Someone once said a New Year's resolution is something that 'goes in one year and out the other'. How true.
As sure as night follows day, each year as a new year approaches, millions around the world put together their list of New Year's resolutions, adamant that this year for sure they will stick to them.
But after all that perfect penmanship, before you realise it, a new year is rolling around and you suddenly remember 'the list'. And so … the cycle begins once again.
Here, experts look at the Top Ten Most Popular New Year's Resolutions and give their advice on how to smash that cycle to pieces and for once actually achieve those ever elusive goals.- Anastasia Cunningham
And just in case you thought otherwise, having hundreds of Twitter followers and more Facebook friends than the founder is not considered spending quality time with family and friends.
More and more persons are now desiring that human contact.
According to Dr Barry Davidson, family psychologist and chief executive officer of Family Life Ministries, to achieve this you have to put together a decisive plan.
"A New Year resolution has to be more than an idea, more than something I would like to do, more than a hope or dream. For it to become a reality, you have to plan it," he told The Gleaner.
Davidson said sitting down with loved ones and identifying an evening dedicated to family time and committing to it is the first step.
2. Get physically fit
For most persons, putting down the remote and that bowl of popcorn and cold beverage and getting off the couch is harder than letting go of their first love.
Merrick Watson, fitness trainer at RIPT Gym, advises to turn every activity into a form of exercise.
"If you are cleaning, washing the car, anything that requires physical activity, put a lot of effort into it and tell yourself that this is a form of exercise, work up a sweat, use up your muscles, turn everything physical you do into a form of exercise," said Watson.
But it was just as important to make time for a more dedicated exercise programme, he said. For instance, taking 10 minutes off watching TV or talking on the phone to walk around the house, skip or do sit ups. Getting up earlier in the mornings or adding some extra time to your evening schedule for a 30-minute walk is also quite doable.
However, Watson said going to the gym to work with a specialised trainer would be more ideal.
3. Lose weight
'I Want To Lose Weight' has been the number-one song since time began. It has also been the most difficult for many to achieve. Nine out of 10 persons have losing weight on their New Year's resolution list year after year.
"First and foremost, you have to want this for you. Wanting to lose weight and get fit first starts in your mind. You have to see yourself as the star player. You have to want it for you and not just for showboating," stated Watson.
"Once you make that necessary mind-altering decision, then the next step is to see it as a lifetime goal, not short term; develop proper, healthy eating habits; cut down drastically on sweets and carbohydrates; do everything in moderation; and add some form of regular physical activity to your schedule."
He added: "It will not happen overnight, but once you start making these life-altering changes, you will find yourself getting more energised and motivated and confident to keep going and continue on that path."
The fitness trainer emphasised: "As I said, it is important to want it for you. If you don't, you will always come up with a lot of excuses why you can't do it."
4. Quit smoking
Sneaking off to get that nicotine high has been a thorn in the side of countless persons who keep promising themselves that this will be the 'last draw'. But the addictive nature of nicotine makes it quite difficult for many persons to quit cold turkey, stated Michael Tucker, executive director of National Council on Drug Abuse.
"It often requires professional help," he said.
"If persons are serious about quitting, they should get the necessary professional help, as well as engage in nicotine replacement therapy, such as the nicotine gum or patch or other things that would assist the process."
5. Enjoying life more
Who doesn't want this. Even the Grinch had his secret quirks … twisted as they were. But everyone craves to laugh a little more, loosen up a bit and just let their hair down, as the saying goes.
To achieve this, said Dr Barry Davidson, family psychologist and chief executive officer of Family Life Ministries, one has to purposely create that essential balance.
"Life is about balance, creating a balance in whatever you do. It is very important that in life we make adequate time for work, worship, family, friends, relaxation, socialisation, rest, recreation and fun, reading, stimulating our mind," he said.
He added: "So we have to examine ourselves to see if we are living a balanced life as much as possible and find time for these very important things. Identify the missing components and do what needs to be done to ensure that balance."
The family psychologist said humans are made up of mental, social, physical and spiritual, so they need to ensure that these parts of their programme were adequately developed in order to properly function.
6. Quit drinking
Tired of waking up after an alcoholic binge and feeling like your head is about to explode and, worse, you have no idea what lit that fuse?
Knowing your limitations and sticking to them is very important, said Tucker.
Equally important, he said, is knowing the alcoholic content of each drink you plan to consume."We say to persons, do everything in moderation. For instance, weekly alcohol consumption should be no more than 21 units of alcohol for a mature male and 14 units for a mature female, which would be equivalent to about two glasses of red or white wine five times a week or two beers five times a week. This is what we would consider manageable and not cause damage," he said.
7. Get out of debt/ start saving
Getting rid of those mounting debts and finally putting a little 'suppen suppen' aside each month is a dream millions would give their right arm to achieve. But giving up a body part isn't necessary. All it requires is some wise change of habits … and it would be less painful.
According to Deborah Vieira, wealth adviser at Stocks and Securities Limited, there are a few critical things persons can do to get themselves out of debt and start saving.
"First up, consolidate your loans from higher interest rates to what is current," she said.
"Go into your financial institution and renegotiate your loan. For example, I recently spoke with someone who had a mortgage at 15 per cent with one institution. I said to her, current mortgage was in the region of nine per cent, so I told her to go and renegotiate her mortgage rate and get it closer to market, and she did. She got it down to nine."
Another important thing to do, Vieira said, was to use debit cards instead of credit cards because credit-card interest rates are "phenomenally high".
"Try to work within budget by using your debit card. Also important, try to budget so that you don't go to the ATM every day because each time you go, for most institutions, there is a charge for withdrawing," she said.
"And use your own bank's ATM. Some people are not aware that it cost twice the amount to use another bank's ATM."
Vieira also advises persons to make more use of online banking instead of the financial or payment institutions, which is not only time consuming but attracts a fee.
Buying items wholesale and pooling with other persons to buy in bulk is another way of saving money, noted the wealth adviser.
Each year, we all want to learn something new and different to enrich our lives, like a new language or playing a musical instrument, but often it never happens.
"With resolutions, people tend to identify an area they are bad at, then they make a resolution to change it, but you really have to do some other things besides naming the resolution in order for you to change it," stated Dr Leahcim Semaj, chief ideator and resultant motivational speaker.
"First up, see yourself at the end of it. Why is it that you want to learn something new, in what way is that going to enrich your life."
He added: "Then reflect on it, dream about what it would be like to achieve that outcome, then put yourself in a situation that will increase the chance of that happening."
9. Become more charitable/help others
For many, there is no greater feeling in the world than doing something for someone else, with no expectation of something in return. Each year, they propose that this will be the year to give a helping hand to someone in need.
Having a willing heart, doing it with a spirit of love and a genuineness to want to help is the first step to achieving this resolution, stated Major Stanley Griffin, divisional commander with The Salvation Army.
"Doing something not with the aim of being remunerated makes making that first step much easier. Seeing it as your contribution to society to help others, with that love for mankind and people," he said.
Griffin advises persons struggling with a busy schedule to explore the various areas that they can offer help, make contact with that organisation to see how best they can fit in with the programme and work out a time that will fit in with their schedule.
10. Get organised
Every year, you look at that clutter you call an office or storage room or garage and you faithfully promise that this will be the year you will put it all in a neat, organised system. But that's easier said than done.
Dealing with things immediately, setting goals and setting time aside just to get that area of your life organised is the first step, advised Semaj.
"Don't let the email pile up to thousands. Decide that you're going to deal with them at a set time each day and clear that inbox and respond to those that require responses, then move on," he said.
"If you have something to do, do it then move on. Don't procrastinate. Make a conscious decision that you're going to leave your desk clear at the end of the day and put things where they belong. Don't leave things strewn about and then tell yourself tomorrow. Something else may crop up tomorrow and eventually that small thing turns into something totally disorganised and out of control, which will require a lot more time to reorganise."
He added: "Try with the low-hanging fruits first, the simple things, the little things. Set yourself daily goals and work from that."He noted, however, that sometimes what you need to organise may be so big and in such bad shape, you may need professional help. Which means hiring someone to organise that garage or office or storeroom, then you maintain it from there.