GREENFIELD — Making a New Year’s resolution is one thing; keeping it is another.
But making changes is possible with the right attitude and a solid plan.
The Daily Reporter has compiled a panel of experts to talk about some of the most common promises we make to ourselves as we craft our plans for the upcoming year — and how to keep them.
Here, professionals in the areas of wellness, fitness, finance and career success share some of the tips they’ve learned for making your New Year’s goals a reality.
The key to reaching your exercise goal, whether it’s to shed pounds or build muscle, is to come up with specific, attainable goals, said David Flench, director of Hancock Wellness Center in Greenfield.Getting started: The first step to establish an effective exercise regimen is to identify your boundaries, Flench said. If your schedule is packed, and you just can’t seem to find time to exercise, prioritize and figure out what you can sacrifice to make time. If your budget is tight, figure out what costs you can cut to join a gym or an exercise class, he said.Staying motivated: Flench suggests identifying a short-term goal within your long-term plan to avoid running out of steam. If you’re aiming to lose 30 pounds, try losing 5 in the first two weeks, he said. If you hit your goal, reward yourself by buying something related to your resolution, like new running shoes or a Fitbit, he said.
Pitfalls to avoid: When deciding on a resolution, be as specific as possible. Without an identifiable target, it’s easy to lose sight of your goal and give up, Flench said. Turn to an expert for sound advice along the way, he said. “Go to a trusted, reliable source on the subject rather than looking it up on the Internet and not getting it right,” Flench said.
Making your dollars go further is a common New Year’s resolution, said Josh Bach, director of Community Outreach for Financial Education, a Greenfield nonprofit.Regardless of the end goal — buying your dream home, paying off your credit card debt — the key to meeting your finance goals is creating a step-by-step plan, he said.Getting started: In order to change your financial situation, you need to confront it, Bach said. Are you a big spender? Prone to impulse buys? Once you understand how much money you bring in each month and how much money you spend (and perhaps more importantly, what you spend it on), it will be easier to make a plan for paying off debt or saving more, he said.
Staying motivated: Planning to stow away cash as you go is the most difficult part of improving your financial situation, and it’s important to identify small sacrifices to make it easier, Bach said. Once you commit to spending less on your morning coffee so you can put more money toward paying off credit card debt, for example, it’s easier to stick to the plan.
He encourages people to keep the long-term goal in mind, even when progress seems slow. A few dollars a month add up.
Pitfalls to avoid: Don’t forget to plan for these two spending categories, Bach said: emergencies and fun. If you’re reviewing your bank account and bills to decide how much you can put in your savings each month, don’t forget to account for unexpected expenses, such as a broken appliance or car trouble. Just as important is to account for extras — it’s important to treat yourself as a reward for doing well, he said. By planning for both categories, you’ll avoid the pitfall of having to dip into the savings you’ve built.
Perhaps your goal is simple — you want to feel better, about your health, your job or maybe your relationships. Achieving wellness is about finding balance in your life, said Mary Ann Wietbrock, a nurse certified in fitness and nutrition. Wellness encompasses physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social well-being, among other areas, and that can mean something different for every person, Wietbrock said.Getting started: Identifying the stressors in your life is always a good place to start, Wietbrock said. Family troubles, money woes or turmoil at home or work all contribute to a person feeling overwhelmed, she said. Once you pinpoint your trouble spots, look for underlying causes or patterns of behavior that leave you in a rut and brainstorm ways to counteract them.Staying motivated: Don’t try to take on too much at once, Wietbrock said. Sometimes, working on one dimension of wellness at a time is the best way to achieve success. Easy, achievable goals are usually the best bet, she said. Nutritional wellness might begin with planning to cook a healthy meal for your family once a week; mental or emotional health could include setting aside time to be by yourself, reading a book or seeing an old friend, she said.
Those goals can grow and morph over time, Wietbrock said. And don’t shy away from rewarding yourself when you’ve earned it.
Pitfalls to avoid: Good habits you’ve developed can fall victim to a busy schedule, leading you back to behaviors you’ve worked to avoid, Wietbrock said. A good track toward nutritional wellness can be spoiled with a hectic day and a stop at the drive-thru, she cited as an example. Instead, work your healthy habits into your daily schedule, accounting ahead of time for when you might be short on time or energy.