Mark Archibald
December 31, 2016
Erin Jordan

You’ve heard the Chinese proverb that “a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”

New Year’s resolutions should be those single steps that start us down the road to better health, stronger finances or a more fulfilling life, according to Eastern Iowa goalsetting experts.

“You have the rest of your life to become a better version of yourself, so you might as well start slow,” said Mark Archibald, assistant director of the First Year Experience undergraduate program in the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business.

Archibald helps first-year business students develop incremental goals that help them graduate with skills they need for a rewarding job.

Too often, when people make a New Year’s resolutions, it’s something like “lose weight” or “spend more time with my family.” Archibald said we should take those ideas and break them into realistic, measurable things.

If you’d really like to drop some pounds, maybe your resolutions should be to work out two to three times a week, run a 5K or take a swimming class. To spend more time with family, resolutions could include calling your mom once a week, visiting your brother’s new house or starting a Words with Friends online game with your cousin.

If you’ve got financial worries, don’t make a New Year’s resolution to “pay off the credit cards” or “spend less money,” said Tim Terry, founder of Terry, Lockridge & Dunn and World Trend Financial, both in Cedar Rapids. He recommends four steps to work toward those overarching lifestyle changes.

-- Credit cards, if not paid off monthly, have nasty interest rates. First, get a home-equity loan, which has a lower interest rate, to pay off the cards, Terry said. Then get a new card with a lower rate and pay it off every month.

-- If your employer matches employee contributions to a 401(k) or other retirement plan, contribute the maximum allowed for the match.

-- Consider how many times a week you dine out and reduce it by one. The $10 to $50 you save each week will add up to $500 to $2,500 annually.

-- When going to the grocery store, take a list and stick to it. This resolution could help your wallet and waistline.

Health resolutions are some the most-commonly made — and some of the quickest broken, said Tony Burrier, co-owner of Anytime Fitness locations Coralville, North Liberty, Dubuque and Missouri.

“The majority of our sign-ups will come in January and February,” Burrier said. “As the weather gets warmer, we have those fall off.”

The Burriers’ gyms provide a free initial consultation with a trainer to talk about goals and learn how to use the equipment. Anytime Fitness uses email to keep up with members — especially if they’ve lapsed — and holds friendly competitions to keep things fun.

“In my experience, having accountability to a trainer, a buddy, even someone at the front desk makes a big difference,” Burrier said.

Jamie Hebl and Jason Stratton, both of Iowa City, decided to take a group training session together at Anytime Fitness in Coralville.

“We wanted to build each other up,” Stratton said during a break from a workout that included weights, kettlebells and exercise balls.

Archibald recommends writing down resolutions and posting them somewhere you can see them daily. Schedule reminders on Outlook every couple of months to spur you toward your goal.

“We had friends who would ask people for their resolutions and put them into a spreadsheet,” Archibald said. “Throughout the year, they would check back in with the group about how we were doing.”

If you fall off the wagon, don’t abandon your resolutions, he said. Tomorrow is another day.