New year’s resolution ideas for busy people: How to make small changes and stick to them

Sarah Spickernell
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Don't set unrealistic targets - you're unlikely to stick to them (Source: Getty)

It’s almost 2015, and this year we are going to do everything better – we will be more active, drink less, excel in our jobs and read three times as many books as usual. Yes, we will – and nothing is going to stop us.

This is the attitude we are all too familiar with in late December and early January, when we have had enough time to relax and reflect on what we could have done better over the last 12 months. We are anxious to get going again, and sticking to a regime of self-improvement feels like an easy task.

But as the months go by and the responsibilities pile up, tiredness kicks in and new year’s resolutions often fall by the wayside. That’s why, if you’re a hard worker, you should be realistic – pick some simple changes that are easy to put into practice, and you’ll improve your chances of making them new year’s resolutions rather than January resolutions.

Here are some ideas to get you going – they are easy to do, inexpensive and don’t take up much time.


If you’re someone who leaves the house without much time to spare and isn’t keen on the cold, don’t say you’ll start cycling or walking to work every day in pursuit of becoming a healthier and more eco-aware person.

Instead, change the small details. You could get off the Tube one stop earlier on your way home from work so that you have an extra 15-minute walk. Or if you work high up in an office block, every other day you could climb the stairs rather than taking the lift.


There’s always something more pressing to do than sitting still and doing absolutely nothing for 10 minutes, but there are few things that will help your stress levels as much.

Lots of people are keen on meditation, and there are plenty of websites and books that offer simple explanations on how to do it. If you’re not keen on that, there are lots of other options – you could have a long bath, or maybe even just look out of the window with a cup of tea.

It will help you stay calm and it’s surprisingly easy to find a spare 10 minutes in a hectic day if you really want to.


We’ve all experienced it: sitting in a restaurant and looking over at the next table to see a couple completely captivated by their phones. They’ve made a huge effort to look nice for each other, but neither could care less because something far more interesting is taking place on Facebook or Twitter.

And it’s not just couples – it’s families, friends, colleagues out at work events. We live in a tech-society, and can be contacted at any moment – work never switches off and neither do our social lives. But by allowing technology to take over, you could be causing huge amounts of damage to your personal life.


When you’re tired and in a bad mood, the thought of having a friendly conversation with someone might seem like the last thing you want to do. But taking the time out to build positive relationships, especially with people at work, can go a long way.

In terms of your career progression and your general happiness in the workplace, helping people when they need a hand will be remembered.


Improvisation can occasionally lead to moments of brilliant creative thoughts, but most of the time it leaves you looking incompetent in front of your boss and colleagues. Preparing for meetings doesn’t have to take long – just ten or even five minutes of planning what you will say can work go far, since it will give you confidence in your own ideas.


You’re running late for work and need a caffeine fix quick, so you run into Pret and queue for five minutes to get your coffee, before running out again and heading to the office.

In that same time you could have gone to the office and made a coffee, saving around £2 in the process.
If you did this every day for a week you would save £10, and every day for a month you’d save £40. That’s the same as a meal out at a nice restaurant.

And if you did it for a whole year you would save almost £500 – that could take you on a week long holiday somewhere in Europe.

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