Make 2013 resolutions short-term, fun, and easy! Save the big goals for later.

Let’s face it…2012 was a tough year for all.  Everyone’s spirit could use a major boost.  So, when putting together your list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2013, consider moving to the back-burner all of the long-term, self-disciplinarian and frankly boring standards like losing weight and saving money.  For now, opt for small, easy to achieve, fun goals that increase your quality of life, such as inviting someone new to dinner, trying a horse-riding lesson, or writing an old-fashioned snail mail letter to someone that would appreciate it.

But wait…aren’t resolutions supposed to be painful?  Although striving for a healthy weight and better finances are admirable aspirations, we all know that few of us actually stick to those goals throughout the year.  Our diets lose out to the emotional eating of stress and depression.  Paying down debt becomes secondary to feeding and clothing a family within the current economy.  Basically, we have a lot weighing us down these days.  So, let’s aim to lighten up.  If you are happy and empowered, you will have better success at sticking to the bigger long-term goals.  Come up with resolutions that are quick to accomplish and make a single day just a little brighter, just a little more fun.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1.  Write a snail mail letter to someone.  If you’re not a fan of modern culture and are lamenting the disappearance of quality television shows, unscheduled playtime, and knowing your neighbors, go ahead and embrace the past.  There is something so special and personal about writing (and receiving) a hand-written letter in the mail.  Pick your recipient as either someone who is old enough to appreciate it as a forgotten custom, or someone who is young enough to have never experienced the joy of a good old-fashioned pen pal.
  2. Pick one new activity to try for a single day, preferably something that would be considered below your age or coolness level.  The idea is to change your scenery, take a small risk, and laugh whether you are good at it or not.  There are many good deals for activities on coupon sites like Groupon or LivingSocial: horseback riding, paintball, go-carts, a pottery class, or a swing dance lesson.  
  3. Ditch cable.  Okay, I know this isn’t an “easy” goal for many.  But seriously, think about what impact television is having on your day.  Wouldn’t you be happier watching commercial-free shows through an instant streaming or DVD service?  What about staying informed?  Reading news from internet sources of your choice allows you to avoid a great deal of the mood-crushing sensationalism and frustrating bias that pervades television news.  Most cable companies will allow you to temporarily suspend your service for up to 6 months, so, you can test it out before fully committing.
  4. Place a potted herb by your door, or plant one if you can.  If you like the smell of rosemary, thyme, mint, or others, then inhaling the earthy aroma whenever you enter or leave your residence can provide instant moments of relaxation throughout your day.  Herbs are pretty easy to take care of.  In a pot, they just need sun and a bit of water.  If you can plant them in the ground in the sun, they are practically maintenance-free.  Ahhhhh…
  5. Find a gentler-sounding alarm clock and ring-tone.  Eliminate as many harsh or irritating noises from your life that you can.   Phones come with a variety of sound options that are more subtle than the default sounds and are free.  Or, if you are willing to spend a buck or two, you can purchase a ringtone to hear a favorite song every time someone calls.  Many alarm clocks are now available that work with your Ipod to wake you up to music or podcasts of your choice.  If noise of any kind is a jarring way to start your day, try a sunrise simulator – it connects to an incandescent lamp, and slowly raises the light level in your room over a half-hour, so that you wake up more slowly and naturally.

Do these ideas really count as resolutions?  Absolutely, if they are things for which you might not ordinarily take the time, make the effort, or open yourself up.  Have some fun, put check marks on your list, and get fired up for bigger goals later in the year.  You can do it!