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27 Inspiring New Year’s Resolution Ideas You’ll Want to Keep

Go beyond losing weight and hitting the gym this year by making resolutions that will uplift, educate, entertain, and help you become a better person.

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New Year Resolution Idea #1: Read a new book every month

There’s a reason this one is one of our favorite New Year resolution ideas yet. 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 increasing brain connectivity for days after you finish the book, according to a study published in Brain Connectivity. Both types of reading have their place, but don’t let Internet articles crowd out reading a well-crafted, compelling book. For maximum brain benefits, carve out time each day to do a little reading.

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New Year Resolution Idea #2: Do something that scares you

This isn’t an easy one, but it is one of the best New Year resolution ideas, too. Make a list of things that scare you: public speaking, sky diving, holding a spider, eating Brussels sprouts, asking your boss for a raise, calling your crush. Now, pick one thing off the list and find a way to do it. You don’t have to go from arachnophobia to crawling into the spider house at the zoo, but find a safe, incremental way to conquer one of your big fears. Bring a friend, get educated, read a book, take a class, or do therapy to help you face your fear. Each time you do it, you’ll feel stronger, more confident, and more in control over your life because you’ll have power over one more thing, instead of your fear having power over you.

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New Year Resolution Idea #3: Buy a new fruit or vegetable every time you do your grocery shopping

This one is a great New Year goal because it can lead to some excellent discoveries. 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 eat 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. Even if you hate it, at least you can say you’ve tried it. Not only will it automatically make you sound cooler, but you might even get a great story to tell.


New Year Resolution Idea #4: Write a thank-you card to someone from your past

Have a teacher that 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 they changed your life, thank them, and send it off. They will treasure your kind words, and you’ll benefit from remembering a positive, kind moment from your life.


New Year Resolution Idea #5: 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, chances are you’re forgetting a lot of little (or big) purchases, and those purchases add up. That’s no one’s idea of a good time, but going through your credit card charges—once a week, bi-weekly, or monthly—can help you catch fraudulent charges, fix mistakes, and control your own savings. Here are some more New Year resolution ideas that can save you money.

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New Year Resolution Idea #6: Meditate every day

By now you’ve read dozens of articles about the many benefits of meditation and you know you should, but it’s just so… boring? Impossible to carve out the time? Difficult to do without falling asleep? For however many reasons you think you have for not meditating, you have even more reasons to do it. Daily meditation doesn’t have to be a struggle, however. Install a meditation app on your phone, like Headspace or Calm, and let it do all the hard work. It will pick the meditation, set the timer, and talk you through it. All you have to do is show up.

New Year Resolution Idea #7: 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. Not only are you doing a good deed, but it will get easier for you, and you’ll get better at your job the more you do it. Considering a little “voluntourism” trip abroad? Check out these tips to volunteer overseas the right way.


New Year Resolution Idea #8: 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. From politics to health to tiny house building, the options are endless!


New Year Resolution Idea #9: Leave a nice comment on someone else’s social media every day

Much has been said about how destructive Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other forms of social media can be, especially to your self-esteem. 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 you’re glad they are in your life. Easiest good deed ever!


New Year Resolution Idea #10: Post a beautiful picture each day

Another way to resolve to use social media better this year is to make a goal to post one picture each day of something in your life you find beautiful. It can be as simple as a leaf curling on the sidewalk or the pattern raindrops make on your window. Simply taking a moment to look for something beautiful and capture it on camera will give your spirit a lift. Posting it will inspire others to look for the beauty in their lives as well. Watch out for these things you should probably avoid posting on social media during the holidays, though.

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New Year Resolution Idea #11: Take a walk outdoors every day

“Exercise more” probably already made your resolution list, but if that’s all you wrote, then you’re destined to fail. The more specific and doable your goal, the more likely you are to, you know, actually do it. Walking is a great exercise to start with. Not only can nearly everyone do it, but it’s 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.

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New Year Resolution Idea #12: Celebrate a new holiday every month

Did you know that January 1st is not just New Year’s Day but also National Hangover Day? (Makes sense, really.) And that’s not the only weird holiday—thanks to imaginative people and creative marketers, nearly every single day of the year celebrates something. Sign up for The Days Of The Year to discover what wacky holidays are happening each month. Then pick one you’d like to celebrate—National Doughnut Day, June 1, perhaps?—and enjoy. Sure, it’s silly, but having something fun to look forward to every month is a great way to lift your spirits and have a party. Need an idea? Try one of our favorite National Food Holidays.

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New Year Resolution Idea #13: Smile at a stranger every day

A man who committed suicide 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.” That story had a heartbreaking ending for that man, obviously, but it shows the power of a little human kindness. Smiling at a stranger on the bus, in the store, at the gym, or on your way to work costs you nothing but could have a powerful effect on someone’s life. Make a resolution to give a smile, every day. Best part? You’ll probably get one in return too.

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New Year Resolution Idea #14: Sign up for dance lessons

Dancing is good for your body, mind, and soul. It’s fun; it’s 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. The best part is you don’t even have to be good at it to reap all these benefits! Sign up for a type of dance lesson that intrigues you—ballroom, tap, ballet, hip hop, or whatever—and simply show up with an open mind. Paying for a whole course will keep you going at least for the duration of the class. Here are some more great tips to help you find a hobby you love.

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New Year Resolution Idea #15: Invite a new neighbor over for dinner

Quick: Can you name your next-door neighbors? What about the ones next to them? Everyone on your street? 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. At best you’ll make some great friends, at worst you don’t ever have to do it again, and you’ll still have one more person you can ask to bring your garbage in from the curb when you’re gone. For a little inspiration, check out these 22 heartwarming stories of good deeds from neighbors.

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New Year Resolution Idea #16: Set a firm bedtime

Getting enough sleep can be one of the best things you can do for your health. Getting 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 e-mail, or other distractions. Invest in your health by giving yourself a firm bedtime that will allow you to get eight hours of sleep, say 10 p.m., and stick to it.

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New Year Resolution Idea #17: 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.

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New Year Resolution Idea #18: Get a gratitude journal

Making a mental note to count your blessings simply isn’t enough. To reap all the benefits of daily gratitude, you need to make a conscious effort to record everything you’re grateful for. Start off on the right foot this year by buying a fun journal, just for the purpose of recording three things each day you’re grateful for. Looking for things to be grateful for will give you a boost in the moment and re-reading them later will help you realize how great your life really is. Get started with these powerful gratitude quotes that will inspire you to be grateful.

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New Year Resolution Idea #19: Take a tech break every day

If Dr. Seuss were writing today, his next book would likely be Screens On Things—those screens, we see them in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse. Those screens we see them here and there, we see them everywhere. And for good reason, they’re fun! But technology overload can cause depression, isolation, lack of social skills, compulsive shopping, and poor health. Take a brain break 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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New Year Resolution Idea #20: Set a cleaning schedule

Chores are called chores for a reason—no one loves scrubbing out the toilet or loading the dishwasher, yet they are all things that must be done for life to run smoothly. But sometimes you procrastinate doing them (no judgment here, we’re all guilty of this!) and they pile up. Keep your personal (and mental) space clean by creating a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedule. Doing a little each day will make sure the garbage never overflows into the next room again. Need a place to start?

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New Year Resolution Idea #21: Call your bestie

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. Even if you really mean it, setting aside social time can be difficult. But maintaining close friendships is worth it. So make a resolution that this is the year you make time for your loved ones and schedule a time each week or month to see them. If you write it in as an appointment, your brain will think of it as non-negotiable and you’ll make those good times happen.

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New Year Resolution Idea #22: Plan a day trip

Become 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. Stop waiting for a reason to go to a play, visit a museum, hike a trail, or tour a landmark and just go.

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New Year Resolution Idea #23: Maintain your car

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 taking care of it on a regular basis.

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New Year Resolution Idea #24: 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.

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New Year Resolution Idea #25: Cook dinner at least once a week

A home-cooked meal is delicious and usually healthier than any take-out or restaurant fare, not to mention cheaper. 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 healthy, home-cooked meal at least once a week. Your health and wallet will thank you.

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New Year Resolution Idea #26: Pamper yourself a little

Everyone deserves a little love and happiness in their life. Make sure you’re taking care of you by scheduling a little pamper time in once a week. Take a hot bath, paint your nails, buy a small treat, wander through a bookstore, bake cookies—whatever feeds your soul. Find out some more little things that happy people do every day.

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New Year Resolution Idea #27: Put some money in savings each week

Nearly 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings—far less than the six months of expenses that experts recommend and not even enough to get through a minor emergency like a medical bill or car breakdown. Yet saving extra when you’re already living paycheck to paycheck, or seriously in debt, can feel overwhelming. Start small by putting a little into 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. You won’t even notice the money is gone, and you’ll build up a nice little nest egg that will hopefully inspire you to save even more. Here are some more New Year resolution ideas that might just change your life.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.

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