Streamline your workouts, your morning makeup, even your resolution list. Here are New Year's tips on how to look better and improve your health next year.
Focus your New Year’s resolutions
Got a long list of ways you want to overhaul your life? Simplify it and you’ll tick off more by year’s end, says Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University and author of The Willpower Instinct. Setbacks are inevitable while making a change, she says, "but what’s important is to not let one failure turn into an off week or month." There are ways to prioritize so you get real results.
Pick the one thing that matters most
You’re most likely to succeed if you stick with a resolution (or two) that is compelling and inspiring to you. How to tell what’s a keeper? Pretend it’s a year from now: Are you grateful you made this change? If your answer is "eh," drop it.
Think big picture
That old advice about making resolutions specific and measurable? Not quite spot on. You could, after all, check off your goal of exercising 30 minutes each day, then help yourself to a second piece of cake—not consistent with your true overall desire to be fit. "Rather than an outcome like losing 20 pounds or saving $10,000, identify a value, like health or financial security, that becomes your focus for the new year," McGonigal says.
Give yourself a break
Think about what you’re pretty sure you can do—then cut it in half. So if you want to save 10 percent of each paycheck this year, aim for 5%. And if you don’t always hit the mark, don’t get discouraged: Even if you saved only 2% this month, that’s still in line with your overarching goal (financial health), so onward and upward!
Simplify your schedule
If you cringe at each ding of your calendar, you might be overscheduling yourself, says Sherrie Bourg Carter, author of High Octane Women.
Book like a therapist
Make appointments 50 minutes long, leaving 10 minutes of flex time to return calls or make up for running long. "Without that cushion, inevitably something will put you off schedule," says Carter.
If it’s time to trim obligations, but everything feels essential, ask yourself: What was my original goal? If you signed up for marathon training to be more active, but now you’re so achy you spend every night on the sofa—there’s your answer.
"When you get pulled away from a task by email, it takes 16 minutes to return to your previous level of productivity," says Carter. Plow through work faster by turning off all bells and whistles until a project is finished.
Pencil yourself in
Slot in time for yourself, even if it’s just a 10-minute walk in the sun. "Then," says Carter, "don’t cancel it!"
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