It’s that time again. Many people view the beginning of a year as a time to make a fresh start and address concerns that have been bothering them. New Year’s resolutions are a brave statement to the world that things are going to change. These resolutions sometimes only last a few hours, days or weeks; but there are some people who are able to fulfill their commitment to themselves and reach the desired goal.
Resolutions can be made by people of any age, but time and financial resources are two factors that are important to consider when developing an idea and a plan. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
Start small. Focus your attention on one goal instead of several to keep your life manageable. Break down this goal into a series of steps that will be quicker and easier to accomplish. Reaching these smaller milestones will be an encouragement for you to continue working toward your larger goal.
Make sure the steps to reach your goals are practical. A big dream or lofty goal may be admirable, but if the steps to get there are unreasonable, you are only setting yourself up for failure.
Reward yourself. When you complete a smaller step, give yourself a tangible treat to celebrate your success and keep yourself focused on moving forward.
Find a mentor or cheerleader. Is there someone who has accomplished a similar goal who can share helpful tips and will truly understand when struggles occur? Or do you have a friend or family member who has given you helpful support and encouragement in the past?
Develop accountability. Keep a journal or share your desired routine with another person and have a schedule for conversations to share your progress. This accountability can help provide additional motivation when the going gets tough.
Recruit a partner. Do you have a friend, neighbor or coworker who would also like to make a similar lifestyle change? A regular exercise program or reading a long novel may be more interesting and enjoyable when shared with the right person.
Do some research and locate tools to help you succeed. We are living in the information age, so find a way to let information work for you. Older adults may not realize that appropriate information may be slightly different for them than for younger adults.
Here are a few suggestions for specific websites with regard to certain goals for older adults.
Goal: Regular exercise
One of the main benefits of exercise is healthier aging. Looking at the major causes of premature death, exercise greatly reduces the risk heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. It boosts mood, improves immunity, leads to better sleep, and can improve your ability to remain independent.
The National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (https://www.nia.nih.gov/exercise-toolkit) offers a variety of information about how to get started with an exercise routine that is appropriate for you.
Technology can help you monitor your efforts by providing concrete data about your activities. Watches like the FitBit or the Apple Watch can track the number of steps you take, your heart rate, and the quality of your sleep.
Goal: Eat healthier
Eating well not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but it also can reduce the risk of certain chronic conditions or lessen their symptoms.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.choosemyplate.gov) is now using the MyPlate model instead of the former food pyramid. This website contains information about helping people assess their current eating patterns and learn methods of healthier eating through reading food labels, time saving techniques, meal planning/recipes, and saving money at the store. Specific information for older adults is available under the Life stages section.
The National Council on Aging (https://ncoa.org/older-adults/health/diet-nutrition ) offers tips and videos about topics such as diet and disease, the importance of fluids, eating healthy on a budget, and facts about malnutrition (which is fairly among older adults!).
Goal: Plan for the future
Maybe your goal is to shield yourself and your family from predictable threats. Being unprepared for the later years of life will probably cause emotional turmoil and financial strain for your whole family. If you would like to understand these threats and learn how to shield yourself from them, we have resources for you.
Keystone Elder Law answers frequently asked questions in 5-MINUTE videos on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/@KeystoneElderLaw/videos ). For a more comprehensive overview, you could attend a WEEKLY ONLINE estate planning workshop (https://keystoneelderlaw.com/workshops/ ), or attend an IN-PERSON event in Carlisle, Camp Hill, or Enola at the end of January (flyer is available on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KeystoneElderLaw or by email Karen@KeystoneElderLaw.com ).
Every journey, whether small or great, has a starting point. The first few steps may be scary or uncomfortable, but without them your goal will remain hidden in a closet. Are you ready to get started? You may find that your journey will be as fulfilling as your final destination.
A fear of failure may prevent some people from developing resolutions in the first place. Even if someone begins to work on a resolution and then “falls off the wagon,” changes that can lead to reduced stress, healthier lifestyles and greater personal contentment are worth continuing to pursue. If you are unable to cross the finish line of a certain goal on the first attempt, take what you have learned and re-evaluate and re-adjust your goal and the steps to reach it. Then demonstrate your determination by re-attacking the plan.
What would you like to accomplish in 2023?