20 Attainable Resolutions for Building a Healthy, Happy Life
20 Attainable Resolutions for Building a Healthy, Happy Life
Make 2024 your year with these achievable resolutions that will help you feel your best.
The New Year is here and for many people, including myself, the idea of a New Year brings with it excitement to set goals for a new year. There is optimism, excitement, and anxiety. As we have all experienced, our excitement oftentimes leads us to set goals and resolutions that are ambitious and noble, but not sustainable.
New Year resolutions often have a negative connotation, because they may encourage unrealistic goals or create pressure on us. But resolutions can also be a great starting point to prioritize your health and wellness if you do them on your own terms.
In this blog post, I am focused on embracing attainable resolutions. Resolutions that don’t focus so much on overhauling your current life. Rather, these goals are incorporated slowly to give you time to adapt to new routines that will make you feel good about yourself.
This year will be different. This will be the year of the attainable resolution!
Focusing on personal attainable goals.
As a therapist in private practice, I spent the last few weeks of 2023 helping people navigate the anxieties of the holidays. I also spent the time crunching numbers and reviewing key performance indicators. “How much money did the business bring in?” “How many clients did I see?” Which services were the most successful?”
I followed many successful entrepreneurial accounts this year and the themes among these entrepreneurs that stood out to me were the idea of consistency and long-term vision. What could you do every day, consistently for one year, 5 years, and 10 years? The ability to establish a habit and then make it efficient was the key to success.
Armed with that foundation, I started to preoccupy my thoughts on professional resolutions for 2024. But something odd happened. I couldn’t come up with any. As I sat in meditation one morning, something told me that establishing professional goals didn’t matter. I needed to focus on personal goals.
Why I am focused on the attainable resolution
To be honest, I spent very little time reflecting on my personal life, the accomplishments, the setbacks, and the challenges. Besides the massive change in my life, the birth of my daughter in June of this year, I did not think about what else happened in my life. The family illnesses and losses, the weight gain, the stress of parenting, and the loss of connection to my hobbies and to myself were not given time for reflection.
Much happened, and I did not allow myself the opportunity to process it. And I didn’t realize that my lack of consistency in my personal life was contributing to a bit of chaos professionally. I was not in a position to grow as I wanted to because I was in a mode of survival, not thriving.
An Attainable Resolution Need Reflection
Processing and reflection are crucial if you want to make a change. Especially if you want to establish achievable goals. And as I discuss some attainable resolutions to incorporate, you have to think about what is working and what isn’t.
It’s amazing how much we dismiss and how little we give attention to our day-to-day lives. At least for myself, my days were spent navigating the transition from one child to two. I was exhausted, but I, like most parents simply chalked it up to the “typical newborn phase”.
As a parent, it is very easy to lose sight of oneself, as you sacrifice to meet their needs. But you also sacrifice for your career, or your relationships, because they need you too. To think about yourself and what you want often feels like a privilege. But this exercise is crucial to helping you identify what can stay and what has to change.
Reflecting on your current life allows you to identify if this phase is perhaps a temporary season, or whether you have strayed completely from the path of who you are and who you want to be.
For example, I mentioned weight gain. I put on a significant amount of weight during my pregnancy and have physically and emotionally struggled with my postpartum body. I do not have expectations for my body to “bounce back” but I also know that I have engaged in unhealthy habits. Chips and crackers worked when I experienced morning sickness, but now it does not serve me to continue to engage in these habits. In assessing the items in my pantry, I noticed lots of processed food and little fruits and vegetables.
Pick three attainable resolutions and work on them for 100 days
As I sat in reflection about what I wanted my New Year’s resolutions to be, the goal of health stood out to me. Yes, weight loss, but reframed differently. Besides the focus of the number on the scale, I have chosen to shift my perspective and reframe the goal to become more attainable.
Previously, I, like many focused on weight loss from an external perspective. I wanted to fit into cool clothes and look like the famous people I saw on TV. I engaged in fad diets and lived for instant gratification. If a diet didn’t work after a month, I gave up and returned to bad habits, or I just started a new diet.
But the focus on my health in 2024, is being driven by two variables. Being a good role model for my children, especially my daughter, and watching my mother battle cancer. Both events led me to realize two things. One is that life is short, so you have to make time to enjoy it. And secondly, you want to be healthy enough to enjoy the life that you build.
So, in the spirit of focusing on health and well-being, focus on achieving goals that can be done daily for 100 days. After the 100 days are done, then tweak, reset, and keep going for another 100 days. If you focus on the 100 days and not the outcome, (i.e. the number on the scale), you motivate yourself differently. You focus on establishing a habit that you know will ultimately yield results if you do it long enough.
The attainable resolutions below aim to relieve stress, minimize anxiety (not add to it) and improve your overall well-being.
Take the time to scroll through the options below and pick your top three to focus on for 100 days.
Attainable Resolution #1. Create a cleaning schedule you’ll stick to
Keeping your home tidy without doing what feels like a deep clean every week can feel like a big ask. Focus on a 15-minute daily routine, morning and night, as well as picking one zone of your house every week to do a more thorough cleaning. Apps like FLY Lady, offer a system and inspiration for how to go about establishing a realistic routine that can work for working families.
Following this system will allow you to keep the house neat through daily routines so that you are not stuck spending endless hours cleaning. And you can enjoy your weekend.
Attainable Resolution #2. Declutter 15 minutes every day
If you can hardly see your counters through all the papers, Post-its, and not-yet-put-away groceries, you may pay for that chaos later when it comes to meals. Take 15 minutes to whisk it all where it belongs, and it can help you eat more mindfully in days to come. Check out this decluttering challenge printable below.
Attainable Resolution #3. Commit to a healthier sleep routine
So many issues can be traced back to a poor night’s sleep. Creating a plan to improve your sleep hygiene (the habits you maintain to get restorative sleep), based on your lifestyle and needs means that you can function optimally during the day. Your mood and the choices you make during the day are often the result of the quality of your sleep, so it’s important that you take sleep seriously. Start taking charge of your sleep as the year progresses.
Attainable Resolution #4. Drink water.
You know you need to hydrate. Water regulates every organ in our bodies and helps improve our energy levels as well as our metabolism, among a whole host of other benefits. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily. Get a water bottle that you can carry around with you remind you and track your water consumption.
Attainable Resolution #5. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are crucial for managing our waistlines, our hearts, and our guts. All things that impact our mood can be traced to the quality of the foods we eat. Many studies have continued to point to a Mediterranean diet as the ideal diet for longevity and health. The healthiest vegetables that you should try to eat, should focus on gut healthy fiber.
Getting the time and energy to incorporate the volume of fruits and vegetables recommended can be difficult. This is where sneaking food into our meals can help you meet those requirements. Books like these help you learn how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals, in ways that become automatic and tasty. Bonus, you might be able to get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies too!
Attainable Resolution #6. Make dinner easier.
Stop asking yourself if you have the time to cook healthy meals. Instead, focus on the kinds of meals you can cook in bulk and recipes that you can set and forget.
Find recipes on Pinterest or cookbook recipes that are designed to make your busy life easier. Embrace Instant Pot and slow cooker cooking to create healthy meals, filling and don’t require too much of your energy.
Attainable Resolution #7. Start walking more
Whether it’s walking further in a parking lot or incorporating a daily walk in the morning or after dinner, keeping yourself moving on a simple walk around the neighborhood is a must. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of walks on our moods and our bodies. You should spend as much time moving each day as possible. Physical activity (even just walking!) is better than none.
Attainable Resolution #8. Lift weights
Lifting weights and developing muscle is crucial to sustaining your quality of life. As you age, you become susceptible to weight gain, falling-related injuries, and physical decline. A strength training regimen can help elevate your daily functioning, by improving your stamina and building muscle.
There is no excuse not to incorporate resistance training into your week. You can use dumbbells or your own body weight to get an effective workout.
Attainable Resolution #9. Make your bed every morning
Making your bed in the morning helps you start your day with an aspect of accomplishment. As we navigate a world of stress and the unknown, there are a few things that you can look back on and say that you have accomplished. You create a sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning, and you are more motivated to make other healthy choices throughout the day. Plus, a bed that is made can transform your space and bring calm into your life.
Attainable Resolution #10. Become a plant owner
Research indicates that being in nature or surrounded by plants has been shown to lower stress levels and blood pressure. If you live in the Northeast like I do, getting outside and in nature can be difficult. But having a plant, or even looking at a picture of plants can calm the autonomic system (otherwise known as fight or flight). And when people work near plants, they report greater concentration, satisfaction, and perceived air quality.
The other great thing about having plants is that you learn to take care of something other than yourself. By actively caring for a plant, you feel calm and can develop a sense of purpose beyond the busy running around that we often do.
Attainable Resolution #11. Read more books
Incorporating reading in your life helps you learn. Reading gives you an escape from the everyday world. It helps you develop critical thinking skills. Reading exposes you to other cultures and other points of view. In a world divided by polarity and toxicity, reading can help you put things in perspective.
Reading books written hundreds of years ago can give you insight into bigger issues or similar problems that we continue to grapple with. Perhaps you are struggling. Reading the stories of others can offer you guidance, inspiration, and feedback to face whatever you are struggling with.
By incorporating a daily reading habit, one page or one paragraph at a time, you become a much more interesting person.
Attainable Resolution #12. Build a better budget.
If there’s one New Year’s resolution that will help you the most in the long run, it’s making a vow to save more money. Regardless of how much money you make, developing a habit of working towards a financial goal (i.e. pay off credit card debt, put money away for a rainy day, save for vacation, etc.) helps you develop confidence.
Outline a rough budget that works for you — and identify a goal that you want to accomplish with any saved money. to it. Budgeting apps can easily help you do this. Building a better budget also helps you reflect on why you are spending on the things you purchase (i.e. keeping up with the Joneses vs. having financial freedom). You may also seek to get the advice of a financial planner to help you establish goals for retirement and see if you’re on the right track.
Attainable Resolutions #13. Learn or hone a new skill.
Scientists are always learning more about how humans work to stave off cognitive decline and improve our quality of life.
Leaving your home to learn something new isn’t necessary anymore. Besides learning a skill that can make you more marketable in the workforce, you can learn things that can improve your quality of life and stave off cognitive decline. Researchers at Duke University studied participants’ brain activity while they completed simple math problems and found that solving them feels like a reward, helping to curb negative feelings.
Attainable Resolution #14. Listen to music
Blasting any happy-making tune has multiple mind and body benefits. It can make activities more enjoyable, lower your stress or improve your mood. Music gets you up and moving, helping you exercise without it feeling like exercise. Listening to classical music can help you focus and concentrate, while also reducing your stress and increase calm. Make a playlist, tune into a streaming service and allow yourself to have your mood boosted.
Attainable Resolution #15. Delegate more chores.
A large study found that people who spent money on time-saving services, such as housecleaning, or grocery shopping services, felt greater life satisfaction and happiness than those who shelled out for material goods like clothes. If money is tight, work with your family to delegate your least favorite chore to a family member and do the same for them.
Attainable Resolution #16. Start a gratitude practice.
Keeping track of things, people and events that you’re grateful for throughout the year can help you to improve your mental and physical wellness. “It literally breathes new life into us. It recharges and it rejuvenates,” Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and founder of a research lab that studies the effects of grateful living, told ABC News. And it doesn’t have to take up much time. Just a few minutes a day can make all the difference.
Attainable Resolution #17. Schedule your annual health screenings.
Open your calendar app (or planner) and make your and your family’s appointments for the year. Whether it be in one sitting or over the course of the month, focus on getting those preventative health appointments scheduled. Not only will you get the anxiety-inducing over with, but scheduling exams will be less likely to get squeezed out as life gets chaotic.
Start with your primary care provider, and ask which screenings (e.g., mammogram, colonoscopy) you’re due for. Slot those in, then move on to the dentist’s office and head over to your ophthalmologist, too.
Attainable Resolution #18. Find sunshine
Spending as much time outside as possible is a great thing for your health and your mood. Sunlight is critical to regulating your mood throughout the day and improving your gut microbiome. Sunlight can also help regulate our circadian rhythms, which directly impacts how productive we are as well. Even on cloudy days, getting access to the sun can help activate all of the mood boosting benefits that the sun can give us.
Try opening the shades first thing in the morning or stepping outside (before you even get your first cup of coffee). This allows hormones to get activated by exposure to the sun. Try to go outside during lunch and get some sun on your face as well to re-energize you. If you can’t find natural light in your home, try investing in a few supercharged lights for indoor living.
Attainable Resolution #19. Explore goal chunking
Any mom will tell you that they multi-task. You have to order groceries fill out the paperwork, put in a load of laundry, order dinner. It feels like multitasking is a necessity, not an option. But many studies will show us that multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient, it actually stresses you out. The stress comes from having to task switch and devote mental resources towards stopping a project half-way and starting a project somewhere else, and going back to the original project. It is a recipe for disaster.
If your attention is being pulled in a million different directions, you start to become anxious about completing a task and worrying about whether a new task will pop up. Imagine you “simply” go to check your email while working on something and notice that you have two new tasks to complete. The anxiety sets in because you have to now devote mental resources towards brainstorming on the new tasks.
Instead of fragmenting your days, seek to organize activities into chunks of time. Completing as many chores as possible will be scheduled for one hour at night. Cooking and homework time will be done as soon as you come home. And something as overwhelming as emails? Choose to check your emails two or three times at certain hours of the day, instead of every time you pick up your phone. Commit yourself to completing similar tasks in the time allotted and watch as your anxiety reduces.
Attainable Resolution #20. Pay attention to your thoughts
Did you know that we have between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day? Have you ever paid attention to those thoughts? Are they typically worries, negative self-talk and complaints. Or are they validating, supportive and optimistic? However, most people lean towards negative thinking, especially about ourselves.
When your inner critic starts showing up, ask yourself whether you would say these things to a friend or your child? Therefore, the same compassion and encouragement given to others should be given to ourselves.
One of the best ways to tackle the negative inner voice is to write down compassionate statements and read them. Getting out of your own head and seeing someone written that is external often helps to neutralize the negativity. It makes it easier to shift your perspective and challenge the negative thoughts.
Starting new habits and focusing on your resolutions can feel overwhelming. But, you can successfully attain those resolutions if you start small and focus on consistency. Remember that some is better than not at all. You can do it!
Please share anything that you showed up for you as you incorporated some of these tips and what you learned about yourself in this process.