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Katy England Katy England
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Testing your resolve

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Testing your resolve Testing your resolve

There are jokes about New Year's resolutions. How quickly they fade, how silly we are to make them, and all that. But there is a reason for wanting a fresh start a chance to say, I can make myself a better person. The first of the year is a great mental jumping off point a blank page and a new date to write on your checks (people still write checks, right? I mean every once in a while).

So here are some gentle ways of remaking yourself this New Year. Because, like you, I haven't won every resolution battle I've started but I still think there is great worth in trying. So here are some ideas, a little off the beaten path physical mental fiscal and spiritual are all things that we can maybe try to be resolute about.  I felt that breaking them into those categories made sense. They overlap in many ways, so don't feel like something is out of bounds just because you can't fit it in the box.

Physical mental fiscal - spiritual 

Physical

Signing up for a gym membership is something many people do at the first of the year. And this can be the way to go a financial commitment, as well as an element of social obligation that may give you the kick in the butt you need to stick with your resolution.

There are loads of different classes find one that suits your physical level and your personality. Like dance music and loads of cardio? Check out Zumba classes.

But improving your health needn't simply be going to a gym three days a week. There are other small changes you can make to your life that can also help. Consider these:

Learn to cook. Being in control of your own menu can help you eat healthier. When you remove the mystery from the meal, it's suddenly easier to eat healthier when you know exactly how much sugar or butter you're putting in a dish. This can also help you save money.

Floss. Full disclosure, this was my resolution last year. I was tired of going to the dentist only to squirm through the pain and guilt about the state of my gums. So I resolved to floss. Every. Single. Day. Not the most spectacular of resolutions, to be sure but no cavities in over a year plus way less awkward conversations with my dentist and hygienist.

Go outside: Yes, even in the dead of January you can go outside, whether you want to stroll around the block and bask in a winter wonderland or take up an activity like cross country skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing or downhill skiing. The great thing about all of these activities is that there are many people who enjoy them. Poll your friends, find out who already does one of the activities that you'd like to try and ask them to teach you. This is a great way to bond with a friend or family member and will improve both your lives. Two for one deal.

But the point is, think outside the box when it comes to your health. Making a small change can have big long-term impact on your life.

Mental

Education is the obvious choice when you talk about mental health. Taking classes at a local college comes to mind, depending on your financial state. But there are also classes that you can take through adult education classes at vary affordable rates. Many businesses offer classes in jewelry making, wood working and even blacksmithing. 

But if formal classes aren't your thing, consider getting involved with a local community group anything from volunteering to amateur theatre.

Try expanding horizons that you already enjoy. Like seeing movies? Try checking out some independent films. 

Pick up a new hobby like photography, or learn how to knit or change your own oil. There are classes and many people willing to help you learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby. 

Part of this can be evaluating how you are spending your time. Do you always wish you would find the time to read more, but suddenly find out that you're just watching TV or surfing the web? Budgeting your time for screens can help open up windows to doing more with spare time.

Financial

Everyone wants more money. But odds always seem to be against winning the lottery. So what are some other ways to save?

Monetize your hobbies. Love to knit? Take photos in your spare time? Are you a jeweler, a painter, a potter, a gardener? A baker? You can try selling your wares. You don't have to draw up a business plan (unless you want to), but many places sell on consignment. You could open an online store on Etsy or Ebay.

Being able to visualize savings can be a great step towards helping you save. One way I found through Reddit was a weekly challenge where you save in weekly increments that start at one dollar and increase by one dollar each week. So, first week is $1, second week you sock away $2. It's an easy way to start. By the end of it, it may get a little rough to put down more than $50 per week, but it's worth it when you've saved more than a grand. Or, if you have the fortitude to put aside $26 per week, you end up with the same amount. It makes for a less stressful holiday season.

But you can also reevaluate what you spend your money on. Websites like Mint.com can help. 

If you're looking for more advice than saving nickels and dimes for spending money, you should consider a financial advisor. Take advantage of tax season to figure out some ways to save and look over your retirement plans.

Spiritual

This is something we often overlook: our inner selves. We tend to be very critical of ourselves. I'm not saying you need to be a hedonist, only indulging in pleasures. But you might also want to cut yourself a little slack.

It can be healthy to learn more about yourself, whether you decide to take up meditation, take a spiritual journey (physically or metaphorically), pursue a dream that you set off to the side or simply save some money for a massage.

But it can also mean getting more involved in your church, increasing your charitable giving or simply finding a way to connect yourself to your higher power.

Whatever your resolution big, small or medium find a support system for it. Is your partner starting a jogging regimen? Go with. Join a book club or knitting circle. Sharing your resolution can strengthen it. 

Don't let your setbacks end your resolve. We're all human and life has a way of happening whether we're ready or not. You may find your schedule doesn't accommodate that particular class you had your heart set on but that is just a bump in the path. It needn't be the end of it.

You're not alone in struggling, but even thinking about a resolution is a step in the right direction.

Were you able to make and keep a resolution last year? Tell us all about it on Facebook or leave a comment on our website.

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