Let’s face it: some New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. How many times have you committed to losing weight only to find yourself in the same “winter body” come April? Or vowed to quit smoking only to acquiesce to the clarion call of just one more puff…or pack?
Well, the good news is, you’re not alone. Almost all dieters struggle, and even those who are successful usually regain the weight — not because they’re weak-willed, but because of the physical ramifications of calorie deprivation. And some experts say nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin, so it’s no wonder you’re failing when you try to go cold turkey.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your life. If your New Year’s resolutions have grown stale, take heart; there’s never a wrong time to make positive changes. To celebrate the midway point of 2019, consider some resolutions that will actually increase your long-term wellbeing and set you up for a happy and productive 2020.
5 feel-good resolutions you can tackle right now
1. Figure out — and focus on — what matters.
We’ll give you a hint: it’s not the size of your jeans. And although your health is certainly important, some studies show that stress can be as bad for you as taking five smoke breaks a day, so it’s worth finding ways to get out of your own head.
Instead of focusing on the “bad” things you’re trying to subtract from your life, such as salty snacks or cigarettes, what good things can you add? What brings you joy and makes your life worth living? Maybe it’s returning to that old hobby you’ve let lapse or spending more time with family.
Only you can decide what’s worth focusing on, but take the time to sit down and really think about the question. Be honest with yourself. Don’t rely on some external metric of beauty or success; use your rules to define the good life.
2. Choose positivity whenever you can.
That negative self-talk you’re engaging in for failing to meet your goals yet again? It’s not helping you actually change anything. But meanwhile, it’s making you feel terrible, like walking around with your own personal bully in your pocket.
Instead of chastising yourself and dwelling on the negativity in your life, make it a point to practice compassion and optimism. Try taking a moment before bed to forgive yourself for whatever you did “wrong” that day, and when faced with a challenge, step back to intentionally look at the bright side of the situation. (There almost always is one.)
3. Travel more.
Okay, this one’s a pretty traditional New Year’s resolution, but it’s also a good one. Travel is one of the best ways to experience new cultures, ideas and people, giving you first-hand knowledge and experience you just can’t get any other way.
Of course, exploring the world isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive. Even with gas, car payments and insurance, you may still end up saving money by opting for a road trip instead of an expensive plane ticket. This is especially true if you already own your vehicle. In Georgia, for example, the state’s median monthly new car payment is $500 (less than the national average of $576) and the state has insurance rates that can dip as low as $871 a year (also less than the national average). Why add an extra travel expense if you’re already cashing in on below average rates?
4. Crack a book (or three).
Even when you take steps to cheapen travel, it’s always more expensive to go somewhere than it is to stay at home. But fortunately, there’s a second option that’s almost as good: reading.
Whether it’s a fantasy novel or a hard-hitting memoir, books can take you on a journey and teach you about both the larger world and yourself. And they’re definitely a lot cheaper than even the cheapest road trip — especially if you take advantage of your local library.
5. Get your finances in order.
No, we’re not talking about resolving to finally earn a six-figure income or win the lottery. No matter how much money you have, you’ll be better served by those funds if you make a plan for it, especially with holiday expenses on the horizon. If it’s been a while since you’ve sat down with your budget (or if you don’t even have one), the middle of the year is the perfect time to get reacquainted with your money.
With any luck, these summer resolutions will have a lot more staying power than the promises you made while still nursing holiday hangovers. Who knows? Maybe when it comes to making fresh starts stick, trading January for July is the secret.