When it comes to resolutions, think small

Out with the old, in with the new. The old year, and the old you. This year you’re going to change everything—eat healthier, get organized, exercise more, spend less. resolutions

We’ve all had these big ideas as we greet the beginning of a new year. And we’ve all experienced the discouragement that comes in a month or so when we realize that, in spite of our good intentions, nothing much has really changed.

There’s something about a fresh, new year that inspires lofty goals and big, sweeping resolutions, but for many of us, it’s easier to make changes in small, bite-size steps. Here are some tips for cutting some common resolutions down to a more manageable size. Follow them, and you could be looking at BIG successes come New Years 2013!

Get healthy: To change your eating habits, start with one meal a day. Replace your usual coffee and doughnut with unsweetened cereal and fruit, or pack a homemade lunch instead of running out for fast food. Alternatively, just substitute healthy alternatives here and there throughout the day—sparkling water instead of soda, salad or fruit instead of fries with lunch, yogurt instead of ice cream after dinner. The same applies to exercise—a few small changes, such as parking farther from the door at the mall, or walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, can make a difference over time. As you start to notice improvements in how you look and feel, you may be inspired to make larger changes—who knows where it could lead?

Getting organized: Don’t try to do your whole house at once—start slowly, maybe by organizing your holiday decorations as you put them away. Throw away strings of lights that don’t work, and those hideous ornaments that never make it to the tree. Place everything in neatly labeled boxes—recycled gift or shipping boxes are fine—and stack them in the attic or closet. Next week: the pantry, or the kitchen junk drawer. The point is to attack one space at a time. Maybe by spring you’ll be ready to take on the garage.

Save more, spend less: Just like Mom and Dad always told you, you need to put yourself on a budget, and stick to it. But what’s changed since your parents’ day is you don’t have to do it alone. Personal finance software such as Quicken and websites like mint.com are loaded with tools and hints that can help you manage your money better and spend it smarter. Many offer apps for your smartphone, so you’ll have all your financial info in your hand when you’re out shopping. 

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