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50 New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Want to Keep

Need some inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions? These ideas will help you make 2024 your best year yet.

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Try a different New Year’s resolution in 2024

It’s that time of 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 resolutions are all about, and setting goals 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. Here are some accurately hilarious New Year’s resolution cartoons!

Too many people use their New Year’s resolutions 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, says Traci Stein, PhD, a psychologist and adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. “Instead, make resolutions based on self-compassion,” she says. “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 2024, 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. Good luck, and happy 2024!

While you’re at it, check out our list of the New Year colors!

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close up of man reading a book
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Read one new book every month

Add “read more books” to your list of New Year’s resolutions. 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.

exotic fruits on shelf at the grocery store
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Buy a new fruit or vegetable

The world is filled with strange and wonderful foods, so why stick with navel oranges and broccoli? Expand your palate by buying one new fruit or veggie at the store—and then actually eating it. That new taste may even be one of the lucky New Year’s foods. Plus, 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.

anonymous woman writing a letter
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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 “Happy New Year” wishes, and you’ll benefit from remembering a positive moment in your life.

Man calculating his financial bills
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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. No matter what your zodiac sign’s resolution is, going through your credit card charges—once a week, biweekly or monthly—can help you catch fraudulent charges, fix mistakes and control your savings.

Young woman sitting on her bedroom floor and meditating
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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.

Community Care At Local Food Bank
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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.

A man is holding a remote control of a smart TV in his hand. In the background you can see the television screen with streaming entertainment apps for video on demand
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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. Add documentaries to your list of New Year’s Eve movies. Then, 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.

young woman using her smartphone
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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. You can even write positive New Year’s captions in your Instagram posts to motivate others. Easiest good deed—and easiest New Year’s resolution—ever!

Photographing with smartphone in hand. Travel concept. Torres del Paine, Chili
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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. Don’t forget to add an inspirational New Year’s quote. It will give you a boost of happiness and inspire others to look for the positive.

Dad smiling to his daughter on the forest trail
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Take a walk outdoors every day

If “exercise more” is always at the top of your New Year’s resolution ideas 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.

Chinese new year reunion dinner, food and drink
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Celebrate a new holiday every month

Did you know that Jan. 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.

person holding a tarantula spider in hands
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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.

Women seated at separate tables speak with each other
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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 New Year’s resolution to give a smile every day. The best part? You’ll probably get one in return.

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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.

woman laying in bed at night looking at phone
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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.

boxes of fresh berries
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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.

Woman leaning on doorway, writing in notebook
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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.

mature woman swimming in a lake on a cloudy day, smiling
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Take a daily tech break

We know how fun it is browsing the internet—searching for memes, books, clothes and everything else Google provides. But 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.

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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.

two friends on a video call with each other
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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. Even call them on FaceTime just to crack a New Year’s joke. Treat it as an appointment, and your brain will think of it as non-negotiable, so you’ll actually make those good times happen.

young man at a museum by himself
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Plan a day trip

Be a tourist in your own town by finding a list of popular attractions and then setting 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 brainstorm a few staycation ideas for a great getaway close to home.

Pouring oil to car engine. Fresh motor oil poured during an oil change to a car
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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.

Looking for books for the homework project
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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). In the spirit of the season, consider finding a book that can teach you about the history of “Auld Lang Syne,” and make it a goal to hit your local library once a week.

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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.

coin jar filled with savings on wood table
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Save 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 Oportun, to make it practically painless.

two glasses of red wine on table at a restaurant
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Cut your alcohol consumption

Another one of the great New Year’s resolutions: reducing or eliminating alcohol. 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.

Close up on man Man extinguishes the cigarette in the ash tray quitting no smoking lung health problems
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Quit smoking

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. 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 it one day at a time.

Overweight black woman talking to doctor in medical clinic
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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.

Dentist Showing Patient X-Ray Of Teeth After Check Up
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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.

young woman sitting in bathtub
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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.

young couple taking care of kitchen herbs
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Grow something

Indoor plants are great for your home and you. They provide beauty, purify the air and lift your spirit. Choose an indoor plant that suits your personality, like a bright bloom. Or be pragmatic with a plant that does double-duty, like aloe vera.

young man looking at smartphone while on treadmill
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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!

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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. Maybe even ask your parents about their very first New Year’s kiss. Your voice and the stories will be a powerful legacy for your loved ones.

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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.

Glass with water on a wooden nightstand in bedroom
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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.

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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 10 minutes a day doing strength exercises.

dermatologist Inspecting patient skin moles at clinic
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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.

Band of four musicians and singer playing on stage
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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.

young woman washing face in bathroom at home
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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.

Two women enjoying hot drink having conversation
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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 with them. Ask them to share a favorite memory or story, and write it down in a journal—or better yet, take a video.

Two happy men shaking hands at garden shed with old motor scooter in background
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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.

Side view of woman using tablet computer for recipe while preparing food in kitchen
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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!

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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.

Young businesswoman using laptop while sitting on bean bag in small office
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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.

Hiker Alone Looking at View From Mountain Top
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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.

Comforting friend while sitting near a marina
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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.

woman picking up trash on the ground
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Pick up trash

Make your world a little nicer, one piece of trash at a time. Make it 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.

Mature man working on laptop on the couch at home
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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 New Year’s resolution this year to take one class in a subject you’re interested in.

About the expert

Sources:

  • Brain Connectivity: “Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain”

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.