According to research, a quarter of people who make New Year’s resolutions have already failed to keep them by the second week in January. Considering we’re now into February, there’s a high likelihood that you or someone you know has slipped back into some habit (like substituting a “meal” with Hot Pockets and Doritos) they were trying to kick or stopped doing that self-improvement task they were planning on sticking with (you’re telling me I’m supposed to do these P90X DVDs for 90 days?!).
Thankfully, New Year’s resolutions are not legal agreements, and failing them doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It simply means you’re an ambitious one—maybe just a little too ambitious.
If you’ve already failed to keep your January 1 resolutions, never made any in the first place or even want to add a few more to your list, here’s a look at five—relatively easy—resolutions to make for (the rest of) 2016.
Smell the Roses More
For goal oriented people—the type who make New Year’s resolutions, it’s easy to let checking the next thing off the list occupy most of your time and energy. That’s the double-edged sword of being driven: You may be able to accomplish a lot of your ambitions, but because you’re always looking toward the next one, you never get to enjoy where you are at.
Resolve to give yourself a break and take time every day to actually enjoy life: Engage in fun, meaningful conversations; actually go out to lunch; take part in a hobby that has nothing to do with work.
If you spend all of your time trying to get to the next phase in life or hit that big career milestone, before you know it, you’ll be looking back at all of the time you spent worrying about the future instead of actually focusing on the great stuff about the present.
Engage in Physical Activity You Actually Like Doing
One of the reasons so many exercise-related resolutions fail is because—let’s be honest—for most of us, exercise isn’t much fun. It’s not necessarily that we’re not capable of becoming a marathon runner or Crossfit pro in the next 12 months, but maybe we don’t achieve those goals because running for hours on end or attempting insane amounts of pull-ups isn’t all that enjoyable for everyone who isn’t genetically predisposed to like pain and suffering.
If you’ve already ditched your 2016 fitness regime, it’s still not too late to get in shape. Instead of trying to tackle the most extreme exercise routine you can find, try and find something you actually want to do. Join a sports league, start cycling, take up surfing or snowboarding. Don’t make it all about discipline and nearly impossible fitness goals (this isn’t about qualifying for the Olympics); instead, make it about having fun and hanging out with people you like being around.
Cut Back on ‘Guilty Pleasure’ TV
If we’re honest with ourselves, spending three hours watching Real Housewives or Storage Wars reruns probably isn’t the most productive use of a Tuesday night.
There’s nothing wrong with vegging out in front of the TV for a while, but the least you can do is to try and cut back on all of the reality filler in favor of programming that actually has something to say. Check out a Netflix documentary about a current event (The Propaganda Game and Virunga are both great), some of this year’s Oscar-nominated films or even one of the acclaimed TV shows (like Better Call Saul, Cosmos, Mad Men) that are raising the bar on the new golden age of TV.
Instead of seeing your Netflix time as a way to shut your mind off, take the opportunity to engage it by watching stuff that challenges your convictions, assumptions about the world or artistic sensibilities.
Find Some New Causes to Support
Maybe you haven’t been volunteering at the library every week like you were planning on, but it’s never too late to help others. Instead of only making rigid schedule commitments to help out at your church or a local nonprofit organization (though there’s nothing wrong with doing so if you have the ability to), take some time to learn about problems facing communities around the world and the groups helping them.
Whether it’s becoming educated about a big, global issue like the Syrian refugee crisis or a local effort to help at-risk kids in your own town, resolve to find new causes to make a difference with.
Sure, it’s easy to get burned out or to feel like you aren’t making a big enough difference, but by constantly learning about new causes, organizations and initiatives to support, you may be able to find ways to make the most impact with your specific skills, resources and talents.
Start Reading Devotionals You Enjoy
OK, so maybe your plans to read through the entire Bible in the original Greek and Hebrew three times in 2016 isn’t panning out. You can still get a daily dose of spiritual insight and encouragement without dedicating hours of your evening to scholarly theological study.
Good daily devotionals offer short, Scripture-based entries, designed to be read all year round. And, even if you miss a day (or even a week) here or there, most of them are concise enough that catching back up isn’t an overwhelming prospect. And, if you’re extra ambitious, try combining a classic (like Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest) with a contemporary favorite (like Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling).
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.