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A Toolkit for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Here's a toolkit for how to keep new year's resolutions.

New Year’s Day has come and gone but we’re still in primetime for resolutions. Whether you’re already looking at your resolution begrudgingly, or if you want to start this new-year, new-you thing a little late into the season, here are some tools to help you get on track with your goals for the coming year.

Life on a budget

Budgets can be difficult, especially if you’ve never really had to make one before. So for those of us who have made this the year of getting out of debt, saving more, and spending frugally, having some tools to help can make all the difference.

To set your budget up, look to You Need a Budget (YNAB), a digital budgeting app that helps you keep track of everything — your spending, saving, debt, and more. YNAB budgeting follows one basic rule: every dollar has a job. That means when you get your paycheck, you decide where every dollar of it will go — whether its toward rent, toward savings, toward eating out, or just toward fun.

YNAB can be more than just being a budgeting app, too, though. A subscription gives access to a whole host of financial lessons to help you keep on your budget and use your dollars as effectively as possible. Best of all, students can receive all these services free for 13 months (which will cover this entire new year and more)!

If you’re already on solid ground with your budgeting, but are looking for some ways to beef up your finances, I recommend Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Sethi focuses specifically on financial tips for those of us in our 20s and 30s, and his tips can help you establish your financial health regardless of whether you’re about to graduate, looking to buy a house, or just want to build up your credit.

Break free from the phone

Chances are good that you use your phone too much. Who isn’t addicted to a smartphone? There are plenty of apps that help track your smart phone usage, but rather than adding more to your phone, the simplest solution is to subtract. So, if you’re hoping to cut back on your smartphone usage this year, consider “bricking” your phone.

Bricking your phone merely means to strip out all the most addictive parts of smartphone usage. It starts with two simple steps. First, remove all the non-essential apps (like games, social media, or streaming services). This action leaves your phone only for calling, texting, banking, and other uses that are not likely to keep you staring at your device for three hours a day.

Second, turn on grayscale. By removing the bright colors from your smartphone, you also remove the positive associations your brain attributes with bright colors. Pretty soon you’ll be filling your free time not on your phone but with whatever positive activity you wish you were doing instead of scrolling through Twitter every day.

Diets, not boredom

The stereotypical New Year’s Resolution is, of course, weight loss. Coming after three months of Halloween candy, Thanksgiving leftovers, and Christmas cookies, January is a natural time to look at the scale and want to dial it back. The only thing more stereotypical than a resolution to lose weight in January is burning out on that resolution in February.

The easiest way to fight diet burn-out is to keep yourself from becoming bored with your meals. That’s where a good cookbook comes in! Pick a cookbook that you find appealing and fits the diet plan you want to follow — and then work through the entire cookbook in the year! Not only will this give you phenomenal fodder for Instagram feeds, but it will help ensure that your meal plan has enough variety to keep you from throwing in the towel after a week.

This year, I’m working through Twelve Months of Monastery Soups: A Cookbook, which has recipes full of nutrient rich broths and hearty vegetables.

Seeking silence

If 2020 is the year you plan on starting meditation and mindfulness practices, then Hallow is the app for you.

Hallow pulls together the meditation and prayer traditions of the Catholic Church with modern technology to help support you on your path. With customizable options and a built-in journal, Hallow helps you pray in a way that is most comfortable to you and keep track of what is working best. Plus, with each subscription purchased, Hallow gives one away.

There are more than 300 guided prayer and meditation sessions on Hallow, with content that ranges in length and time of day to fit into your schedule. Of course, as with any resolution, intentionality and setting aside time to work on it can make or break your goal — so pick a time each day to complete one of the daily reflections (easily found under the “Dailies” tab in the app).

We may be only a few weeks into the new year, and it can be daunting to face the remaining 50, but hang in there. You are on a journey to becoming a better person, and that impulse to seek goodness comes from a deep place within us — a place where God speaks to our hearts.

Resolutions are a way to remember that time is precious. We don’t have an infinite amount of time in this life — let’s make the most of it!

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