Her Hacks: New beginnings

January is a time of new beginnings.

Named after the Roman deity Janus — a two-faced god who looks into the future and past — it’s the time when we start looking forward to a new year and the chance to start fresh.

The most common New Year’s tradition is, of course, the resolution.

Lose weight, stop smoking, eat better, run more, spend less, sharpen your mind: It’s an endless litany that, unfortunately, tends to fall by the wayside by the time March rolls around, if not sooner.

I think we can all set a goal this year: Let’s make it to April. And, the team at her Headquarters has just the hacks you need to keep to that resolution and turn it into a year-round goal.

Look outside the box

There’s nothing wrong with resolving to lose a few pounds, but it is one of the most common choices among Americans, according to Statistic Brain. And, if it is something that you’ve chosen before, yet haven’t been able to achieve, maybe it’s time to look outside the box.

Confidence is something a lot of people find is in short order in their lives. Making a resolution to work on becoming more confident has manifold benefits: It can help you get ahead at work, improve your personal interactions and perhaps have the confidence to attempt your weight loss resolution in future years.

ZenHabits.net, a website about “finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives” has a great guide to finding your self-confidence at tinyurl.com/hqjpkcg.

It’s all really good advice, but the sections on getting to know yourself, increasing competence and empowering yourself with knowledge are all great places to start.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, getting sufficient sleep each night is a public health problem in the United States. With an estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults reporting sleep or wakefulness problems (tinyurl.com/h3wux5g), it’s entirely possible that you aren’t getting as much rest or as good of rest as you should.

Fortunately, there is quite a bit of science behind what makes for a good night’s sleep. Here are a few tips, courtesy of LifeHack.org:

Don’t eat right before bed.Avoid caffeine and alcohol.Reserve your bed for sleeping.Shut off the lightsDon’t sleep too much.

Visit tinyurl.com/hctxzqy for a few more tips on getting the snooze you deserve.

If there’s one thing that unites a generation more than music, war protests and drug culture, it’s money and student loan debt. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average 2016 college graduate holds more than $37,000 in debt.

It’s a sobering thought, but there are ways to ameliorate the looming spectre of graduated repayment plans (cue the spooky music).

A lot of places will offer you a lot of advice (tinyurl.com/jfpy4t6, tinyurl.com/j73pooy and tinyurl.com/zvddrr6 are good places to start), but one thing they all have in common is this piece of advice: Stop creating new debt.

If there’s one key to getting your debt taken care of, it’s taking a long, hard look at your spending habits and being brutally honest with yourself. Some people refer to it as continuing to “live like a student” after graduation, and some take the route of creating a detailed budget.

Either way, stay away from debt spending like the plague.

The fun stuff

All the doom-and-gloom not your thing? Have your loans under control? No problems with self-confidence?

Resolutions don’t all have to be as serious as an episode of “Game of Thrones.” Sometimes, provoking a little fun can be just as important to your quality of life as running 5 miles per day.

Everyone needs, a hobby, right?

It might be something as simple as cracking open a crossword when the opportunity presents itself. Or, it might be as complex as building model airplanes. Either way, a hobby will not only improve the fun in your life, but it also will teach you new skills.

And, it doesn’t have to be a burden on the pocketbook.

The aforementioned crossword goes for less than $10 at River Lights Bookstore (tinyurl.com/gwohyuf). And, if you’re adventurous, pick up a copy of “Drunk Crosswords: Over 50 All-New Puzzles with a Twist” for something a little different. You also can check out a variety of puzzles in the Telegraph Herald.

Hiking is a hobby that takes a decent pair of shoes, an interest in the outdoors and has the added benefit of exercise.

Learning to play an instrument is something a lot of people skip over in high school without even realizing they missed out on what might have been a lifetime love/stress reliever.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources to help teach you — from YouTube all the way to professional tutors — and the time investment only needs to be what you deem appropriate.

If you’re interested in guitar (and who isn’t), there’s even a video game, “Rocksmith,” that will teach you how to play, all while enjoying the dulcet chords of favorite songs like “I Want You Back,” by the Jackson 5, or “We Are The Champions,” by Queen.

Speaking of video games, in moderation they can provide a great outlet for de-stressing after work.

While a brand new PlayStation 4 or Xbox One might be a bit of a strain on the pocket book — or not, go nuts — a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or Wii can be a pretty reasonable investment right now. The games should be pretty cheap, too, especially if you’re willing to buy used.

Pet adoption isn’t for everyone, but if it’s right for your life and your living situation, it might be time to find that fur baby of which you’ve always dreamed.

There are plenty of guides online to finding the perfect dog, cat or chinchilla, but there is no resource more immediately helpful than your local humane society.

The Dubuque Regional Humane Society (dbqhumane.org) has the expertise to fit the right pet to the right home.

And, don’t discount bringing home an older pet. Kittens and puppies are cute, but they come with a lot of accidents, training and growing up yet to be done. An older pet might be just the stress-reduced option for you.

The serious stuff

All that being said, there’s nothing wrong with the more typical goals of weight loss, exercise and healthier eating.

The problem is that, according to Forbes, more than 40 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, but only eight percent of those who do follow through and achieve it.

The question, therefore, is how do you become part of that elite eight percent?

Being more specific in your resolution is a good first step.

While losing weight is a laudable goal, it’s about as amorphous as Shia LaBeouf’s career, post “Transformers.”

A better resolution might be to specify a final weight, or exactly the amount you intend to lose.

An even better one will do that, along with a schedule and date by which to have it accomplished.

A best(er?) one is to address the specific problem that caused the weight. For example, going cold turkey on potato chips or making that gym membership pay for itself, finally.

The greatest arch-nemesis a New Year’s resolution can have is an irresolute resolution resolver.

But how does one combat the tendency toward giving up?

A good first step is to cultivate an attitude of positivity and optimism.

If you’re focusing on the negative aspects of your chosen improvement project, it’s that much easier to drop out and quit.

Focusing on what you’re going to be getting out of the experience is a good place to start, but it’s also important to create a series of goal milestones leading up to the big one.

Each milestone becomes a reason to celebrate on your way to a successful resolution.

Send your hacks, tips, suggestions, DIY thoughts, inspirations and cobbled-together-machinations to tony.frenzel@thmedia.com, or share your pins with me on Pinterest (Anthony Frenzel), and you might just be featured in an upcoming edition of her Hacks.

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