50 New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Want to Keep
Need some inspiration for your New Year’s resolution? These ideas will help you make 2022 your best year yet.
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Try a different New Year’s resolution in 2022
It’s that time of the year again—time to look back on the past 12 months to see just how far you’ve come and look ahead to the next 12 to figure out what else you’d like to do. Of course, that’s what your New Year’s resolution is all about, and setting that goal is one of the biggest New Year’s Eve traditions, right up there with watching the ball drop and throwing (or attending) an amazing New Year’s Eve party. Unfortunately, another unofficial tradition seems to be breaking those resolutions before the month’s out, but this New Year’s, you can change all that.
Too many people use their New Year’s resolution as a way to punish themselves or beat themselves up for not being good enough, but that’s not a good way to inspire yourself to change, and it just makes you feel bad, says Traci Stein, PhD, a psychologist and adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. “Instead, make resolutions based on self-compassion,” she says. “You’ll be able to keep your resolutions and feel happier in the process. Commit to these kinds of resolutions, and you will find you are healthier, more balanced, and ultimately more satisfied with the result.”
To help you become happier and healthier in 2022, we rounded up some of the best New Year’s resolution ideas that you won’t just want to keep but that you’ll actually be able to keep. You also might get a few ideas from these New Year’s Eve movies and inspiring New Year’s Eve quotes. Good luck, and happy 2022!
Read one new book every month
Between your job, social media, and all your favorite online activities, it may feel like all you do all day long is read stuff, but there’s a huge difference between reading information on the Internet and getting lost in a great story. In fact, reading a novel actually changes your brain, improving memory and boosting your brainpower for days after you finish the book, according to a study published in the journal Brain Connectivity. For maximum brain benefits, carve out time each day to do a little reading.
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Buy a new fruit or vegetable every time you go grocery shopping
The world is filled with strange and wonderful foods, so why stick with navel oranges and broccoli? Expand your palette by buying one new fruit or veggie at the store—and then actually eating it. It doesn’t have to be major. You could swap out your standard Red Delicious apples for a new variety, like a Snapdragon, or try purple cauliflower instead of white. And on the big night, try some of these New Year’s Eve foods that are supposed to bring good luck.
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Write a thank-you note to someone from your past
Have a teacher who introduced you to your career? A childhood friend who stood by you for years? A relative who was always there to listen? Get a nice card, write down your memories of how that person changed your life, thank them, and send it off. They will treasure your kind words, and you’ll benefit from remembering a positive moment in your life. To help you keep this New Year’s resolution, read these tips on how to write a heartfelt thank-you note.
Read your credit card statement each month
You may think you know where your money is going, but unless you’re actually taking the time to look at all your charges, there’s a good chance you’re forgetting a lot of little (or big) purchases. And those purchases add up. Going through your credit card charges—once a week, biweekly, or monthly—can help you catch fraudulent charges, fix mistakes, and control your savings. While this is a good idea for everyone, find out which other New Year’s resolutions are best for you, based on your zodiac sign.
Meditate every day
You have probably read dozens of articles about the many benefits of meditation and know you should do it, but it’s just so … boring? Daily meditation doesn’t have to be a struggle, though. Install a meditation app, like Headspace or Calm, on your phone, and let it do all the hard work. You can pick the meditation, and a guide will talk you through it. The hardest part is showing up.
Sign up as a volunteer
Pitching in at the food bank for one Saturday in December is good, but charities need volunteers year-round, not just over the holidays. Brighten your life and someone else’s by signing up to volunteer weekly or monthly. Considering a “voluntourism” trip abroad? Check out these tips to volunteer overseas the right way.
Watch one new documentary a month
Netflix and the like are a bounty of brain candy, but let’s not forget that along with all nine seasons of The Office, the Internet also holds the entirety of human wisdom. Take advantage of all this free knowledge by setting aside an evening each month to watch a new documentary about a subject you’d like to learn more about. Or start with these true crime documentaries that will make your jaw drop.
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Leave a nice comment on someone else’s social media every day
Instead of using social media to talk about yourself and wait for the likes to roll in, use it to build others up. Take two minutes each day to scroll through your feed and tell your friends how gorgeous their new baby is, how impressed you are with their successful fundraiser, or simply how much you love them and how glad you are that they’re in your life. Easiest good deed—and easiest New Year’s resolution—ever!
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Post a beautiful picture daily
Set a daily goal to post one picture of something in your life that you find beautiful, like a leaf curling on the sidewalk or the pattern raindrops make on your window. It will give you a boost of happiness and inspire others to look for the positive. Speaking of pictures, you’ll want to bookmark this list of New Year’s captions.
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Take a walk outdoors every day
If “exercise more” is always at the top of your New Year’s resolution list and you never actually do it, ditch that idea and try this one instead. Not only can nearly everyone do it, but walking is free and you can multitask by listening to a podcast or talking with a friend. Add in the great outdoors, and you’ll get some fresh air and sunshine. Bonus: Walking also increases your mood and your creativity.
Celebrate a new holiday every month
Did you know that January 1 is not just New Year’s Day but also National Hangover Day? (Makes sense, really.) And that’s not the only weird holiday you’ll find on the calendar—nearly every single day of the year celebrates something. Sign up for Days of the Year to discover all sorts of wacky holidays and pick one you’d like to celebrate, including some of our favorite national food holidays.
Do something that scares you
Make a list of things that scare you: public speaking, skydiving, holding a spider, eating Brussels sprouts, asking your boss for a raise, calling your crush. Now, pick one thing on the list and find a way to do it. Each time you conquer a fear, you’ll feel stronger, more confident, and more in control of your life.
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Smile at a stranger every day
A man who took his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge left behind a note that read, “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.” This heartbreaking story shows the power of a little human kindness. Smiling at a stranger costs you nothing, but it could have a powerful effect on that person’s life. Make a resolution to give a smile every day. The best part? You’ll probably get one in return. These small acts of kindness can also brighten someone’s day instantly.
Sign up for dance lessons
Put simply, dancing is fun. It’s also a great way to meet new people; it improves memory, balance, coordination, and flexibility; it helps you lose weight; and it’s a great way to start an exercise routine. You don’t even have to be good at it to reap all these benefits! Sign up for any type of dance lesson that intrigues you—ballroom, tap, ballet, hip-hop, or whatever—and simply show up with an open mind.
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Invite a neighbor over for dinner
The more interconnected we’ve become online, the less connected we’ve become in real life, particularly to those we don’t have a reason to get to know. So make a reason to meet the people in your neighborhood by inviting a new person or family over for dinner, dessert, or a game night once a month.
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Set a firm bedtime
Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. A solid seven to eight hours of shut-eye boosts heart health, helps with weight loss, improves memory, and reduces depression, among other health benefits. Yet good intentions are easily derailed by phone games, Netflix, work emails, or other distractions. Invest in your health by giving yourself a firm bedtime that will allow you to get eight hours of sleep—and stick to it.
Sign up for a CSA
Community-supported agriculture is a great way to support your local farmers while also getting a sweet deal on healthy produce. You sign up, pay a small monthly fee, and in return get a box of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables each week during the growing season. Farmers get consistent income, and you get the best produce money can buy. Go to Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.
Keep a gratitude journal
Start off on the right foot this year by buying a journal, just for the purpose of recording three things each day you’re grateful for. Look for things that will give you a boost in the moment and also remind you how great your life really is when you read them later. Get inspired with these powerful gratitude quotes.
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Take a daily tech break
Technology overload can cause depression, isolation, lack of social skills, compulsive shopping, and poor health. Take a brain break and digitally detox by setting aside one (or more) hours a day to unplug. Read a book, take a walk, work on a hobby, volunteer, or simply use the time to think your own thoughts, uninterrupted. You’ll sleep, eat, and feel better.
Set a cleaning schedule
Chores are called chores for a reason: No one loves scrubbing the toilet or loading the dishwasher, yet they are all things that must be done for life to run smoothly. But sometimes you procrastinate and they pile up. (No judgment—we’re all guilty of this!) Keep your personal (and mental) space clean by creating a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedule.
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Call your bestie more often
We’ve all been there: You see a good friend in passing, yell “We need to get together soon!” as you sail by, and then … nothing. Yet maintaining close friendships is worth the extra effort. Schedule a time each week or month to see your loved ones. Treat it as an appointment, and your brain will think of it as nonnegotiable, so you’ll actually make those good times happen. Get the ball rolling by texting your BFF one of these friendship quotes right now and getting the first date in your calendar.
Plan a day trip
Be a tourist in your own town by finding a list of popular attractions and then making a goal to visit a new one each month. You’ll learn about the history of your (current) hometown and gain an appreciation for the people around you. Plus, it’s just fun. You can also try one of these staycation ideas for a great getaway close to home.
Stay on top of car maintenance
Other than changing the oil, most people don’t deal with their cars until something breaks down. But you can get a lot more mileage out of your machine by making a New Year’s resolution to take care of your vehicle on a regular basis. These are the car maintenance tips that will extend the life of your car.
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Visit the library
Libraries have bunches of books, sure, but they also provide a lot more: calendars of community events, clubs, support groups, release parties, performances, movie rentals, and audiobooks. Take advantage of all your library has to offer (and pick up a good read or three) by making a goal to hit your local library once a week. For a more concrete goal, check out this list of the most impressive libraries in every state and visit yours.
Cook dinner at least once a week
A home-cooked meal is delicious and usually healthier (not to mention cheaper) than any takeout or restaurant fare. Yet too many people think they can’t cook or that it’s too time-consuming. Not so: You can do this. Commit to making a home-cooked meal at least once a week. Your health and your wallet will thank you.
Save some money every week
Saving extra when you’re already living paycheck to paycheck or are seriously in debt can feel overwhelming. Start small by putting a little into your savings each week. You can simply stick all your cash in a jar in your closet, or you can install an automatic savings app, like Digit, to make it practically painless. That’s just one tip from people who are great at saving money.
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Cut your alcohol consumption
Reducing or eliminating alcohol can have big, positive effects on your health. Decide which types of drinks and which occasions are the most important to you in advance so you can drink mindfully. Or try an alcohol fast for one month.
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Is this one of the New Year’s resolutions you’ve made (and broken) before? If so, don’t be discouraged. It’s a new year, after all! Start with this important piece of knowledge: Inhaling anything other than air can be damaging to your lungs. (Yes, that includes pot!) Quitting smoking has exponential rewards for your mind, your body, and your wallet. So set a quit date, enlist a friend to keep you accountable, and take one day at a time.
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Book your annual checkup
Preventative health care is an extremely important yet often overlooked aspect of health. Be proactive about taking care of yourself by scheduling your annual physical today.
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Call the dentist
Your mouth is a vital part of your body, so take good care of it by scheduling dental checkups every six months. Many dentists allow you to schedule several appointments in advance, so get them all on your calendar. Not only will you keep your teeth clean and cavity free, but dentists can spot some dangerous health conditions before your doctor. If you hate going to the dentist, these dentist jokes might help you relax.
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Pamper yourself every Sunday
You need a regularly scheduled break. Let’s be honest: If you don’t schedule it, it’s probably not going to happen. Set aside time once a week to take a hot bath, paint your nails, buy yourself a small treat, wander through a bookstore, bake cookies—whatever feeds your soul. You might also want to buy yourself one (or more!) of these self-care gifts.
Indoor plants are great for your home and you. They provide beauty, purify the air, and lift your spirit. Check out our list of the best indoor plants and choose one that suits your personality, like a bright bloom. Or be pragmatic with a plant that does double-duty, like aloe vera.
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Find a show to watch only when you’re on the treadmill
Getting engrossed in a show isn’t usually the healthiest choice, so counter that by resolving to watch the show only while you’re walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. You’ll be so much more motivated to exercise and keep going when you want to see what happens next!
Record a family memory
When they’re happening, you think you’ll always remember the funny, happy, poignant, or tough experiences your family has gone through together, but memories fade with time. Add to your New Year’s resolutions by making a vow to recount favorite family moments on the record. Your voice and the story will be a powerful legacy for your loved ones.
Declutter your closet
Cleaning out your space is physically and mentally freeing. To avoid the need for a major overhaul, resolve to spend 15 minutes a week decluttering. Donate anything you don’t need anymore, or make a few bucks by selling your old clothes and other assorted items.
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Talk to a therapist
Everyone can benefit from counseling, and there’s more than enough happening in the world right now to give even the most positive person a little bit of anxiety. Talking through concerns with a mental health professional can be helpful in ways that chatting with friends can’t.
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Put a bottle of water by your bed every night
Drinking more water is easy when it’s right there when you wake up. Put a bottle of water next to your bed every night and make a resolution to drink it before you get out of bed in the morning. Don’t worry: It’s safe to drink water that’s been sitting out overnight. Just make sure the lid is on tightly.
Lift something heavy
Cardio exercise is often a little easier to fit into your schedule since it doesn’t necessarily require any equipment, but strength training is just as important to your health and longevity. Buy a set of weights or use that gym membership you’re still paying for and resolve to spend ten minutes a day doing strength exercises.
Get checked for skin cancer
Melanoma remains one of the top killers of U.S. adults. But even if you don’t have a suspicious mole, it’s still important to get your skin checked by a dermatologist once a year (as well as protect yourself every day by wearing the best sunscreen). If you’ve had signs of skin cancer in the past or have a family history, make an appointment every six months.
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Go to a concert
Whether you’re into country, classical, or pop, there’s something uniquely special and fulfilling about listening to live music. Look up concerts near you and buy tickets. If the big names are out of your budget, many local musicians offer free or low-cost concerts. (Just be sure to follow all COVID-19 safety protocols!)
Wash your face every night
There’s something incredibly soothing about engaging in a bedtime ritual, and gently washing your face is a way to get the grime off from the day—literally and metaphorically. Finish up with a yummy-smelling moisturizer, and not only will you be more relaxed when you hit the sheets, but you’ll also have gorgeous skin when you wake up.
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Interview a friend or family member
Our loved ones are only with us for a limited amount of time, so make the most of the time you do have by setting aside an hour or two each month to talk to them. Ask them to share a favorite memory or story, and write it down in a journal—or better yet, take a video.
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Give out a compliment every day
Little words can make a big impact. Resolve to give a sincere compliment to someone every single day. It will help you look for the positive, and it will brighten their day. Need some ideas? Check out this list of the best compliments anyone would love to hear.
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Take a monthly cooking lesson
Cooking because you need to eat is one thing; cooking as an art form or a hobby is a whole new experience. Even if you don’t want to become a chef, taking a cooking class can teach you basic techniques and tricks and help you appreciate food more. Plus, depending on the class you choose, you just might walk away with some fabulous new recipes!
Book a session with a personal trainer
Anyone can print a workout off the Internet, but sometimes you need a pro to watch you, correct your form, and help you tweak your routine to get the best results. A session or two with a certified personal trainer can help you feel excited about working out again.
Update your resume
Don’t wait until you’re actively job-hunting to get your resume in tip-top shape. Take a few minutes each month to update and polish your resume. Doing so can help you see your strengths and areas where you could use some growth. And if you do find yourself looking for a new job, you’ll be ready.
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Hike a mountain
Sometimes you need to do something just to say you did it. Hiking a mountain can give you a huge sense of accomplishment and pride, not to mention a serious dose of fresh air and exercise. Trust us: This is one of those New Year’s resolutions you’ll never forget.
Cry on someone’s shoulder
Being vulnerable with others is hard, but it’s an essential part of building and strengthening relationships. Resolve to make this the year that you open up a little more to your loved ones, particularly when you’re struggling or feeling down. Don’t be afraid to cry—crying is good for your body and soul. To that end, these beloved sad books can also help you find an emotional release.
Pick up trash
Make your world a little nicer, one piece of trash at a time. Make a goal to pick up five pieces of garbage a day. It will only take you a minute, but you’ll have done a good deed, and there will be that much less chaos in the world. Keep small garbage bags in your purse, bag, or car.
Take an online course
You don’t have to be a formal student to keep learning in a classroom. There are a wealth of free and low-cost classes available through many higher institutions of learning. Make a resolution this year to take one class in a subject you’re interested in. Find just the thing in this list of free online college courses.
- Traci Stein, PhD, a psychologist and adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University