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January marks the beginning of a new year, and a fresh start for many. And when it’s near, we begin to reflect on the past and make changes for the future. Of course we make changes to our lives at various different times throughout our lives, but when a new year rolls around it seems to be a common motivator. This makes sense, especially since resolutions cleverly includes the word, solutions.” With that being said, I think we can agree that making a list of goals is easy, and although we start off with good intentions and enthusiasm, but the follow through is challenging, right? Well, to help guide you along, I’ve compiled a list of 10 common resolutions with the steps to help you achieve them:

1) Get organized! Having a home that you’re happy to be in is a must! But if you have clutter, and struggle with productivity or time management, a new plan is likely what you need. Below are a few organizing tips and tools to get you started, and keep you on track for the long haul:

  • Schedules help you meet deadlines, stay focused, keep you on track, and to create daily routines. For example, if you workout frequently and wake up the same time everyday (schedule) to go for your morning walk, it starts to feel less like a chore, and more like part of your day (routine). Keep in mind that routines eventually turn into habits, and habits are hard to break.
  • Use a digital planner to stay on schedule. Setting goals of any kind is necessary, but when we don’t plan effectively anything can happen. And because we live in a digital world with smartphones phones practically attached to our hips, why not take advantage of this simple tool to keep the clutter away? All it takes is a simple alert and you know what’s next on your to-do list. If you forget, your digital planner will remind you.
  • Quarterly maintenance is a practical way to reduce clutter, and make the organizing process easier. How? You don’t have to do it all at once. For example, each time a new season comes around, purge, sell or donate to charity, as a result, your home will remain organized throughout the year. 

2) Join the gym. The desire to look better and feel healthier is a common goal, and like many things, it requires a long-term commitment. And if your goal is to go to the gym five days a week, although you have a hectic schedule, you could be setting yourself up for failure, and if time is an obstacle for you, it may be difficult for you to meet that goal. Instead, try two or three times a week instead. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

3) Save more money. Money, money, money, who doesn’t want more of it? I bet we all do, and the obvious solution to save more money is to spend less, right? Yes, but just saying it or writing it down won’t work. So how can you achieve this common goal? With a few tips and tools:

  • Use digital alerts to set limits on your financial accounts, like credit and debit cards. When you Set alerts to track of your spending, it’s easier to stay on budget. Once your hit your spending limit you get notified immediately, and at that time you can decide if spending more is necessary. To get started, simply go online and choose your financial institute, then select settings and alerts. It’s that easy!
  • Reduce your daily withdrawal limit at the ATM. A simple phone call, or visit to your banking institution is all it takes.
  • Open a designated spending account, and any money that goes into this specific account is for your expendable money ONLY. Then when you use your debit card you will never have to worry about going over budget. 
  • Create a budget list. Many people spend and spend without knowing where their money is going, until it’s in black and white. Make this list and break down your total monthly expenses, along with your NET income, then you can clearly see what you’re spending your money on. This with also help you to determine where to cut costs. 

4) Eat healthier. Everyday we eat food to survive, and the better we eat, the better we feel, but it’s easier said than done. Old habits are hard to break, so before you start taking everything out of your fridge and cupboards to replenish them with new foods, begin this process with a tester approach. Why? It’s more realistic. I’m sure you know people who have been successful on diets, and possibly some who failed trying. That’s understandable, after all, any type of lifestyle change can shock your system, and that includes changes to your diet. To eat healthy long-term, a clear plan must be in place or this goal will be on your list again next year. The solution is to start off gradual, and avoid introducing new foods into your life all at once. Also, as you ease into your new eating habits, why not create a weekly meal plan?

5) Be more active! This can be done in many different ways, and if it’s on your list, be specific then determine how you will achieve this. For instance, will you take the stairs at work instead of the elevator? Or will you start walking during your lunch hour? No matter what steps you take, have a clear plan.

6) Get out of debt. It’s no surprise that spending money is easy, this is one activity we all participate in. But unfortunately, this action has left many people struggling with debt. There’s no way to avoid spending money, but you can monitor how you spend it. What’s the first step? Start with number three (3) and use a monthly budget list. Then set up an appointment with a personal banking officer to discuss a possible consolidation loan. Or, you can make bi-weekly payments on your loans to reduce the interest charges. Either way, there are options out there, you just have to explore them. I’m not in finance, but I’m very practical, and part of my role as a professional organizer is to help people plan effectively to reach their goals. 

7) Downsize. If you plan to move from a house into an apartment, or possibly join the tiny house community, you will eventually have to let go of some belongings, and adjust to living in less space, with less stuff.  to get prepared, you may want to: 

  • Simplify with baby steps. To move from a large space into a smaller one is an adjustment, and depending on how small you go, it may be a complete lifestyle change. Purge and reduce what you have now. For instance, if you live in a three bedroom house and you’re moving into a one bedroom condo, live like you’re in a once bedroom by letting go of the items that you will not be going with you. In doing so, just think of how easy it will be to adjust, and settle in on moving day. 

8) Travel more. If you love to travel then adding a few more vacation dates to your calendar is the way to go. But sometimes these plans just don’t work out, try the following tips to help you achieve your travel goals:

  • Use a travel list and decide where you want to go and when you are leaving
  • Carve out the time
  • Modify your schedule
  • Set aside the money
  • Request time off
  • Book your flight early

9) Try something new. You may already have a hobby or two, but now you’re ready to find something new to explore. Well, before you jump in head first, consider the trial run option. For instance, if you want to join a Yoga class, instead of committing to a full membership right away, sit in on a session, then determine if it’s a good fit? If not, do you want to be stuck with a membership that will never get used?

10) Stop procrastinating. Putting things off is nothing new, we’ve all been there at one time or another. But for many people, this is a daily struggle. And in my experiences, procrastination has a lot to do with motivation, and fear of the unknown. Sometimes it can be scary to venture into new territory, there’s no doubt about it, but there are small steps you can take that will release you from your comfort zone to action:

  • Break tasks down into smaller parts, and set time limits. For example, spend 20 minutes a day clearing the clutter from the garage until it’s gone.
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  • Use visual reminders for daily motivation. If you haven’t heard of a vision board, it’s a useful and practical tool to keep you motivated to reach your goals. Use pictures that inspire you and pin them to a cork or foam board with your favorite inspirational quotes. Then everyday you’re reminded of the things that you want to achieve. But the key is to place these motivators in where you can see them regularly. I keep mine in the bedroom so I see it every morning. 

  • Be okay with progress, and reward yourself for a job well done! Don’t get caught up thinking that everything on your list has to be done all at once. Each step toward your goals is an accomplishment, and one less item on your to-do list.

It doesn’t matter what goals you set out to accomplish, give yourself a break if things doesn’t go as planned. Striving for perfection is unrealistic, just keep moving forward until you get there.

I wish you all the best in the new year!

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