New Year’s Resolve
It’s not too late to get it together
BY TARA BEHAN PUBLISHED JANUARY 11, 2007 AT 12:00 AM
You had the best intentions as you toasted the New Year. You promised yourself 2007 would be different—that this time you’d stick to your plan for building a new and improved you.
But like most of us, you won’t make it past Groundhog Day. So forget the resolutions and just start over. Make today the day you rid yourself of the hang-ups weighing you down. It’s only February, after all. There’s still plenty of time left.
1. This is the year I’m going to stop wishing there were more hours in the day.
You can pray for it or cry about it, but nothing is going to change the fact that there’s only so much time to get things accomplished. “It’s impossible to create more of it,” says Lisa Kramer, a certified professional coach and president of Living with Intention in Villanova. “What is possible is for you to take control of the time you have.”
Kramer encourages clients to look at how they spend a typical week. Are there chunks of time you could reclaim by cutting out an activity or sharing a responsibility with a partner at home or at work? Do you overextend yourself by volunteering for too many things? Or is it simply a matter of not knowing how to say no?
After examining your week, prioritize the absolute musts, then work your way down to things that aren’t as critical. Some things will have to be eliminated from your schedule if you want to claim more time for yourself.
“Selfish isn’t a dirty word,” says Kramer. “It’s important to give to yourself in order to give back to others.”
2. This is the year I’m finally going to get organized.
“People have so much stuff and are so busy, it’s harder than ever to be organized,” says Michele Blickley, president of The Book Bag Organizer in Havertown. “The need is greater than it’s ever been for a more organized life.”
And the benefits are enormous. First, it’s good for us. When you walk into a cluttered room and start feeling anxious, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol in the bloodstream on a consistent basis can lead to numerous health issues. An uncluttered space leads to a clearer, calmer mind, allowing you to focus on more important things.
Simply put, everything you own should have a home. Know that you always put your keys on the coffee table next to the door—or that, after a trip, your passport is tucked safely away in your top dresser drawer. Make it a habit to put things back where they should be. “It really is so basic,” says Blickley. “Being organized is about being able to find what you need when you need it.”
To avoid getting too overwhelmed, start small, breaking down large projects into manageable chunks. Organize one drawer or one shelf, then move on to an entire room.
3. This is the year I’m going to lose those 10 pounds.
We all know the benefits of eating healthier and exercising. So if we know what’s good for us and there’s so much information available out there to help us get in shape, why don’t we do it? And when we do, why is it so hard to stick to our routine?
Simply put, we’re a culture accustomed to fast results achieved via the easiest route possible. It’s easier to try the latest fad diet—or buy a new pair of jeans the next size up—than commit to working out a couple of days a week. It’s easier to order pizza than prepare a healthy meal after a hard day at work.
Or so we tell ourselves to justify our inactivity and alleviate the guilt. Getting into shape, though, doesn’t have to be a life-altering, monumental task. Start slowly. Keep a food journal for a week and write down everything you consume. Are there substitutions you can make to reduce your calorie intake?
“To reduce body fat, your body has to run at a caloric deficit,” says Dwayne Wimmer, owner of Vertex Fitness Per-sonal Training Studio in Bryn Mawr. “Be aware of what you’re eating. Don’t try and change your entire diet all at once. You’re more likely to stay with it if you make small changes.”
Another crucial mistake people make is thinking of exercise as a weight loss tool. “Exercise is very good for you,” says Wimmer. “But people think because they exercise, they don’t have to watch what they eat. That’s not the case.”
Exercise, combined with reducing the number of calories you consume, is what will help you lose weight. To set yourself up for success, pair up with a friend who has weight-loss goals similar to yours. If possible, workout with that friend—or at the very least, schedule a weekly phone call to discuss both your latest challenges and victories.
Hiring a personal trainer will also help you become more accountable for your workouts. This person should also be a great positive source of motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.
4. This is the year I’m going to take a ballroom dancing class.
If you don’t like dancing, choose something else you’ve always wanted to try—and get out there and learn it. The thrill of mastering something new keeps us feeling alive and refreshed.
Stimulating the brain with new information relieves it from the daily routine. Being involved in a new activity also gives you something to look forward to that’s all yours, and provides a boost of self-confidence when you achieve your goals.
The Numbers Game
We use about 20 percent of what we own 80 percent of the time. That’s a lot of unused stuff sitting around. Don’t be afraid of getting rid of things. To start, go through clothes that don’t fit, are outdated or simply aren’t worn anymore and donate them. Do you have boxes of toys and books your children have outgrown? Again, give these items a second life by donating them to someone who could put them to good use.
More than 50 percent of the mail that comes to your home is trash. Take five minutes a day to run those unwanted credit card offers and circulars through the shredder and eliminate the prospect of being inundated with a week’s worth of paper clutter.
According to experts, it takes 21 days for a new habit to develop. So whatever you’re trying to accomplish this year—from quitting smoking to exercising on a regular basis—commit yourself to three weeks of good behavior so you won’t get frustrated with, or intimated by, the process.
Take Back Your Space
• Have bins and boxes on lower shelves so kids can put away their toys easily.
• Provide plenty of low hooks to hang sweaters, pajamas, jackets and book bags. Encourage kids and teens to choose their outfits for the next day before they go to bed at night.
• Determine how you’d like to use the space, then stick to the plan.
• Get rid of things that don’t work.
• After you’re done sorting and purging, properly store what you keep.
• Pull out everything you haven’t worn in the last year; clothes tend not to improve with age.
• Decide what you want at your fingertips and what can be hidden away in containers under the bed, on shelves or in drawers.
• Hang like items together—group shirts, pants, dresses, etc.
• As a rule of thumb, things that work together should be stored together.
• Drawer dividers are a good way to keep utensils in order.
• Rotate food staples out of your pantry; create menus to make use of older canned goods.
• Feel the flow of activity in your kitchen. Place glasses near the sink or the refrigerator; put snacks in a convenient drawer or cupboard.
Source: National Association of Professional Organizers (napo.net).