New Year's Life Hacks


By Veronica Chavez

Photo courtesy of Christmas Stock Images.

Welcome to 2015.

Like any other year, many people spend this premier day not just hungover, but mentally swimming through a stormy sea of emotions. For some, New Year’s Day is spent reminiscing on how good (or bad) the past year was. Others slowly begin to realize just how many cookies they ate over Christmas.

One thing is for sure, though. If you’re one of the many people around the world who made an annual resolution, you are most likely feeling that sense of determination and tenacity at the prospect of a new you for the new year. And that’s why BTR rounded up some tips and tricks to make the transition much easier.

Synergize Your Habits

Year after year you tell yourself that you should probably start taking that multivitamin from the lonely plastic jar that’s collecting dust in your pantry. But night after night, you forget that jar even exists. One thing you could never forget though, is your morning cup of coffee.

Put your multivitamin somewhere you will see it when you go for your daily caffeine fix. Whether you want to position it on top of your Keurig machine, in the coffee mug, or by the sugar holder is up to you.

Put Money On It

Studies show that when people put something at stake it makes them more likely to commit to a goal. And what gets people to stick to a bet more than money, ammiright?

You can either set a small-stake bet with a friend verbally, or if you want to make it more official, you can download the free app, Stickk. Developed by Yale University economists who tested the effectiveness of ”Commitment Contracts”, Stickk is simple: you set a goal, add a monetary incentive to succeed, designate a referee to monitor the progress, and confirm the truth of the reports made.

If that doesn’t sound fun enough, you can even add friends onto the app just to cheer you on. Let the games begin.

Laugh It Off

Committing to tasks doesn’t always have to be performed with a Clint Eastwood-esque scowl. Keeping your eye on the prize is always encouraging, but letting out a good laugh can actually help you complete goals more than you realize.

For one, being in high spirits increases your resilience and willpower. In one study, researchers had two groups of students watch a video and then complete a complex task that called for a substantial amount of self-control. Students who viewed a video of Robin Williams performing standup stuck to trying the task several minutes more than the group who watched a film about dolphins.

In addition, laughter can help those who wish to improve their overall health and fitness. A hard chuckle is shown to reduce stress hormone levels, improve cardiac health, boost T cells, release endorphins, and tone abs.

Stick to the Facts

We all have certain habits and cravings for things that we know are bad for us–candy, soda, junk food, etc. Though we are well aware of the negative effects they entail, we should still make an effort to continuously consider that positive repercussions that healthier alternatives entail.

So why not surround yourself with the truth? Did you know that you are 47 percent more likely to live an extra decade if you eat home-cooked meals five times a week? Well, now you do, and a post-it note that states that very fact may ward you off from ordering out the next time you reach into your take-out menu drawer.

To Quit Smoking, Hit a Sauna

Cigarettes build up toxins in your system over time. If you want to quit smoking you can simultaneously clear out your system by eating citrus fruits and green vegetables while drinking lots of water.

Further, if you want a method that just requires some sitting and sweating, try a sauna. Multiple studies show that saunas are effective in removing solvents, organic chemicals, PCBs, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metal toxins from the human body. In fact, spending time in a sauna can clear out about one-third of the toxic material that your kidneys remove from your bloodstream.

Keep Your Goals to Yourself

New goals are very exciting. Whether it’s your plan to quit smoking, start going to the gym, or begin volunteering weekly at a community center, it’s very tempting to share to your goals with those close to you.

While some people claim that sharing your ambitions with loved ones can help you stay committed, entrepreneur Derek Silvers thinks otherwise. In his TED talk he presents research that shows how sharing your goals can actually slow you down. That happens because your mind gets tricked into feeling that the goals are already accomplished, making you less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary.

Limit Your Number of Goals

One of the most important tips to remember when setting your goals for the new year is to realize your limit. Around this time of year, many of us begin envisioning a perfect version of ourselves. We proclaim that we’re going to become healthier, fitter, smarter, and more responsible with our money. Suddenly, we expect ourselves to be pretty damn near perfect.

Social psychologist Chris Berdik writes in his book Mind Over Mind that limiting our number of goals and toning down our expectations can actually help us achieve them. More importantly, going about our goals in a non-idealistic manner helps us stick to our strategies.

Hope that helps, and Happy New Year!