If you made a New Year’s resolution, there’s an 80 percent chance you’ve already given it up or you’re just about to. But that’s O.K.! We want to help you stick with it — or revamp it into something you really want to achieve. So for February, Smarter Living will offer tips, advice and motivation.
Every Monday in The Times’s Morning Briefing, we’ll pose a new question or idea to you, and on Thursday, we’ll highlight a few top answers.
If you’d like to participate, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “My resolution” and your name, resolution and sub-goals.
We kicked things off this past Monday, and we’ve already received more than 600 responses. Here are some resolutions we’ve received so far:
Find Professional Fulfillment
I read your offer (and not for the first time!) in this morning’s Times briefing, and decided that I was among the masses whose resolutions were about to die — and decided I’d try to give mine some CPR.
My resolution and why I chose it: To find meaningful freelance work so that I can shed the unpalatable drudgery of being cooped up in the same place all day, every day, doing unsatisfying work in the name of money.
Two specific sub-goals: I will check new job boards each week, extending my reach to N.Y.C. (from just Philly, where I live) and apply to at least two jobs per week; and I will contact everyone I’ve worked with in the past 10 years to see if they could use any help.
Practice My Art
My resolution and why I chose it: I’ve always wanted to be an artist but was afraid to really try. I’ve resolved to fill one 60-page sketchbook back and front per month. I hope to exceed 1,500 pages this year. I finished my first yesterday.
Sub-goals: Starting on Feb. 1, I will set my alarm half an hour earlier to add 30 minutes of drawing exercises in the morning. I will also keep everything that does not pertain to sketching off of my art table. That’s for art, not Chinese food.
My resolution and why I chose it: My resolution is to rid myself of the disease known as procrastination — this is so I can actually revise my lectures notes/stop futile all nighters, thereby ensuring that I actually have a chance for a semi-decent future (incredibly sorry for all the extra negativity during an already bleak period)!
Sub-goals: From Feb. 1, I will go to the library to actually study instead of spending hours finding the 10 NYT articles I can read for the month (I’m a college student, £3 is exorbitant). I will also stop binge watching episodes of “Jane the Virgin.”
Fix My Finances
My resolution and why I chose it: My resolution is threefold: to track my financial life more carefully; be more aware of how I’m spending my money; and learn how I can make better choices with it.
Sub-goals: In January, I’ve brought my lunch to work every day and used both Mint and Personal Capital to track my spending. I also (finally!) enrolled in my company’s 401(k) at 7 percent. I’m testing to see if that percentage is the right one. I am reading up on index funds and looking to be a more educated investor.
Deal With the Laundry
My resolution and why I chose it: To put my laundry away as soon as it is done in the washer and dryer. I chose this because although it may seem trivial, like many others that I know, I regularly found myself sifting through baskets (or piles) of clean laundry. And let’s never underestimate the procrastination tactic of moving the clean laundry from the bed to the floor and back again … needless to say, it causes some really unnecessary daily stress and frustration.
Sub goals: 1. Buy a new (pretty) laundry basket and put the laundry in the washer as soon as it is full (one month in and so far so good!). 2. Make sure that everything going into the laundry basket actually needs to be washed to reduce unnecessary laundry.
Get Back to the Music
My resolution and why I chose it: My No. 1 resolution is to play my harp again. I have been playing harp my entire life, for fun and professionally. I was diagnosed with a nerve condition a few years ago: cubital tunnel syndrome. There are ways back to health, but it will take a lot of small steps and commitment.
Sub-goals: Sleep with my elbow braces on every night for February and March. Work on physical therapy, neck, back, arms, jaw. Make that part of daily activity for February and March.
Focus on Fitness
My resolution and why I chose it: I want a strong and fit body that will carry me through retirement. I want to enjoy the older years and not be hindered by health issues.
Two specific sub-goals: My biggest challenge is how much I love food and drink. I am also a binge snacker. I eat when I’m bored. I eat when I’m stressed. At times, I turn into a living garbage disposal.
Sub-goal: Finally lose the last five pounds that I’ve tried to lose for years. I can do this by being mindful of the food I eat every day. Before I grab that snack or second helping, ask myself if I’m hungry or really need it.
Second sub goal: Build a leaner body by incorporating physical activity at least one to two times per week. My plan is to do a combination of weight training and cardio (Orangetheory) along with my current yoga routine.
I’ll start here for the first three months then re-evaluate my progress.
My resolution and why I chose it: My resolution for this year is to quit smoking cigarettes. I’ve been a pack-a-day smoker for five years now, at one point three packs a day. I’m only just about to turn 21 and I can hardly walk the mile from my apartment to campus without feeling out of breath and still craving a smoke.
I work for an outdoor program at my school, leading other students on trips backpacking, kayaking, caving (my favorite), etc., and I don’t want to be held back by nicotine any longer while I try to experience the beauties of Earth. I want to be healthier.
Sub-goals: By spring break (March 11), I would like to desire only one cigarette, with my coffee while I read The New York Times. By the end of this semester (May 9), I want to no longer crave a cigarette at any point.
Learn to Slow Down
My resolution and why I chose it: Live with more deliberation and completion. Living with a constant sense of urgency didn’t do much except to make me feel anxious; having so many unfinished projects made me feel ineffective and frivolous.
Sub-goals: I will be more aware of when I am moving too fast and observing too little, increasing awareness and decreasing chance of injury. I will take on fewer projects and either finish them by a set date or discard them lest they become frustrating and guilt-inducing. I will literally move a little more slowly throughout the day, observing more what is happening around me (increasing awareness, decreasing chance of injury); I will put things back where they belong.
My resolution and why I chose it: I want to be a better long-distance friend. I have amazing friends I care about deeply all over the country, but because my community here in Atlanta has changed so much, I often spend evenings alone feeling isolated.
Sub-goals: Starting now, each week I will make time to send a handwritten letter or have a phone call with one long-distance friend or family member. When I’m exhausted or stressed after work, instead of turning my brain off with TV, I will reach out to a friend — even if it’s just a text message.
Save for Retirement
Tim Herrera (your Smarter Living editor)
My resolution and why I chose it: To be better with money and save more for retirement so that someday I might be able to (gasp) retire.
Sub-goals: This month I’ll order delivery for dinner one fewer night per week, and I’ll cut down at least one of my daily afternoon coffees (which I buy solely out of habit, but which cost me around $500 over the course of a year).