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Life and Religion

Achieving your goals in 2014
Strategies for success with your New Year’s resolutions
 
Published Wednesday, January 1, 2014
by Michaela L. Duckett

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PHOTO/MICROSOFT IMAGES
Looking to fall in love in 2014? You are in good company. It's one of the most popular resolutions each year. If you want to increase your chances of meeting someone new, get out of the house.

The New Year is here.

That means many of us are busy setting goals and making promises to do better in 2014 than in 2013.

According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, nearly half (45 percent) of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions generally fall into one of four categories – self-improvement and education-related goals, health- and weight-related goals, financial goals or resolutions that involve improving relationships in some way.

The study found that only 8 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually succeed in achieving them. Whether you are looking to lose weight, get organized, improve your financial situation or find love, here are some strategies to help you succeed.

Lose weight

The New Year is the optimal time to renew commitments to improving health and wellness. For many, that involves losing weight.

Every year, millions of Americans make this resolution, only to abandon it a week later and end the year weighing more than when it began. Commit to your goal – mentally and physically. Stay focused and do the work. In order to find results, you must lose the excuses. Success won’t come simply because you wish for it.

Experts also warn against setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations.

“Planning to hit the gym for four hours every day or stick to a super restrictive diet is overwhelming for your body and mind,” said registered dietician nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Jessica Crandall.

Crandall’s advice is to make small, realistic changes that can be sustained over time like adding more whole foods to your diet and eating well-balanced meals. Unsure what a well-balanced meal looks like? Visit choosemyplate.gov for recommendations and tips on getting all the nutrients you need.

Save more, spend less

When it comes to being smarter with your finances, cutting down on your bill at the grocery store is a great place to start. According to U.S. government statistics, food is the third largest expense in most American households.

Saving at the register may seem tedious at first. After all, who has time for clipping coupons and comparison shopping?  But don’t be dismayed. Small changes in your shopping habits can go a long way in making your dollars stretch farther.

One is learning to follow cycles. Practically everything in a grocery store goes on sale at some point, typically at least once every six to eight weeks. Take note of what your family consumes most, and buy those items in bulk when they go on sale – enough to hold you over until the next cycle, if possible.

That said, don’t buy what you don’t need or will not use. On average, it is estimated that Americans waste 40 percent of their food. According to the EPA, over 36 million tons of food reach landfills each year. Imagine what that equates to in dollars and cents.

Another good rule of thumb is to purchase your fresh produce in season, when it is plentiful and less expensive.

Find love

If you are single and looking for love in the New Year, the first thing you need to do is get out of the house. You won’t meet anyone sitting on the sofa, eating popcorn and drinking wine while watching another episode of “Scandal” or “Single Ladies” (or eating pizza while guzzling beer and watching the game).

Get up, fix your hair (or trim your beard), put on something presentable and head over to the nearest bookstore (or library), where you’ll find plenty of books filled with all the advice you need on finding love in the New Year. While you’re there, you may pick up more than a book, you could find a date.

Other great places to casually meet new people include grocery stores, the car wash, a mall, at church or Home Depot. Basically, you can meet people anywhere as long as you are willing to get out there.

Relationship columnist and life coach Demetria L. Lucas, author of “Don’t Waste Your Pretty: How to Make Better Decisions in Life & Love,” encourages singles to be strategic about dating and approach it the way they would a business venture. She believes in creating opportunities instead of waiting for them to occur by chance.

Much of her advice applies to men as well as women. For example, her “Number One Rule” is “Smile, and say hi.”

Lucas also offers the following tips for improving all your personal and professional relationships: know your worth (and act like it), ask for what you want, don’t fear rejection, know that confidence is king and understand that complaining doesn’t make it better.

Get organized

If you’re like the average American, you have more stuff in your home than you know what to do with. Many of us can’t even fit our cars into the garage because it’s filled with things we’ve collected, piled and stored often with plans to sort through and organize later.

If you’re tired of the clutter and want to keep it at bay in the New Year, take inventory of what you have – including what’s packed in the closet, stuffed under the bed or in that infamous junk drawer – and get rid of all the things you don’t need or no longer use.

Then, make space for everything else. Try to create zones based on your family’s natural flow. Does everyone tend to drop off things in the entryway on their way into the house? Try a freestanding coat rack for those jackets that never make it to the closet and end up draped over the furniture.  Create easily accessible storage spaces that match your décor in the living room for commonly used items like remote controls, blankets and gaming equipment.

Before you go to bed each night, make sure everything is in its place.

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