It's time to ring in 2021. You know what that means: creating New Year's resolutions.
What is it about New Year's Day that makes everyone suddenly so goal-oriented?
If you choose to make a New Year's resolution this year, keep in mind that 80% of New Year's resolutions fail. Maybe one of your New Year's resolutions should be to achieve just one resolution.
So how can you achieve your resolution?
Don't aim too high or have unrealistic expectations.
Striving to lose 50 pounds in 2 months or read every Stephen King novel before his next movie comes out are quite commendable targets but are not realistic. Especially if you're deciding on them at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve after several glasses of Champagne.
Set achievable goals... read that again. Set. Achievable. Goals.
Here are some New Year's resolution ideas to get you inspired for the upcoming year.
Get In Shape
Do you make this resolution every year? How long did you stick with it last year?
Whether you're dieting or exercising, or both, to keep it going, it has to be doable for you, not a lofty ideal. Start with something manageable. Take a walk around the neighborhood after work or after dinner.
If you don't like going to the gym, then don't make that your resolution. There are plenty of other ways to get in shape and look after your physical and mental wellness that do not require a gym membership.
Don't force yourself to do something that will only make you miserable. Find a different exercise activity that you like. Try taking up tennis, swimming, or join a fun exercise class.
Exercise classes exist for almost any type of interest, including cycling, kickboxing, dancing, yoga and much more. And did you know many of them are virtual?
You can set up your tablet and start practicing in your living room. Once you are comfortable, there are plenty to choose from at your local rec center or YMCA for people of all ages and ability levels.
The same rules apply to dieting.
If you don't like cabbage, don't go on the cabbage soup diet just because someone told you it works. Do some research. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No, there is no "eat all you want Dorito diet." That would be nice, though.
Find a plan that is right for you and that you can realistically handle. Your health will thank you for it later.
Need a little technological boost? Try these fitness gadgets to help you stick to your resolutions.
Clear Your Mind (and Take Care of Your Mental Health)
Our lives are stressful. Always on the go and being constantly accessible through social media and other technology can take a toll on our minds. Our brains never get to rest and become cluttered with unnecessary thoughts and worries.
Taking the time to clear your mind can help you in so many ways and teach you how to be more present.
Meditation is a great way to do this. Many successful people say they meditate to help get a handle on their hectic lives. Oprah Winfrey, Anna Huffington, Russel Simons and Jerry Seinfeld are just a few who practice meditation.
Meditation is simple, it only takes a few minutes, and the benefits are extensive.
It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, can lead to improved self-image and positivity, lengthens your attention span, may help with memory loss, can help improve your sleep and can help lower your blood pressure.
Simple Meditation Steps
Set a timer for 2 minutes.
If sitting is uncomfortable for you, lie down and make yourself comfy.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe naturally. Don't suddenly begin breathing heavily or slowly because you are trying to relax. Just breathe normally.
- Pay close attention to your breath and your body. Notice how your chest and belly change when you breathe. Note how your rib cage expands when you inhale, and it deflates when you exhale. Focus on your breath but don't change it or control it.
- It's natural for your mind to wander. If it does, that's okay, just acknowledge it and then return the focus to your breath.
Try to maintain meditation practice for two to three minutes as you start. It won't be easy at first. You will find yourself restless and uncomfortable, but stick with it.
After you've done it a few times, it will become more comfortable. Next, try increasing it to 3 or 4 minutes. You will see significant improvements with even just a small amount of meditation.
Less than 5 minutes of meditation time will do the trick.
Don't find that meditation is beneficial for you? There are plenty of other ways that you can care for your mental health. It's all about being present.
Maybe instead of meditating, you go on a walk every evening and simply observe what's going on around you: no podcasts, no music nor any extra entertainment. Just walk, listen, observe and be mindful of your thoughts, feelings and senses.
Don't want to go on a walk? You can do the same thing just sitting on your back porch with a cup of coffee. Clear away the distractions and be present with your emotions for a bit. Allow yourself to feel them.
Being present is an excellent way to begin caring for your mental health. And, if you still think you need a little extra assistance in 2021, maybe this year is the year that you decide to invest in therapy.
Clear Your Home
If you're tired of never being able to find anything in your home, it's time to get organized.
The key to organization is to eliminate the stuff you do not need.
Tackle your spaces one at a time. For instance, start with just a desk area, or maybe a garage.
Don't try to tackle the whole house at one time.
Sort all the items in that space into three piles: keep, throw away and give away.
If you haven't used something or worn something in over a year, you should consider getting rid of it.
Once you have your items sorted, look at what you are keeping, group them into logical categories and keep them together.
For example, when organizing an unruly linen closet, create bins or spots on shelves designated for items that go together. Have one area just for sheets, one for bath towels, one for hand towels, etc. Keep your extra toiletries together.
Finding the right storage containers to fit in your space will help you out with this task tremendously.
Things you use the most should be the most easily accessible.
Don't designate a place for something you often use that is too difficult to get to. It will just cause you to throw it somewhere where it doesn't belong. You don't want to dig through stacks of extra toilet paper to get to the washcloths you use every day.
Related: A Guide to Practicing Yoga at Home
Fun Uncommon Resolutions
If all of these resolutions seem too daunting for you and you would rather set resolutions that are more fun but still make you a better person, give some of these a try.
Any step in a positive direction is a good one.
Learn something new.
Try out a new skill or a new hobby, maybe even sign up for an adult education class. You can find lots of free courses online (through course aggregators like Coursera) that teach you both fun and valuable skills.
Take a class on a topic that's always intrigued you, whether that might be medieval culture or plant biology. Maybe you want to take a class on something useful for one of your other hobbies, like hiking safety, or studying something related to your job, like business writing or marketing 101.
Whatever you choose, you can find plenty of free, open courses online, brought to you by professionals at some of the top universities in the world.
Don't want to commit to something long-term? Learn something new quickly and easily by simply searching for a podcast related to your favorite topics or interests. You'll get a quick hit of new knowledge in as little as half an hour and can listen on the go, during your daily commute or while doing chores around the house.
Teach something new to someone else.
Spread the knowledge and pay it forward. Is there a valuable skill you have or some hobby you excel at that other people would love to learn more about? Share it with them.
Maybe you might volunteer as a docent at a local history museum and share your love of local lore with visitors. Perhaps you sign up to teach a class at your local library on knitting or teach some of the older library users the basics of modern tech, from email to texting. Whatever knowledge you can share, share it!
Make a new friend.
Go for it! We can never have too many friends. Not sure where to start?
Look for friends that share similar interests. You can find special interest groups that meet locally online, often via Facebook and other similar websites.
Not sure you want to meet in person just yet? Try finding groups of like-minded individuals online via social media, forums and special interest websites. After all, online friends are real friends, too, and sometimes online friendships are much easier to maintain than in-person relationships.
Try one new food each month.
Expand your horizons and your palate. See what is out there; maybe you will find new favorite food.
You can either try new cuisine at a local restaurant or cook something new and exciting at home. Get your partner or your loved ones involved in the experience, for a fun date night or night out, or a fun night in, getting messy in the kitchen, as you cook up something you're possibly not all that familiar with, from homemade pasta to sushi rolls.
Power down one day a month.
It's a challenge that's easier said than done. See if you can turn off the cell phone, texts and tweets and go offline one day per month. You may be surprised by how much you can accomplish. Check out the book Digital Minimalism for some inspiration.
Go somewhere new each month.
You don't need to travel far and wide to enjoy a new place and new experiences. Check out the store that just opened up downtown. Get your vanilla latte at the local coffee shop instead of Starbucks. Take a stroll in a park that you pass every morning on your way to the office. Add a little adventure and variety to your life — and make sure to bring someone along to experience the fun with you!
Related: How to Find Last Minute Travel Deals
Say hello to a stranger every day.
Surely, you pass by at least one person you don't know every day. Say "Hi," see how it makes you feel to acknowledge and brighten up someone else's day. (And don't forget to smile!)
Who knows? You may just make a new friend out of it.
Get (and keep alive) some indoor plants.
Keeping indoor plants can help reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. Bringing in a little bit of outdoor greenery can also help perk you up on these cold, dark wintery days. If you find that it's a hobby you really enjoy, you can even sign up for a subscription service that will bring new plant children to your door every month or so.
Not sure where to start? Go easy, with some succulents or cacti, which both require minimal watering. All you need is a warm, sunny spot.
Want to make your indoor plant growing experience a little more rewarding? Try out some edible plants, herbs and vegetables that can easily be grown on the windowsill. Basil, rosemary and lavender are easy to grow with minimal potting area and can be harvested right when you're ready to use them. If you have a little more space, you might try growing some tomatoes by the window.
Get active in little ways.
Even if getting fit isn't one of your New Year's resolutions, and you may not necessarily need to improve on your health, we can all probably stand to be a little more active in some smaller ways.
One way? If you work or live in a building where you take the elevator every day to the second or third floor, try walking up the stairs. It's a great aerobic workout, and it doesn't take nearly as much time as going to the gym.
Similarly, whenever you head to the grocery store, office or anywhere else you're parking in a lot, try to park a little further from the door than usual and see what the extra steps do for you.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not just a day off from work. It is also the MLK National Day of Service. Take advantage of the day off and go volunteer and give back to your local community. You might even like it and start doing it every month.
Don't think there are any volunteer opportunities that interest you? Think again. Beyond the fundamental volunteer opportunities, like doling out food at your local soup kitchen or walking dogs for the local humane society, you can find volunteer opportunities that fit just about every skill level and interest.
Love nature and not so much people? Volunteer with a park service to pick up trash along your local hiking trails.
Want something behind-the-scenes? Many food pantries, shelters and similar charities need volunteers to sort donations, from canned foods to gently-used clothing, out of sight and out of the way.
Want to volunteer from the comfort of your own home? You can do that, too, whether you want to answer phones for a crisis center or simply volunteer some of your professional skills (from writing to marketing) to a local nonprofit that needs some related help.
Start a daily journal.
Writing down your thoughts and ideas is a great way to reflect and grow as a person. Keep a pen and notebook on your bedside table and spend 5 minutes a day writing down whatever comes to mind. Don't put a lot of pressure on it! You can write whatever you like — from your daily thoughts to dreams, prose to poetry.
Drink more water.
Most Americans don't drink enough water. Carry around a water bottle and opt for water instead of Diet Pepsi at restaurants.
Don't care for plain water? You can find plenty of ways to jazz up your daily water intake, from adding frozen fruits to your water bottle to fanciful flavorings that don't add too much in the form of sugar or calories.
And if you still can't stand water, you can always opt for a slightly healthier option apart from your daily soda or coffee, with an herbal tea.
Read more books.
When's the last time you picked up (and finished) a book? Check out your local library or download an app like Audible to listen to books on the go. You can also support your local small businesses by checking out the indie bookshops in your area.
Need a little help sticking to this particular goal? Find an accountability group, either among your current set of friends (even if it's just one person!) or at your local library (there are many reading clubs, with something for every interest), or even online. There are many book-loving communities on both Facebook and Twitter.
Learn a new language.
Flex your brain muscles and learn a new language. There are a ton of fun new ways to learn a language like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. (Don't let the Duolingo owl scare you off — he's harmless, we promise.)
If you don't think anything is going right in your life, it might help you count your blessings. This is a great daily or weekly exercise to add to your daily journaling routine.
Don't want to journal? Simply write out one thing you're thankful for each day on a sticky note and add it to your mirror or refrigerator — somewhere you can see it often. You'll quickly realize that there are no bad days (or at least, fewer bad days than you think), and simply days where a few bad things might happen.
Stop procrastinating on your bucket list items. Use the new year to book a few plane tickets and see the world!
Don't want to hop on a plane this year? Hit the road for a quick trip across state lines, or even within your state, to see something new. There are likely plenty of things for you to discover right on your doorstep, and often, you can easily plan an affordable and quick weekend trip within the span of a few hours.
Make more money.
Let's be honest. Everyone could use a little bit more money. Take on a new side hustle or ask for a raise at work. Just be careful — don't let your side hustle take over your life in the new year. Remember to strike a comfortable work-life balance.
Save more money.
If you're going to make more money, you should save more money, too! Add a little cushion to your retirement savings and get closer to your financial dreams.
And while you're at it, don't forget to pay off that debt, too. Start with your smallest debts first (maybe a small student loan, credit card balance or car loan), pay them off as quickly as possible and then move on to your larger debts. You may be amazed at just how good it can feel about wiping away that obligation and monthly bill.
Get more sleep.
Are you neglecting your sleep schedule? Make it a goal to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Of course, sometimes, that's easier said than done.
If you need a little assistance in getting the right amount of sleep, there are a few things you can try. Set your room to a cooler temperature (or even crack a window if you live in a cool climate). Turn on some white noise. Block out excess light and remove your cell phone from the room.
Additionally, try to avoid tech, television and other stimulating activities for at least an hour before you go to bed. Instead, read a book, journal, drink some tea or enjoy a conversation with your partner before you hit the sack.
Watch less TV.
If you're staying up too late binge-watching the latest Netflix dramas, you can kill two birds with one stone by turning off the TV and getting to bed earlier!
Plus, without that time spent watching television, you'll have tons of other time left in the day to pursue your other new hobbies and goals for 2021!
Connect with your friends.
Don't let your friendships fizzle out because of your busy life. Make it a point to text or call a friend at least once a week to stay connected.
It doesn't need to be some time-consuming or stressful thing. Maybe you tune in together to watch a favorite show via dual live-streaming services, like Netflix Party. Perhaps you grab a quick cup of coffee or go for a short walk in the park. An hour a week can go a long way in maintaining your relationships, as well as boosting your overall mood.
Cook more meals at home.
If you're one of those people who goes out to eat for every meal, it's time to start cooking more meals at home. Cooking at home can save you money, and it's often much healthier than fast food. Plus, it's an experience that you can enjoy with your family or partner, with the result being a delicious, healthful meal.
Use your social media wisely.
Social media comes with a wide range of benefits, of course. You can meet people you never would in real life. You can be exposed to new ideas and thoughts you never would've otherwise. You can find community and like-minded individuals more quickly than you maybe can where you live.
However, it's essential to use social media wisely and not let it take up too much of your time or allow it to impact your mood negatively. If you have a hunch that your social media use is trending toward the unhealthy side, take a step back. Begin to examine your social media usage and then maybe decide to limit your use (or simply block some accounts or trigger words that impact you in a harmful way).
Start crossing off your bucket list.
Do you have a bucket list? Then start whittling away at that thing before you, well, kick the bucket. Write down your bucket list wherever you can have it handy, and then make it a point to mark one thing off each month of the year.
If you don't start now, when will you start?
Let's Get Crackin'
It's almost the New Year. Don't spend your day sitting around reading online articles.
Get up and get moving. You've got a lot to do!
If you fail at your New Year's resolution, that's okay. Take a look at why you failed and see if you want to try again (and if you don't want to try again, that's okay too!).
Maybe you just aren't that interested in learning to speak French, and that's why you failed (and made the Duolingo owl very angry as a result). So forget the French and move on to something else!
Maybe a restrictive diet just isn't right for your fitness and health goals. You could try to take smaller steps to get to a better diet, including adding one vegetable to your diet per day, versus going full-blown vegetarian on January 1.
At the end of the day, go easy on yourself. Forming new habits and changing up your lifestyle can be difficult, but it is do-able. Forgive yourself where you fail and put the important stuff first. You'll like the results you see come 2022.
Oh, yeah. And have a Happy New Year!
You might also like: How to Start a No Spend Challenge [And Stick to it]
27 New Year’s Resolution Ideas:
- Get in shape
- Clear your mind (and take care of your mental health)
- Clear your home
- Learn something new
- Teach something new to someone else
- Make a new friend
- Try one new food each month
- Power down one day a month
- Go somewhere new each month
- Say hello to a stranger every day
- Get (and keep alive) some indoor plants
- Get active in little ways
- Volunteer more
- Start a daily journal
- Drink more water
- Read more books
- Learn a new language
- Be thankful
- Travel more
- Make more money
- Save more money
- Get more sleep
- Watch less TV
- Connect with your friends
- Cook more meals at home
- Use your social media wisely
- Start crossing off your bucket list