Three Easy Resolutions for 2016

I love making resolutions. I make them at New Year’s, at mid-year, and in the Fall when we’re headed into the end of the year.  Even if you’re not the type to make resolutions, here are three I hope you’ll consider:

  1. Move – Whether you hit the gym, run in the neighborhood, walk in the park or dance around the house, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you move. You can sit on your backside for 23-1/2 hours a day, but for at least 30 minutes, get up and shake up your system. In addition to helping any “lose 10 pounds” resolution you may have, this one also helps your other bottom line:  one of the big contributors to disability is stress, and one of the biggest unexpected costs in retirement is medical expenses.  Exercise improves your health (and its associated costs) in many ways, and boosts your mood.
  2. Love – It takes 20 seconds for a hug to change your body chemistry for the better. According to the University of North Carolina study, after 20 seconds you get the oxytocin release that reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and supports the bond you have with that person. If you’re looking to build meaningful relationships, one easy way to do that is to hug a little longer. Your longer hugs can benefit your heart and blood pressure, too.
  3. Save – You might guess this resolution would be on my list, but it’s not what you think. Often we’re pulled in multiple directions by the different threads of our lives, and at the end of the day we can end up feeling, well, frayed. This year, make a resolution to save a part of your day or week just for you. It won’t make you a bad parent, a weak employee, or a selfish spouse. It may just help you do all those other things better. We each need something that’s just ours. A mediation practice, learning a musical instrument, cultivating a sport. It might seem frivolous, but those 15 or 30 minutes of focus on this thing that’s yours can take you out of whatever the rest of life may be throwing at you, and give you not only a break, but also something you can never lose.

These three goals can leave you with amped endorphins, oxytocin, and joy. And who knows what other resolutions you could tackle after these? Imagine what your life could be like – working towards all those other goals we all set – with an energetic, relaxed, and joyful countenance?  If your financial planning goals are intended to ultimately lead you to a happy and fulfilled life, aren’t you making a good start towards meeting those goals with these three?


In the last few years, I’ve also added a “mantra” for the New Year, a phrase or saying that will encourage me in certain ways. The first year I did it, I had realized that I had become way too attached to certain outcomes, a sure path to unhappiness. My mantra that year was “Just Say Yes.”  Yes to the movie the friend suggested, yes to speaking at an event I wasn’t sure about, yes to going with the flow (and “no” to trying to control everything).  Shonda Rhimes, one of my heroes, did a “Just Say Yes” year recently and loved the way it opened up her life so much she took time away from writing her television juggernaut to write a book about it:

Like many people, I also have a weight loss goal for the New Year. And I want to push myself professionally by sharing more personally, a sometimes intimidating act. So for 2016, I have two mantras: “I’d rather be slender and sexy” (for when I really want a cheeseburger and a glass of wine) and “Don’t be afraid” (for the many times when my left brain wants to thwart my right brain and stop me from moving forward with a new idea). We all have scripts that run in our heads, and changing them up from time to time can help push you to do something you might not do otherwise.  Think about what your best friend might tell you when you’re stretching to meet a goal, and put that good voice in your head.

So for 2016, in addition to hitting the gym regularly, hugging my friends longer, and taking French lessons to regain my language skills, I’ll also be watching my diet and pushing myself a little further in the office.  I’m betting the first three will help me stick to the last two.

No one ever said resolutions have to be tough. You’re just setting your intention to do something. Walk, hug, cultivate something you love.  It’s your life, you get one shot.  You have 365 days to do your best to make this year the one you want it to be.