Are you one of those steadfast types that love the tradition of making a list of motivating New Year’s resolutions each year? Or, have you “been there – done that” one too many times and have decided that the only resolution you care to make is not setting yourself up for disappointment by breaking the list you made less than one week into it? Go ahead, be honest!
Most people are not going to keep their resolutions all year long. They’ll start out with the best of intentions but the worst of strategies, expecting that they’ll somehow find the willpower to resist temptation after temptation. In an interesting report done by Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University and co-author of the book, Willpower, he and many of his colleagues have concluded that the way to keep a New Year’s resolution is to anticipate the limits of your willpower.
They’ve recently reported that willpower is a real form of mental energy, powered by glucose in the bloodstream, which is used up as you exert self-control. Baumeister explains that successful people play offense, not defense, using their willpower in advance so that they avoid crises, conserve their energy and outsource as much self-control as they can.
Keeping that in mind, if you’re the type that can’t seem to locate your personal willpower an hour or so after you list a goal or resolution, fear not, you are definitely not alone. In fact, thanks to social media we were able to poll well over 50 parents from our Gansett Moms’ Council to ask them what types of resolutions they would be making for 2013 and the eclectic responses received just may give you a few ideas of your own.
Paying It Forward
The most popular (and heartwarming) response from all age groups was to make an extra effort to find ways within the community to perform random acts of kindness. (If this doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will!) Here are a few of the ideas that were shared.
Weekly Card Giving
On New Year's Day, begin a list of every people you interact with on a regular basis. For most people, identifying 52 individuals is not difficult to do. From church members, to a local florist or even a hairdresser, begin listing all of the individuals who provide a service to you at some point during the year. From this list of 52 individuals, begin sending a card each week of the year as a way of expressing gratitude for their service and care.
Donate One Item to Charity per Month
Most of us can locate a large handful of items we consider of little value in our homes. Items we may no longer use, wear or even items we keep stored away. Each month, on the first or last day, gather one unused item and make a trip to a local charitable organization for donation. In doing so, you may find after several months that more than one item is donated each month. Not only will you be helping others in need, you’ll be organizing your own home in the process.
Bake or Cook For Your Neighbors
In every neighborhood there is usually at least one senior adult or couple living alone, a single mom, or several families that you can always count on no matter what. Take a few minutes to identify these people/families and pick a day each month to share baked goods or a home cooked meal with them.
Helping Out at Local Pet Shelters
One mom shared that for the upcoming year she and her kids were going to volunteer at the local animal shelter doing anything and everything that they could to help. The youngest child in their family has severe allergies to pet fur so they cannot have an animal in the house. By spending regular time at the animal shelter, the rest of the family will enjoy regular interaction with homeless animals and still be able to feel as though they have a loving pet in their lives!
Sometimes, the best option for tackling a worthy cause or goal is humor. A handful of the witty responses received are below:
- I will stop brushing my teeth before I drink my morning orange juice!
- I will stop licking flagpoles in the winter!
- I will spend less than $1975 for coffee at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts this year!
- I will try to find all the mates to the missing socks we stockpile in the corner of our mud room each year!
- I will remember to set my scale back 10 pounds during the holidays! (Personally, I’m jealous I never thought of this myself!)
Whether you’ve been together for only a few months or more than 50 years, couples can make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year that will benefit their relationship. Here were the popular responses from those hoping to feel the love during 2013.
Play Games Together
This New Year's resolution is a fun one to fulfill. Relationships don't have to be all work and no play. Take the time to have some fun with your partner by playing games together. During the summer you can go to the park and throw a Frisbee or football around. In the colder winter months you can stay indoors and play card or board games together. You can even invite other couples over for team game play.
And in case you haven't heard, the 50 Shades Trilogy has two new games out. The 50 Shades of Grey Party Game, and for you real "playful" types--there is the 50 Shades of Grey Expansion Pack--Red Room Edition. (Wink, wink!)
One of the best ways to get inside your lover’s heart is through his or her stomach. Many couples have vowed to spend more time in the kitchen together this year by preparing romantic menus like fondue, steamy pasta dishes, or decadent desserts.
This one is an important one. This New Year's resolution requires nothing more than listening to your partner--truly listen. Keep in mind that your partner isn't always in search for answers and may not want to receive advice instead they just want your ears all to themselves.
Boost your partner's self esteem by creating a New Year's resolution to dish out more compliments, but only when they are genuine. Compliments can be something as general as, "Your hair looks great today!" Or it can be more specific, like "I love how you just spent time pretending to be the Big Bad Wolf when you read to the kids before bed—you are so animated and sweet!" Taking the time to compliment your significant other shows them that you do still love them, you appreciate them, and you still find them attractive. Surprise your loved one with compliments during appropriate times such as dressing up for a dinner out, accomplishing items on your “honey do” list, or commenting with great praise about the way he/she interacted lovingly with your mother.
Even if you don’t want to set individual resolutions for the New Year, coming up with resolutions that the whole family can work on is a great way to journey through the upcoming year together.
Find new ways to save money
In a day and age when everyone is screaming "recession" it is obvious that not everyone is a part of it. Some people are doing well, in fact thriving, in this current economy. You can be one of these people. Clip coupons, sign up for emails from your favorite stores, try different brands, find ways to be a green family, recycle, skip fast food meals every other month. These are just a few ways you can save and invest in your family’s future.
Pledge to be on time
This is one that my family will be working on this year. Not only is being on time considerate to other people, it is a measure of excellence. If you want to get ahead, you have to be on time.
Show people you love them more
Don't just say, "I love you," show it. Actions are words brought to life. What you do is a reflection of what you say. It's not difficult to show people you love them. Examples are catching your children, spouse, and friends doing something good and then praising them aloud for it. Leaving love letters in your spouse’s briefcase or your kid’s lunchboxes is another way to show you care. How about showing your own self some loving? Freshen up your undergarment drawer or buy yourself some new herbal teas or bubble bath as a treat for caring for your family throughout the year.
Engage in a New Hobby as a Family
With all the crazy and harried schedules most families keep these days, there isn’t much time leftover to engage in the simple yet meaningful things like sharing dinner together each night, having a family movie night every week, or even hanging out together doing absolutely nothing during the weekends. Many of the individuals who responded to our poll were determined to increase the amount of time they shared as a family in the New Year. Brainstorm as a family on a variety of interests that you all have, and then find a way to make at least one of these ideas happen each and every month.
Invest in the Time to Plan Family Meals
One of every families’ biggest frustrations is handling the dinner routine every night. Over half the family members that responded to our New Year’s poll noted that they would be making every effort to get into the healthy habit of planning their family meals each and every week. Not only will menu planning save parents and individuals the grief of wondering what they’ll pull together for dinner at the last minute, it is also proven to save time and money when this planning is done in advance each week!
Nearly 90 percent of those polled were very motivated to get their homes organized in 2013. This included de cluttering major living spaces such as the kitchen and family rooms, cleaning out closets and giving away outfits not worn within the past six months, and finding a way to streamline and stay on top of paperwork and bills.
- Let go of the past. The biggest enemy of the future is the past. Learn from the successes and mistakes you've made in the past, but don't dwell on either one. Keep your focus on the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for both you and your family.
- Learn to say “no” This may be one of the most difficult resolutions any of us chooses to make, but over 75% of the people taking this poll said they needed to not sign on for every single request that was made of them. Cheers to everyone who realizes the importance of protecting their precious time when they just don’t have it to give away! (Note to self—this resolution is VERY IMPORTANT!)
- Get More Rest If you don't get a minimum of six hours of sleep you are doing your body a disservice. There are far too many of us who operate with only four to six hours of sleep each night. In order to achieve many of your other New Year’s goals, getting the proper rest will ensure that you can tackle the rest of your list!
The beginning of a brand new year is exciting, scary, magical, and full of endless possibility. Hopefully one or more of the ideas above will give you some clear focus for making it the best year you and your family can possibly have.
Meanwhile, in addition to celebrating the New Year with clarity and unique resolutions, here are some interesting and fun facts about New Year’s Day:
- According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more vehicles are stolen on New Year's Day than on any other holiday throughout the year.
- The Time Square New Year's Eve Ball came about as a result of a ban on fireworks. The first ball, in 1907, was an illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. Today, the round ball designed by Waterford Crystal, weighs 11,875-pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is bedazzled with 2,668 Waterford crystals.
- Throughout the year, visitors to Times Square in New York City write their New Year's wishes on pieces of official Times Square New Year's Eve confetti. At the end of the year, the wishes are collected and added to the one ton of confetti that showers the crowd gathered in Times Square in celebration of the New Year.
- The top three destinations in the United States to ring in the New Year are Las Vegas, Disney World and New York City.
- Food plays a big role in New Year's traditions. Eating black-eyed peas, ham or cabbage are thought to bring prosperity. However, stay away from bad luck foods like lobsters, because they move backwards, and chicken, because they scratch in reverse. It is believed that eating these on New Year's Day might cause a reversal of fortune.
- According to a recent survey taken in Times Square in NYC, 40 to 45 percent of American adults make one or more resolutions each year._ The top New Year's resolutions include weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking, and better money management. By the second week of January, 25 percent of people have abandoned their resolutions.
- In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year's Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.
Regardless of whether you believe in setting New Year’s resolutions each year or not, we wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Want to be e-mailed when Cheryl has a new column? Click the “keep me posted!” button below.