization needs to be done on a regular basis. For instance, you may decide to make Sunday night ‘Planning Night’, when you find a quiet place to sit down with your planner and map out your week. Saturdays may be set aside for cleaning and organizing your house. Consistent maintenance is the key here.

One more caveat: beware of over-scheduling yourself. Time is a limited asset. Filling your planner with too many extemporaneous activities can quickly rob you of any time you would have to organize or plan. Honestly ask yourself what activities are necessary, what activities you would like to do, and what activities are just draining your time. And be realistic about how much time you allot for each activity.

4. Get out of debt Nothing drains your bank account and good spirits like debt. The holiday shopping spree does little to alleviate this burden. So, once January 1 rolls around and the credit card statements start arriving in the mail, a vast number of Americans first almost faint from shock and then resolve to tighten their belts and overcome that harsh captor Debt.

A variety of tools exist to help people with overwhelming debt: debt consolidation services, setting strict budgets, living scarcely, downgrading in the car or house department. All approaches, unless they are trying to pull something over on you, involve a great deal of discipline and determination. Changing one’s spending habits can mean changing one’s lifestyle altogether, which, of course, is worth being free to keep your money and know that, in the event of economic hardship, you will not be taken to the cleaners by the credit card companies.

5. Get a better job Being in a job you hate or that isn’t taking you anywhere can have a serious impact on your personal well-being. We always want to feel like we’re going somewhere, that things are getting better. It’s no wonder then that millions of Americans resolve to leave their stale jobs behind for greener pastures. Many will find a better job. Others will improve their education with the goal of attaining better employment.

About the author Marcus Varner earned his BA in English from Brigham Young University with a Creative Writing emphasis. He is currently in his second year at BYU’s lauded MBA program studying Marketing. He blogs, writes fiction and screenplays, loves movies, and can’t resist playing superheroes with his kids.

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One comment on “Top 5 New Years Resolutions

  • Organization is the key to freeing up time. If a regular workout is difficult to fit into your schedule keep in mind that the commute to the gym takes on average 20 minutes each way. With a home gym you could have finished your workout by then. Time management is the key!

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