Five Incredibly Easy New Year's Resolutions That Will Make a Difference

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

Five Incredibly Easy New Year's Resolutions That Will Make a Difference

It's pretty much guaranteed that every year millions will make resolutions that will last a total of four days into the first week of January before they're abandoned. The reason is that most people set incredible goals for themselves ("I will lose 50 pounds by summer!") that are doomed to fail because they require an inordinate amount of energy and attention. However, most don't realize that the smallest, easily doable actions can have incredible impact and in many cases, serve as the gateway to larger actions.

1. Commit to Doing Just One Push-Up a Day
That's it. Just one push-up. Every day. This is the opposite of pushing yourself to too-lofty fitness goals in an incredibly accelerated schedule (which you'll inevitably abandon when you see yourself slipping up). By committing to just one push-up a day, you'll soon get to the point (in some cases almost immediately) where you'll want to do more than just one. Then do as many as you can, but know that you really need to do just one a day. You'll be amazed at what happens -- trust us.

2. Commit to Giving to the Poor Only Loose Change
Many feel guilty when they would like to help others in need but don't have the funds to spare even $20 or so. Here is a simple plan: keep a large empty milk bottle by the front door and every day, when you walk in the door, empty out all the loose change in your pockets into that bottle -- whether that's just a couple of pennies or maybe 75 cents, it all goes in the bottle. When the bottle is full, plug it up with a cork and wrap a bow around it and drop it off at your nearest charity or just give it to someone in need. A standard wine bottle can hold over $50 in change, and that's a chunk of money that can make a difference. (You could try a wine bottle but quarters may not fit into the neck.)

3. Commit to Paying Someone's Toll Once a Month
When crossing a bridge and needing to pay the toll, pay for the person behind you as well. The trick is that you cannot look behind you to see who it is or what kind of a car he or she is driving. You just pay for the person behind you and then put on your sunglasses and drive. The person who was behind you may try to drive up to you to wave thanks or even figure out what that was all about. Don't acknowledge the person -- it will only add to your mystery. More importantly, this will be a great lesson on what it is to give without expecting (or looking) back, and you will like how it feels to commit anonymous acts of decency.

4. Commit to a Hefty Tip on Every Fifth Occasion You Eat Out
Working as a waiter or waitress is thankless and exhausting and tips don't exactly let waitpersons live in the lap of luxury. Assuming that you have no issues with your service, on every fifth occasion you eat out (it can get pricey on a more regular basis, but if you've got it, by all means give it), tip the waiter or waitress 40%. Yes, it's ridiculous, but honestly, the difference it will make to you at most midrange restaurants is about $20-$30 above the standard, but the difference it makes to that waitperson? Much, much bigger. Also, keep in mind that it is a luxury to be seated and to have others cook and bring your food to you and wash your dishes afterward. If you're going to be luxurious with yourself, be so with those who serve you as well.

5. Commit to the Ten-Minute Rule Whenever Possible
Most overriding urges -- whether for food or cigarettes or any other compulsion, seem much stronger than they are because of their concentrated severity. That said, our brains are pretty good at finding new things to focus on if given the time because most urges are momentary. When you have the urge to eat or smoke or do anything else that is questionable for your health, give yourself ten minutes. Know that if, after ten minutes, you are still craving whatever it was, you can have it, but you have to wait ten minutes first. You'll be surprised at how often a compulsion can die down in just that long.

The key is not to go big but to start small and go bigger from there if you want, but know that staying small is not so bad, either.