With each new year comes the inherent round of goal setting. But sometimes our aspirations turn from motivating to frustrating, stifling our desire to act. We all want to create positive changes in our lives, but what makes a goal more than wishful thinking?
The key is to start with manageable and measurable rules—things that will help you long-term but are easy to implement. Here are seven rules to make 2013 a year of progress.
RULE 1: CALL EARLY
Thanks to texts and Facebook posts, birthdays have become a time when people remember friends but don’t really celebrate them. This year call your pals the day before they are bombarded with messages. By wishing them a happy birthday eve, you’ll get the chance to have an actual conversation; plus you’ll seem on top of it.
RULE 2: WALK MORE
We all have places we drive to when we really could walk—whether it’s a delivery at work, a trip to the post office, or a visiting teaching appointment. Apply this rule: if an errand is less than a five-minute drive, ditch the wheels and use your legs. Your heart will thank you, and the fresh air will clear your mind.
RULE 3: EAT IN
Dining out can be pricey, but sometimes you have a craving or need a break from the kitchen. The good news is most restaurants offer their food to go. Next time you have a hankering for your favorite dish, call in your order. By not tipping waiters or sipping $3 sodas, you’ll save up to 25 percent.
RULE 4: SAVE MONEY
Experts agree you should have at least six months’ worth of living expenses on hand. Try this: dedicate your tax return to your emergency fund. To keep it growing, add 10 percent of each month’s income. Think of it as a bill to pay. This will stock your fund, and the rest can be stored for a rainy day.
RULE 5: SERVE DAILY
Set a reminder on your phone to go off at 5 p.m. If you haven’t done a good deed yet, drop what you’re working on and reach out. Whether it’s a quick note to a friend or holding the door for a stranger, serving others will boost your mood and make someone else’s day a little better.
RULE 6: WORK WEEKENDS
Winter is the perfect time to take on home projects. Make a list of tasks and pick the top three. Set aside the first Saturday of each month for these projects and recruit family members to help. Spring cleaning will be all the more satisfying with these items crossed off your to-do list.
RULE 7: KEEP LEARNING
Didn’t take an economics or cooking class at BYU? Don’t live in the past. Many community colleges offer low-cost options; their continuing ed classes focus on everything from landscaping to languages to martial arts. If you want to see what BYU has to offer, visit ce.byu.edu.
Article written by Emily Smurthwaite Edmonds