No Risk, All Reward: My Best New Years Resolutions
New year, new you– for real this time
Ready or not, it’s about to be New Year’s Eve.
I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly ready for a fresh start; not because I had a bad year– quite the opposite actually. This has easily been the best year of my life so far. 2021, however, was definitely the worst.
I lost a few family members to COVID, signed a two-year lease with my then-boyfriend (with whom I broke up two months into said lease), endured a shitty surgery followed by months of complications, and entered into a (still unresolved) financial dispute with Uber Eats after being accused of spending $3,000 on McDonald's in a state I’ve never been to. Not ideal if you ask me!
This year, I moved into my first apartment alone, got back into pre-surgery shape, met my creative soulmate, and kicked my comedy career into high gear. It’s been the quintessential year of “work hard, play hard.”
It’s been very cathartic to look back on the last two years of my life and see such clear and rapid growth. As we enter mid-December, I find myself excited to take what I’ve built this year and capitalize on all of the opportunities at hand. But I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this level of success without doing something that has now become my new NYE tradition: setting clear New Year’s resolutions.
The idea of New Year’s resolutions seems ridiculous to many, and that’s understandable. Few of us have actually gone through the entirety of the year actively maintaining a (healthy) fixation on our goals. I’m no exception. Usually, it’s a weight-loss or money-oriented set of goals that have me quitting in March or April at the latest, but I’ve been able to change my ways, and now I’m already working on my resolution plan for 2023.
I have two simple strategies for setting yourself up for success, and you’ll be shocked you never attempted them before. They employ some key rules:
Set honest goals.
Simply setting a New Year’s resolution does not ensure your ability to follow through– that’s something we all know. Worst of all, if you set a goal that you know you can’t meet, you’re inevitably setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. What you’re really doing, then, is giving yourself the future gift of sadness.I don’t know about you, but the gift of failure and sadness is not on my Christmas list this year.
Re-work the language of your resolution(s).
For far too long I’ve set a resolution to lose a certain amount of weight, usually 10-20 pounds depending on how naughty I’ve been throughout the year. I’ve since changed my language and tone. Instead of trying to lose 20 pounds, I’ve set the goal of “achieving a body that represents the discipline I have for my work.” That narrative shift alone has shifted my entire perspective on body weight and health. We forget sometimes that you can absolutely transform your body from top-to-bottom while only seeing a minor difference on the scale. The language change has also reminded me why I’m pursuing the goal. I want to be in peak mental and physical condition, and that’s a sentiment that I can rally behind when the going gets tough. It’s a message rooted in self-care instead of self-punishment. However, the weight-loss goal is just an example. If your goal is to save money, consider nixing phrases like “stop spending so much” or “get out of financial ruin,” and instead try employing more positive language like “create the savings I deserve.” It’s a subtle change, but it goes a long way.
Have a mid-year check-in.
When you start a resolution, quitting is easy because it can feel like a year-long sentence. If you wind up slipping in the first 8 weeks or so, there’s little incentive to pick back up again, as if the year is “ruined.” Setting a mid-year, or even quarterly check-in, can do wonders for ensuring your compliance. Stay on track by keeping yourself accountable.
Don’t feel pressured to communicate your goals to anyone if they’re self-centric.
Your goals and your journey toward prosperity are your business, nobody else’s (unless you specifically need someone else’s help in achieving your goals). Having an accountability partner doesn’t hurt if that’s something that works for you, but overall if you’re doing something for self-improvement, it should be for YOU! If you are dying to tell other people, consider the prospect that you may be doing it for the wrong reasons.
Now that we’ve covered the rules, it’s time to address the magic! The following two resolutions are vastly different but have completely changed my life for the better. They involve no financial risk or investment whatsoever and can be replicated by anyone, so if that sounds exciting to you, consider the following:
This might sound crazy, but one of the best things I’ve EVER done for myself is signing up for every risk-free rewards program I can (for the services and products I use, not every program I can find, just the relevant bunch). One day, while I was shopping at the mall, I visited David’s Tea (we stan). I ordered a drink and was delightfully surprised when the clerk told me that my drink was free! “Wouldn’t it be cool if this happened all the time?” I thought to myself, and suddenly, it hit me. There’s no reason why it can’t.
We live in a world where you can rack up rewards for virtually everything you do. From then on, I’ve signed up for everything that didn’t require signing up for a credit card. That’s a huge distinction to keep in mind. Opening credit cards left and right, no matter the cash bonus you receive, can have damaging consequences on your credit score, especially if you are known to keep balances on cards or fail to keep up with paying on time. Focus on the programs that allow you to rack up points, and make sure to download their corresponding apps. I can’t tell you how many Starbucks points I’ve missed throughout the years by not ordering through the app. If you’re thinking that it may take you a long time to rack up enough loyalty points to cash in on anything, think again. Many of these programs offer bonuses upon signing up, allowing you to cash in earlier than expected. Sometimes, you can earn a free drink or product after your first purchase. If you’re a saver and not a spender, the payoff of waiting to cash in your points can be even more satisfying.
I’ve been in situations where various point balances have fed me between paychecks when things became financially rough. Even if you don’t actively track what you’re earning in your account after purchases, the day will come when you remember your points, and believe me when I say, there are few cooler adult experiences. I’m only half joking about that.
My favorite rewards programs: Starbucks and Uber (RIP).
Create a booklet of goals
On New Year’s Eve last year, I spent the day sober trying to think critically about what I wanted to be CELEBRATING by the time the next NYE hits. This goes along with the sentiment I expressed earlier about reworking your language in a way that hypes you up instead of creating undue pressure. I very intentionally and critically considered goals of varying difficulty, from career and financial goals to smaller habits that I wanted to adopt for the long term. I even threw in a place I wanted to visit before the year was over. On every page of this little construction paper booklet, I wrote the goal and illustrated designs, not because it needed to be pretty, but because I wanted to invest time thinking about these goals for more than just a few moments. I wanted to sit with them and make them and visualize them. It’s truly possible to manifest what you want in life if you can very clearly envision yourself there, down to the details, and mapping out your goals with a little more than just the notepad of your phone can really nail down your thoughts.
The most important part of the process is this: display the booklet somewhere in your home that is visible on a daily basis so that you can remind yourself what you’re working towards. I have mine on my windowsill absorbing sunlight and good energy every day (another personal choice that I recommend), in plain view so that whenever I’m feeling particularly lazy I can pick up the booklet, flip through the pages, and get back to work. My goal booklet was a powerful tool in manifesting my desires for this year, and the only thing I didn’t accomplish from the collection was taking a trip to Maine. I wound up working hard on the other goals and realized that it was not going to work out, but still, the fact that I became so dedicated to the others was enough for me to let that particular one go.
Why not you?
These are life hacks and techniques that have utterly revolutionized the way I live: financially, physically, spiritually, and mentally. We are coming upon a fresh, new year, and with that comes endless opportunities and reasons to better ourselves. Why not make the decision to become your own Super You? You’re only a little bit of time, focus, and a few thousand rewards points away.