20 Ideas for New Year's Resolutions to Improve Your Life

December 8, 2016

Is this super early to be talking about resolutions? We usually tend to talk about resolutions during that little window between Christmas and New Year’s, but this year I feel like thinking about resolutions a bit sooner.

Personally, not being born in the U.S., New Year’s resolutions were a concept that took some getting used to. I noticed that most of the resolutions I heard talked about (“Walk after dinner every day,” “Quit smoking,” “Eat better and healthier,” “Reduce caffeine/alcohol intake”) were focused on basically habit formation. It’s not that active habit formation isn’t effective or useful if done correctly, but changing one isolated behavior, while not reflecting on the broader goals for your life as a whole, often won’t be successful.

In that sense, I don’t agree with the idea that you can change just one small thing about your life and make things sooo much better. It’s hard to keep yourself motivated to follow through on one habit without knowing why you’re doing it. What does it mean you want to drink less coffee? Is it because you want to feel calmer and well-rested? Then what you want is better work-life balance, perhaps. Or perhaps the reason is that you want to save money so you can travel, in which case, putting more focus on what you *want to do* (positive) rather than what you *can’t do* (negative) will make you feel better about your resolution.

20 Ideas for New Year's Resolutions to Improve Your Life

It’s a new year, and a new life…

In other words, to make resolutions that really “work,” think big picture first, and then fill it out with small steps to get there. Some things to think about:

1. What kind of person do I want to be?: Am I a book editor living in NYC with a boyfriend and a dog? Or a nurse with a side passion for jewelry design? What kind of professional and personal life does this person have?

2. What values are important to me?: Think about the qualities and virtues you already have, feel secure about. These core values are a permanent part of your identity, so build on that–and think also about those values that you want to further develop in the coming year.

3. How do I want to feel?: You might think “well that’s obvious, everyone wants to be happy,” but your happiness is completely unique to you. For some people, happiness might be serenity, for others adventure and excitement, and then for others the feeling of being head-over-heels in love, and still for others the pride of accomplishment… You’ll also know what you *don’t* want to feel like, anymore: stressed out, anxiety, insecurity, pessimism, sadness, loneliness, powerlessness, frustration, etc. It’s good to know what you don’t want to feel anymore in the coming year, so you can take steps away from that.

After you’ve brainstormed your answers to the above questions, you’ve got your big picture! See these ideas that will fill out your blueprint with details.

“I respect and love myself unconditionally.” 

-Reduce unnecessary apologies to your boss, to your friends and family, to your ex or that guy you didn’t want to go on a second date with and who got pretty offended. Stick up for yourself.

-Take good care of your person, including regular health and dental check-ups, hair appointments, pampering, beauty treatments, actually letting go of worn-out clothes, getting your winter coats dry-cleaned, etc. Because you’re valuable, and how you present yourself to the world should show that.

-Take good care of your surroundings, including reducing clutter, cleaning your place regularly, buying and using good household items, decorating your place to your liking. Because you’re a respectable adult and your surroundings are an extension of yourself.

-Minimize self-criticism. Because you love yourself and you don’t say mean things to people you love.

“I’m a strong, fit, and vibrant person”

-Minimize processed foods in your diet. Eat mostly, whole plant-based diet–you’ll feel so much more energetic and likely lose unwanted weight.

-Cook at home, because taking care of your nourishment is a first priority.

-Keep yourself fit by working out as much as your body needs.

-Sleep at least 7 hours every night, no excuses, because you’re at your best when you get enough sleep.

-Invest in the things that make your body happy, whether that’s a gym membership, massage treatment, nutritional supplements or expensive ingredients (spirulina, matcha, maca!). Because you only get one body in this life and you need to take good care of it.

-Be active every single day. Even if that just means you walked a lot and then stretched before bed.

“I pursue my dreams–and get what I want in life.” 

-Be upfront about the things you want, whether that’s a promotion, a new job, your passion project becoming a full-time career, or what have you. The more firm you are about it, the more you’ll convince other people and the universe, too.

-Don’t apologize for wanting what you want. Because you deserve to be in the game as much as the next person.

-Keep learning. Just because you’re out of college and have no plans for further degrees doesn’t mean you should stop yourself from learning for the rest of your life. Pick up an instrument. Get a yoga teaching certificate. Learn a new language. Join a book club. Become a DIY coder. Create your own blog. 🙂

-Set a career goal for 2017 and break it down into steps with “deadlines.” It might seem scary, but ultimately no one else will set deadlines for you–you have to do it yourself.

-Have a budget that you can live with. If it’s not in good shape, figure out how to make more money and/or spend less. It’s not that you are always poor–it just means you have to shift things around a little.

“I’m a loving person who gives back my good will and energy to the universe.” 

-Work on your relationship with your closest loved ones. Call parents more often (because that’s what they most want, anyway). Schedule something with your girl friends on a regular basis. Frequently tell these people how much you care, and show it, too.

-Have some romance in your life, whether that’s falling in love again with your S.O., or meeting someone new. Have an idea of the love you want and when it comes knocking, don’t refuse it!

-When there’s a chance to meet new people, err in the side of Yes. Keep an open mind. Lead from a place of self-love and you will be treated kindly.

-Give two cents about the state of the environment, racism, sexism, inequality, animal rights, etc. Being informed is good, donating or volunteering for your chosen cause is even better. Be the kind of person for whom giving back isn’t a random, rare anomaly, but a natural part of life and identity. Because you truly appreciate the place you get to take up in the universe.

-Get in touch with your spiritual side. Whether that means yoga, meditation, going to church, walks in nature, private prayers at home. Move away from cynicism and be more in awe and gratitude for the amazing life you get to live. Personally, one of the best benefits of living a vegan lifestyle for the past 9.5 years has been how much better I feel spiritually. I suggest veganism as a specific resolution! 🙂

What kind of person do you want to be in 2017? Values? How would you like to feel? Let me know 🙂 

Related: 5 Winter Beauty Resolutions

Relationship Resolutions for the New Year

My Year of Becoming More Optimistic

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Photo: Roman Drits via Barn Images


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