As 2016 ends and 2017 begins; New Year’s Resolutions are being made.  I want to look at the five F’s of New Year’s Resolutions:  Family; Food & Fitness; Finances; and Fun.

     Family:  Call your mom, call your dad, call your jerk siblings- they are not going to live forever, but your regrets will.  You have to end the 25 year family feud over a long forgotten broken promise.  Be the adult in the relationship and take to first step in rebuilding family bonds.  Even I will be taking my own advice this year.  After all, family is all we really have.  If you are already in good family relations shape, you can do more than the monthly letter, phone call or email.

            On the other hand, the New Year is a great time to review and end ‘toxic’ relationships.  These two links might help you figure this out:  http://elitedaily.com/dating/13-signs-youre-toxic-relationship-ruining-life/966801/   and   http://www.yourtango.com/experts/yourtango-experts/warning-signs-toxic-relationship-expert  .  Life is too short to be in toxic relationships.  You might need to seek help to end theses.

     Food & Fitness:  Most New Year’s resolutions revolve around food & fitness: improving ones health through healthy eating and exercise.  No need to debate whether cross-fit is better than swimming or cycling is less impactful then walking.

            Food plays an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  We all know the basics:  avoid fried foods, cut back on salt and do not over do donuts.  Moderation is the key- you do not necessarily have to ‘cut out’, but rather ‘cut-back’.  However, you can stack the deck in your favor by eating healthier.  ‘Swapping’ is a great a method:  swap a healthy food for a less healthy food; such as fruity yogurt is swapped in for ice cream.    Fresh fruits are swapped in for juice [sadly juice is laden with added sugar! So read the label!].  Home-made is swapped for store bought or restaurant [which is a cross-over with Finances: home-made is usually cheaper].

            Fitness is the other half of the healthy living equation.  If you have been in a continuous fitness program for the past 10 years, great, keep up the good work.  If you are getting back into a healthy life style; even better.   First see your primary care physician; just to be sure you are healthy enough to begin an exercise program.  Your doctor might even point you in the right direction:  what exercises to do and just as importantly, what exercises to avoid.  The Mayo Clinic has a five step plan which is a great starting point:    http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20048269  .   In case you have not been working out in a long, long while, starting slow is the best way to go:  http://lifehacker.com/how-to-start-exercising-when-youre-already-overweight-1521317096 .

            Two keys for improving your health are: set reasonable goals and understand this is a long term, life style change, not a short term ‘60 day, lose 20 pounds’ event.  Results might not be felt or seen for a while.

     Finances:  Increase your income and decrease expenses.  For most of us, increasing our income is more challenging then decreasing our expenses.  This resolution does not have to be a ‘shocker’:  no more dinning out, no more new clothes or no more vacations.

            Increasing income might be asking your boss what you need to do to get a raise or promotion.  If this is a potential career ending move then do not ask and it might be time to get a ‘new’ job.  Job searches can takes months so begin early.  These links can help make a difficult process easier:  http://www.job-hunt.org/recruiters/finding-job-while-employed.shtml  and http://www.salary.com/12-tips-for-finding-a-new-job-without-losing-your-current-one/ ; this link is sort of ‘click-baitish’ but the ideas seem very helpful.  Remember, a job search is a covert operation and you need to be disciplined with your discretion: no one needs to know.

            Decreasing expenses can be a challenge if you are looking for the ‘big one’.  The one expense if cut that will send you down the highway of financial independence.  It might be easier to cut a little in many different areas from your budget.  You should first try to control what expenses you can control.  These links can give you areas where cutting does not have to be painful:  http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-cut-your-spending-this-week   and http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/30-ways-cut-your-monthly-expenses.html  .

     Fun:  Fun is very personal: your vision of fun is probably different than mine.  Fun is time dedicated to doing ‘nothing’, which my superpower: this is just mental and physical relaxation time.  A quick Google search of ‘free things to do’ will turn up hundreds of websites and ideas.

Whatever your New Year’s resolution is or isn’t, go slow and do not quit when the results are not happening as fast as you planned.

     Start low and slow.  Expectation management is very important.  You have made your New Year’s Resolutions and critically got your significant other’s buy-in,  now what?  Things take time and it is important for you to have reasonable expectations:  losing two pounds per week; saving $50 per month; or calling mom and dad once more per month.  Are these doable resolutions?  Only time will tell and only you will know the answers: this is your plan.  As the year passes, you can always adjust your plan to meet the reality.  If your plan is too aggressive, the goals too lofty, they might not be achievable and your frustration level will increase.

     No need to get frustrated, you are in control of you.

 

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