Tips to set and keep New Year’s resolutions

Elisha Morrison
Staff Writer

The new year is a time when many people decide to start over and make resolutions for the year. Unfortunately, for many without guidance those good intentions often fall to the wayside by the end of January.

Saline County has several locals willing to offer advice in their areas of expertise to help get those resolutions off to a good start.
For some a new year is a chance for self improvement through education and enriching the mind.

The Saline County Library offers a variety of programs and ways to help.

For those wanting to read more in the new year, Kari Beesley, marketing coordinator for the library, said the library has numerous options to help. With a staff of avid readers, just about anyone working at the library can provide reading recommendations to fit any interest. She said for many patrons, not finding quite the right book for their interest is often the biggest hindrance to reading more.
The library is also offering a new service called Wowbrairy, which will keep patrons up to date on the latest materials. Patrons can reserve books and more without even having to go into the stacks.

For those looking to learn a new skill, the library has a variety of programs. Patrons can learn watercolor, yoga and crafting, among other programs, on a monthly basis or sit in on individual workshops with topics including finance and genealogy. Beesley said the staff at the library is constantly listening to patron feedback to determine what programs to bring in.
Beesley said to check the library’s calendar at to see upcoming events or follow the library or Facebook.

With the library’s new Youtube channel, patrons can see some classes they may have missed to learn new skills, though Beesley cautioned it is better to actually attend because a patron can ask questions and get one-on-one help.
The library offers a new program on its website called With their library card, patrons can take courses and watch educational videos on a variety of topics from programming language to the use of Adobe suit products to photography.

UALR Benton also offers educational opportunities both for those who decide their resolution is to get a degree and for those just wanting to learn something in the new year. Kim Jackson, director of the Benton campus, said education is for everybody, whether they want to improve themselves or improve their business skills.

She recommends those looking to start or finish a degree stop by the campus and talk to an advisor or member of the staff to help establish what the student needs. They offer two-year- and four-year-degrees along with certifications. Students can go to to check out their options. They have online and in class options as well and both day and night classes.

The school also offers community education workshops for those wanted to brush up their skills or learn something new in a few hours. Those classes can be found under Community Enrichment Education on the website.

Jackson said people should not get discouraged from taking classes because they think they are not smart enough or are too old. She said everyone brings a wealth of knowledge into the classroom.
For those convinced they are too old, Jackson said all public universities actually offer classes to everyone age 60 and over tuition free. She said those students should contact the school for details.

“Don’t think you can’t do it,” Jackson said.

UA Pulaski Tech also a variety of community education courses. Course descriptions and cost can be found at under the get started button. There are professional development, advance manufacturing skills, personal enrichment and culinary classes.
Some people are starting the new year with a goal to get their finances in order.

Jim Stilwell, president of Stilwell Insurance and Financial Services Inc., who is a financial advisor, said the first thing a person wishing to get their finances in order must do is look at the goals they want to achieve and the time in which they want or need to achieve them.
Stilwell said a person must first determine what they want. Are they trying to retire? Buy a home? Send a child or grandchild to college? Eliminate debt?

He said when a person decides what is most important, they need to determine how long they are willing to take to reach those goals.
After figuring that out, he said the next most important step is to determine a budget, which he said varies for each individual depending on goals, income and what that person views as most important. He said a budget is vital to determine the discretionary income used to reach the goal.

He recommends speaking to a financial advisor who can help. In Saline County, Stilwell said, there are several competent advisors. He suggests visit an advisor and determine if their style works. If a person doesn’t like an advisor’s style, he said try another.
He said most first visits are free. There are also free online services that can help get a person started.
He said it is important to attack goals one at a time because if a person tries to attack all their financial goals at the same time they may become overwhelmed and feel defeated.

“The only wrong thing is to do nothing,” Stilwell said.
Michael Armstrong, chief financial officer for Alcoa Community Federal Credit Union, said before making a budget it is vital to understand both what money is coming in and going out. He said for most people determining what money is going out can often be difficult.

He said once a budget is set it needs to be realistic. He recommends the 50/30/20 rule, 50 percent of the budget to fixed payments such as mortgage, 30 percent to variable payments such as the electric bill and food, and the remaining 20 percent to saving and paying off credit cards. When divided by those types of debt, he said it helps a person see how their budget needs to be balanced. He said the goal is to eventually pay down debts like credit card so more of the 20 percent goes to savings.

He said no matter where a person is on their goal, they should always have life insurance to ensure their family is taken care of. He said he and his wife look each year to ensure they have enough to cover debts if needed.
Armstrong said never be afraid to ask questions, no matter where a person is on their financial journey.

Weight loss and getting in shape tops most New Year’s resolution lists.
Lindsay Queen, bariatric dietitian at the Saline Memorial Weight Loss Center, said the best way to make sure the resolution goes beyond the end of January is to set short term achievable goals instead of large goals with no definite time frame.

She said goals could be to lose five pounds in January or to exercise two to three times of week for 30 minutes a day for two weeks. She emphasized just saying generally “I am going to lose weight” is not a realistic goal. Without goals, she said a person who has a bad day or gains a pound they might get discouraged and quit.

For someone who wants to work out more, she said have a plan. Instead of just going to the gym, she recommends having a plan for what to do at the gym, such as walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes.

The weight loss center offers free support groups to help people stick to their goals. One group meets from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and another meets from 5:30 to 6:15 every third Tuesday of the month. Both meet at the hospital and discuss tips on how to shop and eat healthy. She said registration is not required, just show up and ask questions.

The weight loss center also offers both surgical and nonsurgical options for weight loss. Queen said many insurance plans cover part or all of weight loss programs. Patients can call 501-574-7171 to talk to someone at the center about options.

While the New Year is a great time to start, Queen said every new day is a new chance and just because a person fails one day that should not derail their efforts. She said every new day is a clean slate.