Resolutions for a Better You: A New Year's Plan
It’s that time again. A new year is upon us, and with it, the urge to make new year’s resolutions.
The signs are everywhere: “New Year, New You!” the headlines chirp. And the urge to roll eyeballs is strong. But there is a space between exhausted cynicism and unrealistic expectation where we’d all like to live. It’s a space called hope.
It’s really not all that weird, after all, to use the rolling-over of the calendar year as impetus for change. Especially when that change could lead to personal betterment.
After all, the three most popular resolutions are all about self-improvement: better eating, better fitness, better job. So maybe not an entirely new you, per se, but definitely a better you. A less-stressed out you. A healthier you. We can all get on board with that.
So let’s not just hope for self-improvement in the anything-is-possible new year. Let’s plan for it.
2018 Plan #1: Better Eating
To make a change to your eating habits, you have to start somewhere—so why not start with where you shop. Chances are, if you buy local food, you’ll be well on your way to clean eating.
Farmer’s markets are the easiest way to find foods that have been grown, raised or produced near you. You can also join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to pick up weekly or biweekly shares of local food. Local farm stands and small shops are great places to shop—and you can even check with the big chain grocery store to see what local produce, dairy, meat, and eggs they might carry.
Cutting out or cutting down on processed foods is also a great step to take along the road to better eating. Start by reading the ingredient list and nutrition information on any boxed or packaged food item you’re thinking of purchasing. Play close attention to the amount of sodium, fat and sugar listed. If it’s alarmingly high, steer clear.
Perhaps the simplest step toward better eating is portion control. Instead of three big meals a day, you could eat five or six small meals. The key to portion control, no matter how many meals you eat per day, is listening to your own body. When you feel full, stop eating. Simple in theory, difficult in practice, at least at first. But developing a new habit takes practice. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t succeed immediately. As the old adage goes, “…try, try again.”
Lauren Schrimmer, Clif's NorCal Marketing Manager, is planning to pursue a more balanced and healthy diet in 2018 by tackling The Whole30® Program, starting January 1. It's a 30-day diet that emphasizes whole foods and eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy.
During 2017, Lauren struggled with health issues that she believes could have been resolved by eating better. "In the past year, I have become wildly aware of how food acts as medicine, delivering specific, needed nutrients to our delicate bodies. By supplying the body with an excess of one thing (like sugar), it's easy to see how the entire body can be thrown off balance."
"I've decided that 2018 is my year to feel strong and balanced within my own body... I'm looking to clean up my food act, eliminate cravings, and expand my horizons in preparing healthy and delicious meals," she said.
Accountability makes a big difference when making a significant change to eating habits, and Lauren is tackling her 2018 resolution along with her partner. She's also planning to use helpful tools like daily food journaling and weekly meal planning.
2018 Plan #2: Better Fitness
The fastest way to ruin your fitness resolution is to start too big, too quickly. This is one of those areas of life in which baby steps will take you further.
Start small and work your way up. Does your resolution involve time at the gym? Great! Don't get crazy. Start with just two visits per week. And don’t overstay until you're sweaty and miserable—leave while you’re still loving it. You’ll be excited to return the next time and the next and the next. Pretty soon, look at that—you’ve developed a healthy gym habit.
Another big fitness pitfall is trying to do something that you don’t enjoy. Hate running, but you’ve signed up for a half-marathon? You might need to rethink your resolution—or the route to your resolution. You don’t have to run to get fit. You can swim or bike or dance or weightlift or aerobicize or yoga your way there. You can even walk your way to fitness. The trick is to find something that you actually enjoy doing, and then do it—more and more and more.
The other big barrier to better fitness is just... life. Hectic, harried, hurried life. Breaking this barrier starts in your head. Because if you tell yourself you don’t have enough time to get fit, then you won’t have enough time. Start by squashing your excuses. Start by looking for small windows. Do you have an hour for lunch at work? Could you eat in 20 or 30 minutes and spend the rest of that time upping your heart rate?
There are countless fitness options you can squeeze into the first 20 minutes after you wake up or the last 20 before you go to bed. All you have to do is get rid of the excuses—and you’ll find the time.
Clif Communications Manager Louisa Brown has set a goal for 2018 to run a trail half marathon with her husband Billy. "I've run a couple of road half marathons, and was looking for what's next. I love to hike and have slowly started to trail run, but usually stick to shorter distances. I would love for trail running to feel easier to me so I could explore longer trails in the Bay Area." she said. "Signing up for a race is my best accountability measure, since it gives me a fixed date to work toward."
2018 Plan #3: Better Job (or Salary)
Sometimes the very idea of searching for a new job—or asking for a raise—is so daunting, you talk yourself out of it before you even begin to try. This time, talk yourself into it. You can do this. You deserve this. You’ve got this.
If you’re in the market to make a career move, your resume could be the first step. Find an online tool that’s right for you and create a more compelling resume. Or check in with a local career center to get professional advice about how to make sure your resume gets you noticed.
Once your resume is squared away, make sure you’re searching for a job in the right place. Steer clear of the huge, popular sites like Craigslist or Monster. Instead, focus on career-specific job sites that target the exact job you’re looking for. To find them, search for the job you want, then add the term “job search site”.
You can also flip the script a bit and search for a specific company instead of a job. Do a little research to find companies who share your values, or companies that are known for treating their employees well and fostering a healthy and happy work environment.
If you’re happy with your current place of employment, but feel you deserve a bump in pay, do the due diligence of research. Savvy employers would much rather keep an employee they’ve already invested in than go out and spend the time, energy and resources required to find—and train—a new one. So your employment status works in your favor. Now you just need to be prepared.
Know when is the right time to ask for a raise. Keep track of your accomplishments and contributions. Do the research to make sure you know your worth—and have an exact number in your head. Then, before you schedule a meeting with your boss, practice salary negotiations with a friend. Remember to approach from a positive angle rather than an aggressive one. And bring your research along—share endorsements from coworkers, proof of how you’ve contributed to the company’s goals and results.
Patience, Patience, Patience
Change takes time and persistence. There will be setbacks and failures. But when February 1st rolls around and you haven’t yet achieved your goal, don’t throw your hands up in despair. Be patient with yourself.
Remember, new habits take a minimum of 21 days (if it’s a small habit, like drinking a glass of water before breakfast). Bigger changes in behavior take longer—66 days, on average, according to Jeremy Dean’s book Making Habits, Breaking Habits.
So be patient, and keep trying. And trying again. You can do this.