We’ve all heard people make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, lose ten pounds, get back to a size 6 or a 32-inch waist. But forget those resolutions: how many, after all, have you made and broken? Instead of worrying about the number on the scale or a nebulous goal that’s hard to ever achieve, resolve to do something real, something exciting, something quantifiable. Here are ten New Year’s resolutions that have nothing to do with the number on the scale or your pants tag.
Resolution #1: Take a Class
Adults often stick with the things we do well. I’m a lawyer, and I know plenty of lawyers who don’t do anything but work. I find that these people often take themselves very seriously. Trying something new and different can help keep you fresh, not to mention that it makes you more open to new experiences. Sign up for a Dabble class to learn something new like glass blowing, fiction writing, golf, or cooking. Discount sites like LivingSocial, Gilt City, and Groupon offer discounts for all sorts of experiences.
Resolution #2: Write Something
Many of us get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of our jobs that we don’t take the time to write creatively. Start a blog showcasing one of your skills — cooking blogs are fun to write and read, or you can start a blog chronicling your new year’s resolutions! If you have a child in the family, write and self-publish a children’s book for his or her next birthday. Check out Story Jumper, which allows you to write your own children’s book and get a hard-cover version for as little as $25.
Resolution #3: Drink your Water
You’ve heard that you need to drink more water. Water is great for your skin, helps speed digestion and elimination, keeps your appetite in check, helps you avoid dehydration-induced headaches, and (for some people) can give you more energy than coffee. Resolve to drink more water, and get some help with it: buy a nice glass water bottle like the ones from Lifefactory, and download an app that helps you track your water intake. My favorite is Waterlogged. How much water should you aim to drink? 80 oz per day is a good place to start, you can build up to a gallon a day if that’s working out!
Resolution #4: Just Dance
Dance is a fun way to work out and appreciate your body for its flexibility and movement. Try a Zumba class for a fun workout that doesn’t feel like one. There are also adult ballet, tap, and belly dancing classes offered in many cities. And what if you’re a terrible dancer? Sign up with a friend and laugh your way through the class. The hour will pass before you know it. Bonus points: if you’re going to a wedding or holiday party this year, get out on the dance floor, even if you normally don’t. After a minute of feeling awkward, you’ll feel happy and free.
Resolution #5: Surprise Someone
This year, resolve to send flowers or a small gift to your closest friends for their birthdays. Set up a calendar alert for one week before each friend’s birthday, and send a surprise! Or sign on to a flower-delivery site (like FTD.com) and set up reminders which can be delivered straight to your email inbox, often accompanied by a discount. Check out a deal website like Brad’s Deals to find coupons which make this a more affordable idea. You can also surprise friends on their anniversaries, or bring a little present to your spouse on your way home from work. Seeing the joy in someone else’s face — or over the phone or via email — will make your day, too.
Resolution #6: Get Flexible
Those of us who work out regularly know about setting goals. A 100-lb bench press, 20 push-ups in a row, you know the drill. But it’s easy to neglect stretching, even though it can prevent injury and help you get more out of your workouts. Set a goal for yourself: do the splits both ways, do a backbend, alleviate chest tightness. This image shows 13 different stretches, twice a week, at the end of your workout, hold each stretch for 20 seconds, then take a 10 second break, then stretch for 20 more seconds. You’ll be done in less than 15 minutes, and you’ll see your flexibility improving quickly.
Resolution #7: Add some Technology to your Routine
There are tons of great new gadgets that can help you get the most out of your workouts, food choices, and daily routine. The Nike FuelBand tracks your activity throughout the day, including how many calories you’ve burned and how many steps you’ve taken. Plug it into your computer to see your progress, set goals, and more. It’s a low-profile band that you wear on your wrist and can even substitute for a watch. Download an app like the SparkPeople app, which helps you to track your food and exercise, or DailyBurn, which serves the same purpose but is focused more on exercise. Push-up Wars is a great app from DailyBurn that allows you to track your push-ups and compete with others.
Resolution #8: Eat your Veggies
Sure, you know it’s important to eat vegetables. They contain a ton of vitamins and fiber, and they fill you up with a lot of bang for your caloric buck. But resolving to eat more veggies can make “Eat your veggies!” a fun game. SparkPeople has a quick tracker for fruit and veggie consumption. The Munch 5 a Day app has tons of features, including goal setting and graphs of your progress. Another option is to print out a daily calendar, which you can hang on your fridge or in your office, ticking off each day that you reach your veggie-consumption goal.
Resolution #9: Donate
Giving to others can be even more rewarding than receiving things yourself; just think back a week or two to the holidays and remember how great you felt giving someone something they were excited to use! Go through your closet, gather the clothes you no longer wear, and donate them to a local shelter or organization. Or, set up a monthly recurring donation to a charitable organization of your choice. The ASPCA and the American Red Cross are on my list. You can also donate blood through the American Red Cross to help people who’ve suffered traumatic injuries, are undergoing surgery, or require periodic blood transfusions. You can also donate your time by volunteering at a homeless shelter, women’s shelter, or your local church.
Resolution #10: Get Back in Touch
Have a family member or old friend you’ve lost touch with? Reach out! Send a card or an email, schedule coffee or drinks with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, call a relative. Reaching out will enrich your life and remind the people you love that you still care. Building and sustaining friendships and other relationships will make you feel great, too.
What New Year’s resolution are you making this year? How are you going to make 2013 your best year yet? I want to hear about them!
Guest Post by Rachel Mac. Find her on Facebook.