If you’re resolved to live a healthful new year, look beyond exercising and eating right. From spending less time on your smartphone to establishing lasting habits, we asked experts in tech, medicine, finance and beyond to offer practical advice for a well-rounded 2020.
Ask yourself this one question
Instead of making New Year’s resolutions focused on outcomes – for example, losing a certain amount of weight – New York Times bestselling author James Clear suggested asking yourself: “Who is the type of person that can achieve those outcomes?”
The question goes a layer deeper and hones in on identity, the “Atomic Habits” author said.
“Build a habit that reinforces that identity,” Clear said, and “master the art of showing up.” “Every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you want to become.”
To measure progress, he advised creating feedback that matches the frequency of the habit. He offered the example of his parents, who swim every day. They won’t notice a physical change in their bodies every time they get out of the pool, but his dad will cross off each day he swims with an X on a calendar to track that habit.
Cut back on your screen time
The American adult spends an average of three hours a day on smartphones, according to Nielsen Total Audience Report. If that sounds like a time suck, there are ways to cut it short.
“It starts really by tricking your brain into being a little less addicted to this device that is actually designed to hit that dopamine and make us want to reach for it over and over again,” said Sharon Profis, CNET’s executive editor and director of content.
“If this is the only thing you do, I recommend you do it – is to make your phone go grayscale,” she added. The devices are designed to reel us in with beautiful colors, she said, so the grayscale setting on your phone will make things “a little bit less enticing.”
Be honest with your doctor
CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula recommended launching into the New Year by scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor.
“This is an important time to talk about prevention, screening, lifestyle and behavioral changes, and really just develop that relationship with your primary care provider,” Narula said.
She said to arrive armed with questions like: What preventive screenings do I need? What vaccines do I need? Are my medications still relevant?
“I tell my patients, take a picture of all your [medication] bottles and bring that photo in on your phone and show me,” Narula said.
Be honest and talk about areas of your life you might think are not relevant, including your financial or social life that could be increasing your stress level. Mental health affects our physical health as well, she said.
“So it’s a good time to take stock of how you’re handling stress, anger, anxiety, depression, and really talk to your doctor about that,” Narula said.
Don’t forget about family history of mental health or even substance abuse issues.
“You don’t just share your genes with your family. You share your behaviors: the way that you eat, whether you’re more sedentary or active, environmental exposures. And all of this can play into your future health risks,” she said.
Track your money
According to Fidelity Investments’ financial resolutions study, 53% of Americans want to save more money in 2020, 51% hope to pay down debt, and 35% want to spend less. To set financial goals for the new year, CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger recommended knowing how much money is coming in, and how much money is going out.
“This is really not about budgeting. It’s about tracking the money. And without understanding that, it’s really hard to prioritize your finances,” Schlesinger said. You can download apps like Mint or Clarity Money that will help organize your financial life.
In addition to your retirement plan, she advised thinking beyond the new year with estate planning.
“Everyone says I know I need to do it. So let’s commit to doing it. Let’s try to figure out a will, a power of attorney, a health care proxy, letters of instruction,” Schlesinger said. While many people get tripped up on who should be the guardian for their children, she said to pick the best possible choice and “get that on paper.”