New Year's Eve is always plastered with resolutions as many of us reflect on the past and look towards the coming year with hope and anticipation of better times ahead.
We will think about what went well for us and what we want to do differently, vowing to accomplish many things including losing weight, helping others, earning more money or spending more time with loved ones.
Before you make those pledges as the fireworks light up the night sky, here are the 15 most popular New Year resolutions to help you along.
Spend More Time with Family
The time that families spend together is crucial to build strong bonds, inculcate proper values in young children, help teenagers developed into young adults and provide support for older family members. Most people express concerns that modern life is resulting in them spending less time with their families and creating challenges of keeping up with the kids especially as work patterns change.
In Australia, 48 percent of fathers and 58 percent of mothers with children aged under 5 years feel pressed for time while 43 percent of fathers and 50 percent of mothers with children 15 to 19 years old feel time pressure. In Canada, research of the population from 1986 to 2005 showed that that time spent in the workplace grew significantly from 17 percent working 10 hours or more to 25 percent by 2005. This has a direct correlation to the decreased time spent with family over the 20-year time period, accounting for about 39 per cent of the decline.
As New Year approaches, many people may come to the realisation that their family is the reason that they work so hard. Polls in the US show that 50% of Americans vow to appreciate their loved ones and spend more time with family and friends in the New Year.
Stop Smoking and Drinking
Addictive habits are not easy to quit but it never stops people from making resolutions to stamp out their binge smoking and drinking.
According to Gallup's research 68 percent of smokers in the US are lighting up less than a pack a day with nearly eight in 10 smokers wanting to quit. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK shared that two-thirds of smokers want to quit and advice those struggling to inhale less or stop during set points of the day such as at work.
Brits are also drinking less and less every year since 2002 according to the annual survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which covers England, Scotland and Wales. Men aged 16 to 24 years are consuming only 15 units a week in 2009 compared to 26 units a week in 1999. Some interesting facts about Australia revealed that even this beer-drinking nation's quaffing had plunged to a 65-year low in 2010-2011 with only 4.23 litres consumed per person.
So for those looking to moderate or stamp out their smoking and binge drinking habits in the New Year, you're not alone. There's plenty of online and government resources, support groups and over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy to aid your efforts.
Fight the Flab
Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century particularly among children in developed countries according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Surprisingly Australia is the most obese country in the world as of 2012 with a 26 percent obesity rate while in Europe they range from 7.6% to 24.7%. In China, the number of obese people has risen from 18 million in 2005 to 100 million in 2011, while 500 million or 39 percent are overweight. In the US, 35.7 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children age 2 to 19 are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2012. Trending projections from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reveal that half of US adults will be obese by 2030.
To tame the obesity epidemic and the quest for fitness, more people are choosing to exercise, be it in a gym or outdoors with walking festivals and swimming events as in Australia. With increased awareness of staying healthy and living better and longer, losing excess weight and and getting fit is one of the most popular New Year resolutions.
Consumer debt is often associated with high interest rate instruments such as credit cards and personal loans as well as mortgages. The highest household debt in the world for the past 5 years as a percentage of disposable income is in Australia. It increased 71 percent from 5 years ago to a total of over AUD1.2 trillion in mortgage, credit card debt and personal loans. The average debt of each Australian adult is around USD56,000 compared to Americans at USD44,000.
With money being a big source of stress, many people are resolving to better manage their personal finances in the New Year. You can start by avoiding credit card and personal loan debts altogether. If you have outstanding debt, doing simply things like paying off your mortgage weekly or fortnightly rather than monthly helps. Pay the minimum off on all your credit cards whenever possible and switch to a debit card instead. And don't buy things you don't really need so there's lot more cash in your kitty.
With the increased awareness of climate change and environment degradation, more people are choosing "Green" as the colour of their New Year resolution. It makes common sense when going green helps you and your family to save money while helping to maintain a pristine planet for your future generations. Here are some easy ways to add "Green" to your resolution:
Buy less bottled water - Using an home water filtration system or water filtering pitcher will not only save you thousands of dollars in the new year but will reduce the amount of plastic water bottles ending up in the environment and the millions of barrels of oil used to manufacture those bottles.
Drink less takeaway coffee - Instead of ordering a take away, take a few minutes and enjoy your freshly brew cup of java in its ceramic cup or mug. In addition to increasing your enjoyment levels, you are helping to reduce the 58 billion cardboard cups and carrying sleeves that are thrown away each year. If you still need that takeaway, consider using your own insulated travel mug.
Use less plastic bags - Bringing your own reusable grocery bag or tote bag when you're heading off the market or supermarket is a simple and easy way to help to lessen the 1 million plus plastic bags that end up in the trash every minute.
Walk or ride a bike on occasions - Opting for a walk or cycling to work, the local grocery store or a meal instead of getting into the car will save petrol monies while helping you to keep fit.
Switch to green power options - If you still using the traditional light bulbs, a simple change to the "green" versions will save you monies on replacing light bulbs and as much as 80 percent on your energy use in the year. For those who can, changing to green power like solar, wind and geothermal can also help reduce the environmental impact while saving you monies, with the possibility of even making money by selling excess power from your solar panels back into the grid.
The world around us is moving at hyper-speeds, changing, developing and churning out even more new information every day. Instead of spending time on computer-gaming or watching sports on couch, why not get up and learn something new as one of your new year resolutions.
You don't have to make that extreme leap into enrolling for a university degree but just learning more about what you enjoy simply through short courses and books that are available in your community or online. Elevating your interest in computer gaming by doing a computer programming course could result in new gaming apps that provide a new source of income and help reduce personal debt. Education and up-skilling is becoming a popular resolution as more people choose the option as an avenue to better job opportunities, career advancements or a pay raise in the New Year.
A popular non-selfish New Year's resolution is "doing good" or "doing more good". It can take many forms and many options are available without waiting for a World Humanitarian Day from the United Nations. Volunteering and helping your fellow man is the most common. Some choose to spend more time doing good in the new year through non-profit organisations. Australians can extend their help to needy causes in other nations through non-governmental organisations like UNICEF or help feed local communities through Connections UnitingCare.
Getting organised as a New Year resolution is like spring cleaning your life, be it at home or at work, and usually the result of sitting back and looking at the clutter that has been accumulated in the course of the year. Your home and office is a reflection of how you manage your life. A tidy and organised living and working environment gives your friends and colleagues the impression that you're in control and take pride in how you live and work.
Being organised has simple and immediate benefits. For one, you can find what you're looking for when you need it, which also means less stress especially in the office when you've misplaced those important documents. An organised calendar and schedule allow helps you to get more done in the day allowing you to spend more time with the family, yourself and increase your work efficiency and productivity.
With the office now conveniently in many of our pockets thanks to mobile technologies, the physical boundaries that once defined the workplace has been eliminated. Add to that an 'instant response' society where people expect a quick response irregardless of time of day due to emails, text, tweets, Facebook and the end result is more people working longer hours irregardless of time of day or place.
According to the Australian Work and Life Index, prepared by the University of South Australia's Centre for Work Life, more than 20 percent of Australians spend 48 hours or more at work each week and 60 percent do not take regular holidays. According to the International Labour Organisation, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. Northern Europe leads the world in work-life balance according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based on time devoted to personal activities, employment rate of women with children between the ages of 6 and 14, and the number of employees working over 50 hours a week.
If your New Year resolution does not include migration to Denmark, Norway, Netherlands or Finland, your best bet is to work on achieving some kind of harmonious relationship between your work and family life. It might include coming to work earlier in order to leave earlier, prioritising work items to leave non-urgent matters to the next day or delegating non-core responsibilities to others.
A common response to questions about stress is that it is commonplace and everyone is stressed out in some way. According to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), the number of people treated at hospitals in England for stress has risen by 7 percent in the year to May 2012 with 6,370 admissions. Stress that is not managed or treated can lead to significant medical illnesses and anxiety disorders. It is one of the common day reasons why more women are having difficulties getting pregnant.
No wonder managing stress is high up on the New Year resolution list. There are many sources of help for stress management. For starters, getting at least 7 hours of sleep and a dose of exercise is a simple, easy and daily stress reliever within everyone's reach.
Getting a raise or promotion is a top-of-the-list item in New Year resolutions especially when it means paying off the personal debt. To get that raise or promotion, it is important to understand "when" is the best time to make your request, "what" your organisation truly needs, and prepare a compelling explanation to answer the basic "why" question.
Widening your social circle in the New Year might just help get you that pay raise or promotion. It has become easier in this information age with online social networks like LinkedIn which allows you to set up an online profile, connect with colleagues, former colleagues, customers, suppliers and people with common interests. You can also spent time in professional associations, social clubs and alumni to meet fellow members. As you add this item to your resolution list, remember that networking is a 2-way street. You need to be willing to share and help others out professionally to reap the rewards. Also find networking activities that appeal to you. you're likely to make more new friends if you're having fun.
Strengthen your Relationships
Photo by mynameisharsha of Flickr
A rewarding New Year resolution is strengthening your relationship with loved ones and co-workers. A closer relationship with your partner, children or parents brings benefits in the New Year including more quality time together, morale support in quitting addictive habits and encouragement to get healthier. Improving your relationship in the workplace with the boss and co-workers may mean more understanding when managing stress in the office, help with work-life harmony and the extra leg up at getting that raise or promotion.
It can be difficult to strengthen your relationships at the home front and in the workplace if you're a poor communicator. The New Year is an excellent opportunity to resolve to enhance that skill. Many resources are available including classes for verbal presentations, online written communications courses, and books on effective communications.
New Year resolutions are exciting to make with many people drumming up a list of things they want to change in their lives and goals for the next 12 months. Unfortunately, most people fail to follow through on New Year's resolutions as the hum drum of January's day-to-day matters take precedence over them. As the year wears on, the resolutions may just be swept under the carpet or buried by the dog in the backyard. To increase the probability of achieving your resolutions, don't bite off more than you can chew. Select a few clear outcomes that you really want above all else and stick to doing them regularly. If they can be achieved in sequence, try completing one before moving on to the next. Most importantly, make a resolution to stick to your New Year resolutions.