For those who relish the chance to turn over a new leaf, what better time is there to do so than at the turning of the new leap year, when 366 days lie ahead, full of hope and opportunity?
For those who do partake in New Year’s resolutions, there are a few subjects that do the rounds each year, but what are they and how can we improve our chances of sticking to any resolutions made?
1 Lose some weight
Unsurprisingly, the season of overindulgence is quite often followed by promises to lose weight. This can, however, be a difficult promise to keep, as the memories of Christmas fruitcake fade, and temptations of fast food return.
Improve your chances by adopting a lifestyle change instead of following fad diets that can be unhealthy and reap short-term results.
Small dietary changes such as cutting out or reducing sodas, alcohol, and processed and refined foods, while increasing consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, water and whole grains can go a long way in shedding weight. If you slip up one day don’t give up, just get back on the wagon the next day. Once you see the benefits of healthy eating, these slip ups will happen less and less.
2 Get fit
Even if weight loss is not your main aim, getting fit may be, and January brings with it a rapid increase in gym goers, roadside runners, and Pilates pupils. This surge of motivation is great, but the difficult part is keeping the activity up.
Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, so if you are new to exercise don’t jump in at the deep end and attempt a marathon. Build up your fitness by undertaking at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day; keep it varied so you don’t get bored; and remember to accompany it with healthy eating.
Those who struggle with self motivation may find a team sport is a better option. The couch is less likely to claim you if there is a group of people waiting for you on the pitch.
3 Spend more time with family and friends
For those with family in Cayman this can be as easy as taking more regular trips down the road, meeting for meals out, or having weekend beach picnics. For those with family overseas, this good intention may be harder to fulfil.
Skype and FaceTime can help us keep in contact daily, and access to good flight routes can increase the number of face-to-face visits we can make to overseas family. Our beautiful surroundings also make it more likely that extended family will to do the hard work and visit us here instead!
4 Stub out cigarettes
Whether you go cold turkey, use the aid of nicotine replacement, or phase out the cigarettes one by one, this can be one of the most beneficial New Year’s resolutions.
We all know the dangers of smoking – increased risk of lung cancer and other cancers, heart disease, stroke and numerous other health issues, as well as the danger of exposing others to the risks of secondhand smoke.
Quitting can be incredibly tough, and you may have a few setbacks on the way, but keep at it! By giving up, associated risks reduce, which may result in a longer and healthier life. Remember these benefits, as well as monetary ones, and take it one day at a time.
5 Ban the booze
Alcohol is another vice people may try to decrease or even cut out altogether. Again, this can be rough, especially when surrounded by others drinking.
January is an excellent time to quit or cut back, depending on your final aim, as many undertake a dry January to give livers and wallets a well deserved rest.
Drinking soda water with a slice of lime while socializing can help you avoid questions or peer pressure from friends who are still drinking. Alternatively, avoid bars altogether until your willpower is strong enough, by arranging non-alcohol related activities for you and your friends such as bowling, watersports, mini-golf or visits to the cinema.
6 Help others
With so many charities and voluntary organizations in Cayman it can be easy to give either your time or money to those in need.
Organizations such as HospiceCare, Cayman’s ARK and Pink Ladies Volunteer Corp. can always benefit from people’s time or monetary donations. Animal lovers can volunteer or donate to the many animal rescue organizations such as the Cayman Islands Humane Society, One Dog at a Time, Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts, or Canine Friends.
Or, keep your charity closer to home by helping out friends and family members. Running errands, fixing things around the house, or simply lending an ear to those who need to talk will be more appreciated than you realize.
7 Add to your talents
Bettering one’s self is usually the aim of a New Year’s resolution, and for many this means improving their skill set. There are a lot of extra-curricular classes available in Cayman for a wide range of interests.
Diving is a popular recreation to learn, and other water based activities such as sailing, kite-surfing and paddle boarding all have classes available with excellent instructors.
On land, language, art and cooking classes will all teach useful skills, as will wine tasting courses or learning a musical instrument.
8 Spend less to save more
Cayman is an expensive place to live, and there are many areas of our budget where it is nearly impossible to cut costs. There is, however, wisdom in the altered adage “take care of the cents and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
Save money on gas by carpooling with friends, stop buying coffee at cafes, or lessen the grocery bill by taking advantage of weekly deals in the supermarket and meal planning so you don’t buy unnecessary ingredients. Small changes such as these will add up.
9 Leave on a jet plane
While for some, travelling may tie in with spending more time with family and friends, others may wish to travel to far flung locations they have never been to, which are far away from anyone they know!
Our proximity and ease of access to hubs such as Miami and New York, and even the covenience of getting to London on the direct flight, makes trips around the world possible, and sometimes not too painful. Closer to home, the various countries of South America and the Caribbean, or bustling cities or quiet backwaters of the U.S. are all a hop, skip and jump away.
10 Organize your life
Many yearn to be that person, who never forgets a birthday, and never has to forage through messy piles of paper on their desk to find that one important appointment card. Thus, organization may also feature as a popular resolution.
Traditionalists can invest in a calendar diary, while the more tech savvy can make more consistent use of their phone calendars to input appointments and general reminders. They may also wish to download one of the numerous organization apps on the market which make living a busy life that much simpler.
How to succeed
A 2012 study by the University of Scranton revealed weight loss, improving organization, and reducing spending as the top three resolutions made. However, the same study showed that of the nearly 50 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent succeed.
To increase your chances of success, try to ensure your goals are SMART. These are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, instead of making the wide resolution to “be healthier,” aim to lose a certain amount of weight, or improve your personal best 5K time by a certain amount.
Make sure your goal is reasonable, has a deadline, and is measurable so that you can assess your progress.
Most importantly, it should be a goal that is meaningful and relevant to you and your life.