Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Month's Resolutions for the New Year

Leo Babauta author of the Zen Habits blog recommends making 12 different “new month’s” resolutions rather than the usual list of New Year’s resolution. Earl Nightingale recommends establishing new habits by practicing them every day for 30 days. If you miss one day, the clock starts over. If you persist for 30 days, Nightingale would consider your efforts a success. Psychologists teach that behaviors are best changed in small incremental steps that establish a pattern of success. I noted this was certainly true in studying and tutoring math. Giving a student a larger number of problems he could reasonably be expected to solve rather than a smaller number of more difficult problems, tended to build confidence that lead to success.

Let’s start with a financial problem since this is a personal finance blog. Perhaps you are one of those people who have a little too much month at the end of the money. If you are not up to living on a budget take a little step in the right direction. See where it leads. Focus your attention on your spending habits without judgment or anger, as though they belonged to a total stranger. If you are honest, you will find at least one glaringly obvious problem. Let’s say you discover that you are eating out at restaurants too many times in a typical month. In this busy two income world, I have noticed restaurant bills are a common problem in many family budgets. For 30 days, limit your visits to restaurants to a level that will likely to lead you to successfully freeing up money for more important matters. For the sake of argument let’s say one visit to a restaurant per week. Could you do that for 4 weeks? How much money would that free up in your budget? By the way, improve your finances comes in at #2 on the list of top ten New Year’s resolutions.

Lose weight is America’s #1 New Year’s resolution. I am certainly working on that one. There are basically two ways to lose weight improve your diet or increase your amount of exercise. Not surprisingly, exercise comes in at #3 and eat healthier comes in at #5. In the past year I have done a pretty good job of establishing a pattern of consistent exercise by walking almost every day I am not on travel. When I started, 1.1 mile was all I could do on a consistent basis. A year later, I am walking four miles or occasionally more for weekly totals that come in between 20 and 28 miles. In the next month, I would like to add sit ups to walking to improve my core for other possible physical activities. I also, obviously, need to add stretching to keep my leg muscles from getting too tight.

My diet is pretty embarrassingly bad. Eating a least one serving of green vegetables other than what is normally found in a salad every day for 30 days would be good new month’s resolution for me that could lead to successfully overhauling my diet. Attempting to give up fatty meat and beer (what I really need to do) would likely lead to failure in less than a week.

Get a new job comes in at #4. If this is your goal begin with something simple you can control. Resolve to fill out one job application every week for a month or make at least one new contact a week with someone who might be able to help you with your search. You can’t control the results of a job search since the outcome is in the hands of the employer. You can choose to study the problem and do those things that are proven to help move the numbers in your favor. Think of a salesman making cold calls. There is some number associated with this activity, perhaps 20 phone calls will lead to 1 face to face meeting. Perhaps 5 face to face meeting will reasonably result in one sale.

Manage stress better is number six on America’s list of New Year’s resolutions. Number 10 is set aside time for yourself. Why not do both at the same time? I find listening to peaceful music while just sitting helps me deal with stress. There are numerous meditation techniques from various traditions that are all proven to lower pulse, blood pressure, and respiration rates. Psalm 46 comes to mind, “Be still and know that I am God.” Begin by setting aside 10-20 minutes every day for one month just for healing your soul from the overstimulation of our technical age. Sit alone in a room; let peaceful music or better yet silence, restore your heart.

The rest of the list from Parade Magazine, if these items are on your list of New Year’s resolutions, what small thing could you do for just 30 days that could change your life?

7. Stop smoking

8. Improve a relationship

9. Stop procrastinating

No comments:

Post a Comment