25 Small New Year’s Resolutions You Can Start Today
Every year, we make the same mistake — making New Year’s resolutions we know we won’t keep.
Losing weight. Quitting smoking. Getting out of debt. Those are some of the top commonly broken resolutions. Why? Because they require a long-term commitment to achieve, but we want instant gratification. When we don’t see results, we give up.
This year, make resolutions you can reasonably keep — short-term goals that give you the satisfaction you want right away. Here are 25 ideas to get you started today. (See also: 5 Ways to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions)
1. Read More Books
This is on my list every year because I don’t read nearly enough books. I read a lot — online news, blogs, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes — but I don’t schedule enough time to sit down and get lost in a good book. To make this your resolution, set an achievable goal for the amount of books you’d like to read next year, starting today. If you read zero books this year, even one book will be a step up. If you read two books this year, make it three next year. The point is to make the amount manageable, so you can feel good about yourself when you reach your goal.
2. Buy Fewer Daily Deals
Every morning I wake up, slide open my iPhone, and tap on the apps for Groupon and LivingSocial. Too many times I end up purchasing the deal(s) of the day. On my desk at this moment, there are no less than 10 unredeemed daily deals. I’m very good about using them — so they’re in no danger of expiring — but 10 is admittedly too many. I know I’m not the only one with this problem. When you see today’s daily deal that you "have" to have, just say no. You don’t have to have it; there will be another deal that comes along soon enough.
3. Keep an Organized Desk
Throw away the papers you no longer need. Separate utensils and supplies into their own containers. Untangle your electronics cords. Suck the crumbs out of your keyboard. Dust and sanitize the surfaces. Organization is contagious. Start here, and who knows where it could lead.
4. Spend at Least 20 Minutes Walking
Me and cardio do not get along, but I want to lose a little weight. Instead of running — which I give up quickly because I hate it with a passion — I started walking 20 minutes a day. If you live in a city, you can add some steps to your routine by getting off public transportation sooner than you normally might and walking the rest of the way. Of course, it’s cold this time of year, so you might not be down with walking outside more than you have to. If you have a gym membership, hop on the treadmill and turn on the TV while you walk the pounds off. It helps the time fly.
5. Watch Less TV
If you normally put on the TV as soon as you get home, wait an hour and do something productive instead. During the week I try to TiVo my favorite shows while spending after-work hours continuing projects, seeing a film, or spending quality time with my friends. Then on Sundays, when I would normally watch reruns of whatever’s on, I play the shows I actually want to see. This cuts down on the total amount of TV I’m consuming, keeps me entertained on Sundays (while everybody else is watching football), and helps me get more things done that I need to do.
6. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
If you think about it, there’s probably at least one expense you can trim from your budget. Mine is Netflix. I don’t plan to renew my subscription when it expires in a few days. Maybe you can get even get rid of your cable plan, which will save you a decent amount. Think about it. How will you reclaim some of your hard-earned cash?
7. Be More Eco-Conscious
If you don’t already have recycling bins, go get some. They’re very inexpensive; IKEA has some nice ones. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Use less water. Pile on the blankets instead of turning on the heat (or invest in a heated blanket — I love mine!) when it’s cold out. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine unless they’re full. Buy eco-friendly products when possible. In general, try to create less waste and reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Remove Clutter From Your Computer
Put your docs and photos in the proper folders, uninstall unwanted programs, dump any items that aren’t serving you any purpose in the trash. You’ll clear the path and save yourself time looking for what you need. Your computer might even run faster, too.
9. Add More Culture to Your Life
Support the local theater, visit a new museum exhibit, find a restaurant that’s showcasing a indie musician. Just get out of the house to learn, do, or see something new.
10. Volunteer Your Time
There are umpteen ways you can give back to your community and the world — but the best way is with your time. Maybe the local shelter needs you to serve food. Or perhaps your neighborhood Red Cross chapter could use some help in its facility. Check around. Opportunities to volunteer are virtually endless. And who knows – you might make some new friends along the way.
11. Cut Back on Sugar and Empty Calories
When your sweet tooth starts acting up, satiate it with fruit instead. Cuties — yes, those easy-to-peel oranges the kids on TV are talking about — are an excellent and healthy alternative to chocolate and other fattening snacks.
12. Log Off Facebook More Often
Damn that Mark Zukerberg! He invented the biggest time waster in history — and made a billion dollars from it. Take your life back — for at least an hour a day (we don’t need to get too crazy here) — by logging off Facebook for an hour. Your friends will probably think you're dead, but you’ll be back to posting LOLCats in no time.
13. Go to Bed Earlier
This is a hard one. I have trouble sleeping, let alone going to bed early, but it’s worth a try. Whatever your “normal” bedtime is, try to bump it up an hour or two. Besides, who couldn’t use a little more sleep?
14. Make at Least One Cookbook Meal a Week
I have a whole row of cookbooks that I never crack open because it’s much easier for me to find a recipe online while I’m working. What’s the point of having them then, right? Dust one off, crack it open, and find something delicious to make for dinner — the old-fashioned way.
15. Clean Out Your Closet
Toss anything you haven’t worn in a year. Get rid of beat-up shoes. Donate unwanted accessories. And for goodness sake, fold up your shirts, sock, and underwear. You’re a grownup.
16. Call Your Grandparents More Often
They’re not getting any younger. Pick up the phone and make their day.
17. Gossip Less
One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Steel Magnolias: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.” But this year, starting today, I’m going to bite my tongue more often. Sometimes, very, VERY hard.
18. Drink More Water
I have a friend who had to have $4,000 worth of dental work done because his primary source of liquid sustenance was soda. Do you want your teeth to rot and fall out of your face? Then drink more water.
19. Start a Journal
Whether it’s online or in a book, chronicle a year in your life. You never know what might come of it. Stranger things have happened than someone having their journal published for the world to read. You might be more interesting than you think.
20. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
This is another biggie for me. I love to kick back with a glass or two (or seven) of wine, but too much of a good thing can turn bad very quickly. Ideally, I’d like to cut out alcohol from Sunday to Thursday. Maybe we can be each other’s no-drinking-during-the-week buddies. We can support each other via Facebook — until you log off like I told you to earlier.
21. Embark on a Journey of Spiritual Enlightenment
Oprah’s not around anymore to make you feel bad about your lack of moral judgment (at least not on a daily basis), but who the heck needs her attitude anyway? The best way to find spiritual enlightenment is any way you want. Research religion, spirituality, and theology. Brush up on your deities. Go to church even. Spirituality is personal journey that you create. Can I have my own talk show now?
22. Turn Your Devices Off at Bedtime
How can you get to bed earlier if your phone is ringing, your friends are pinging, and your computer is dinging? Turn your electronics off when you get into bed so you’re not tempted to stay awake buying Groupons or checking texts. If anybody needs to get a hold of you after midnight on a weekday, they only want one of two things — a) a booty call, or b) to tell you that somebody died. With regards to the former, you’re better off missing that message. And the latter, well, they’ll still be dead when you wake up.
23. Do Something Nice for Your Neighbors
Whether you like them or not, you have to live near them — at least for the time being. Extend a hand by baking up a batch of cookies, shoveling their sidewalk, offering to carpool their kids, or inviting them offer for a night of board games to get to know each other better. A little kindness goes a long way. Especially when you want to borrow their riding lawnmower.
24. Learn a New Skill
This was on Time magazine’s list of commonly broken resolutions, but I think it’s because those who resolve to learn a new skill choose something unreasonable. If you want to learn a new skill, choose one that you can actually accomplish — a skill that’s challenging but not unachievable. And, yes, there are new skills that you can totally learn today. You know your own strengths and weaknesses, so choose wisely. You don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment.
25. Schedule More “You” Time
Ah, yes. That coveted time where you get to do whatever you want, even if it’s breaking one of these resolutions. What are you working so hard for if you can’t kick your feet up and pat yourself on the pack for all the check marks on your list?
There are you have it — 25 New Year’s resolutions you can start today. Will you choose one or more of these, or do you have something on your mind that’s not on this list? Let me know in the comments below.