It's January 1st, and as the NYE hangover fades, a whole year stretches out before us. A blank canvas, the perfect chance for a fresh start. Turn over a new leaf. Figures show that 63% of us are planning to make at least one New Year's Resolution for 2016. Yet just on in 10 of us will manage to keep them. So here's a list of the top ten most popular New Year's Resolutions - and some tips on how to stick them out!
1. Do more exercise
Let’s face it, most of us would like to be a little fitter. OK, a lot fitter. And it’s well known gyms experience a spike in new memberships in January when the good-intentioned sign up en masse (much to the annoyance of gym regulars). Yet 37% of those who make this New Year’s Resolution will have given up by the end of January. And by April, 90% will have abandoned the treadmill for the sofa. The problem is, not everyone enjoys exercise or pumping iron down the gym. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Take up an energetic hobby you’ll enjoy instead, like dancing, or hiking. If you don’t normally exercise, something as simple as a ten-minute walk once a day will up your fitness. Start taking the stairs instead of the lift, or better yet, vow to tone up in the bedroom!
2. Lose Weight
After a Christmas of overindulgence it’s no surprise losing a few pounds is a popular choice. But promising yourself you’ll lose half your body weight in 2016, or be a size 10 by the summer? Let’s face it, it isn’t that easy. And there’s nothing worse than suddenly going carb-free, spending a week living on green shakes or cabbage soup before falling off the wagon and diving face first into a family size bag of crisps. Before long you’ve put back on the weight you lost, and some. Smaller goals are the key here. Vow to lose those Christmas pounds first. Cut out chocolate during the week, or ditch the odd glass of wine. Start small, and you’re far more likely to achieve your goals.
3. Improve diet
Yes, yes, yes. We all know we should eat healthier. ‘Eat Clean’ the health nuts would tell us. But Sunday’s wouldn’t be the same without that bacon sarnie, or greasy fry up. And there’s not a chance we’re going to be able to give up chocolate. No. Way. Don’t try and convince yourself you suddenly love nibbling on celery or that a lack lustre plate of steamed fish and brown rice is just what you fancied for dinner. Again – small changes will make all the difference. Switch one unhealthy food a day for a piece of fruit or handful of nuts. Cook more meals from scratch. You’ll soon notice the difference. Get a mate on board too – you’ll spur each other on and find it easier to stay on target.
4. Save more money
A survey has revealed that not saving more money tops the list of Brit’s greatest regrets. Making a conscious decision to change this is admirable. But you’re unlikely to be able to change your spending habits completely overnight. And bar a surprise New Year’s pay rise, you’re not suddenly going to be able to put aside an extra few hundred quid every month. Try cutting out one excess at a time. Like buying a morning coffee, or that expensive face cream. Start a change jar at home. If everyone pops in their spare change, you’ll hardly notice it. Yet when you count it up at the end of the month, you may be pleasantly surprised. Put it in a savings scheme and you’ll soon have the beginnings of a nice little nest egg.
5. Pursue a career ambition
On average, 17% of us wish we’d pushed ourselves harder in our chosen career. But vowing to be CEO or managing director by the end of the year is like trying to climb a mountain blindfolded. Set realistic goals. Take a course, spruce up your CV, spend less time procrastinating and more time brainstorming ideas. You’ll soon be edging towards that promotion, new job or business opportunity.
6. Give up smoking
Let’s be honest, most smokers know they should give up. But those who go cold turkey on January 1st will probably quickly find themselves having the odd crafty fag before they’re back to their ten a day habit. For most, quitting smoking isn’t something you can do on a whim just because it’s New Year’s Day. Speak to your doctor, get advice, put a proper plan in place to help you through the cravings.
7. Decorate the house
It’s a New Year, and suddenly you think you’re Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. You can completely do-up the house, adding thousands to its value in the process. And it sounds really, really fun, looking at paint swatches, Googling rustic antique furniture and shabby chic decor. But your enthusiasm is bound to peter out when you realise the enormity of sanding down everything, scraping off four layers of wallpaper and spending weekends sweating over a bucket of paint. Maybe start with a spring clean? Then try tackling the smallest room. That way your don’t end up spending the next ten years living in a house full of unfinished DIY projects.
8. Take up a new hobby
We’ve all been there. Decided this is the year to learn a new language, become an expert guitar player, hula-hoopist. But all that new and expensive equipment usually ends up gathering dust somewhere. But maybe this is a resolution to stick with! So you’ll probably have given up by mid January, but you never know. One year you may discover your hidden talent, your gift for stand up comedy, or realise you’re a world-class unicyclist!
9. Cut down drinking
Always a popular one! Especially as that New Year’s Eve hangover is playing havoc with your stomach and your head’s pounding like a heavy metal drummer has taken residence. And why not give dry January a go? Even if you don’t quite make it, a few weeks off the sauce will do you good. But if you really want to stick to this one, you don’t have to give up booze altogether. Stick to a few sensible rules. Give yourself a two or three drink limit unless it’s a big celebration, have a few days off after a night of drinking, and never drink alone.
10. Do more charity work
A noble New Year’s Resolution. But sadly one that rarely gets off the ground. Like always with resolutions people aim too big. Volunteering two nights a week at a soup kitchen, spending every Wednesday at an old people’s home, or lending your professional services for free to a charity is a big step and in the end you’ll probably keep putting it off or give up. But there are lots of things you can do to help that are quick and easy to fit into your usual routine. Give blood, sign up as an organ donor or donate something to a food bank every time you do weekly shop. You can even join two or more New Year’s Resolutions together. Sign up to an event, like a 5k run, in aid of a charity. Lose weight, get fit, raise money for charity – all done with one simple act.
Do you usually manage to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions?