There’s definitely a trick to creating and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. Most of us falter after the first couple of weeks, but there are plenty who seem to thrive. There are a few standard always-broken resolutions: lose weight, stop smoking, diet, save money, but if we want to actually stick by our goals, we just have to know how to do it. Here are great New Year’s resolutions for 2014 and the simple alternatives to help you keep them.

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Goal: “Eat Healthier, Exercise More, Drink Less”

Solution: Sign Up For a Race or Sport

The easiest way to change your health is to sign up for a few road races or join a triathlon group. You can also find coed soccer or a club kickball team and join them with friends. When you’re active all the time, especially if you’ve got 8am ten-mile runs, you’re naturally going to drink less and eat better.

Making this simple change for 2014 will be a great way to cover those three resolutions that most of us can’t keep for one month, much less a year! Check out some races or club groups in your area, or sign up for a club team at your University. Make it fun and social and you won’t even notice that you’re partying less or eating more vegetables.

Goal: “Manage Debt and Save Money”

Solution: Spend Less

This is the major solution for getting out of debt or saving money. As a college kid, there are some things that you just can’t help spending your money on – tuition, food, and board – but there are plenty of ways to spend less money in other areas. Don’t go out to eat with your friends, instead make more food at home, or take advantage of the dining hall.

Drink less, because alcohol is pretty pricey. Make less money available. Move the majority of your funds from checking to savings, and leave your credit card behind. If you’ve got an income, set up an automatic $25 transfer from checking to savings each month. Give yourself just enough cash to get through the week or month, and don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely need.

Goal: “Volunteer”

Solution: Make a Commitment to Volunteer

Yep, there’s no way around this one. If you want to volunteer more, just do it. You have to make the commitment early by joining up with a group like Girls on the Run or a mentorship program like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

If you make a commitment to a person or an organization, you’re much more likely to follow through. You can also increase your chances by getting friends to sign up with you, and by choosing something you enjoy with relatively low difficulty.

Goal: “Be a Better Student”

Solution: Make it Personal – Go to Office Hours

If you are having trouble learning in a class, paying attention to your professor, or doing the work, the first thing you should do is go to office hours. Pick a random thing to speak to your professor about, and then go spend at least 20 minutes talking about it in office hours. You will get to know your teacher on a more personal level, and he or she will get to know you.

Once you’ve made this step, you will feel a little guiltier about skirting an assignment, and a little more comfortable speaking up in class. Making a personal connection to the person teaching your classes will motivate you to follow through.

Goal: “Get More Sleep, Sleep Better, Wake Up Earlier”

Solution: Ditch the Caffeine & Spend Time Outside

You don’t want to hear this, but it must be said: If you want to get better sleep, you should change your caffeine habits. You might not have to remove coffee from your day entirely, but change from coffee-all-day to morning-coffee-only. Eliminate all kinds of caffeine – coffee, tea, soda – from your afternoon and evening, meaning you don’t drink it after 3 or 4pm.

You want about 8 hours between your last cup and your bedtime; so adjust the timing for your last cup accordingly. Another helpful tip is to spend at least an hour in natural light each day. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but if you spend your entire day under fluorescent lighting, your body won’t have any idea when the sun is up or down.

Drink your coffee or tea in the morning, walk the long way to or back from class during the day, and try to do some assignments near a window away from artificial light.


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Image: Ed Donahue