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.

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Guest's picture

Thank you for sharing. Organization, family money management and cleaning up are always popular new year resolutions since people want to start out their next year on a successful track.

The lists are great; but implementing them involves writing these goals down and turning them into habits. A common problem I've had, as do many others, is getting overwhelmed by trying to go after all the goals at the same time.

Setting to achieve 2-3 goals (with a step by step to achieve each one) a month is doable since it takes 3-4 weeks for a habit (the step by step) to become ingrained in your subconcious.

I hope this helps.


Guest's picture

I like add more culture to your life and reduce the alcohol intake best but all good advice. I am going to read them again~

Guest's picture

Great list. I used to think that it would have been hard to achieve some of the things that you listed. But sometimes making certain choices in life (like studying for an MBA) forces you to change your habits. For e.g. I had to reduce TV and Facebook to have more time to study and I had to eliminate unnecessary expenses so that I could comfortably pay for the MBA. lololol.

Guest's picture

Although these are all good suggestions, it's best to focus on only ONE new thing at a time. That way, you don't diffuse your energy and focus on 25 different things; you only have to focus and remember 1 thing.

Resolutions typically fail because of 3 things:
-->lack of motivation
-->lack of focus
-->lack of structure

The trick is to focus on only ONE new change, and to make sure it's a change that you're excited about and completely preoccupied with. Let yourself obsess about it. Think about all the benefits, and get excited about the rewards of achieving your goal.

Now that you've lit the fire, you can work out how to ensure success. Start with small, easy steps toward your goal. Tasks that are ridiculously easy. Do them and reward yourself for taking those actions. You can add more structure by holding yourself publicly accountable (via Facebook, Twitter, or sites like Stickk.com). Build in "triggers" that remind you to do your new habit. Structure your day to make it impossible to NOT move forward toward your goal.

Greg Miliates

Guest's picture

I know what you mean. It is probably best to pick the most important and really stick with it.

Guest's picture

I like reasonable goals. They are much more manageable. My favorites are shop at the bulk club, volunteer, don't buy uneccessary expenses. The bulk club keeps my family on track. We are not constantly running back to the grocery store. It also stretches our dollars. It's better for the environment too bc there isn't as much packaging to throw out. I'm going to reread some of my financial books to set goals.

Guest's picture
Jeff Crews

2, 5, and 22 are right on.

2. Although I don't end up buying to many deals on Groupon/LivingSocial, I waste to much time looking at the deals.

5. I actually decided to not have a TV part of last year, and it has done wonders. I don't waste as much time anymore. It has been great. However, I do miss watching ESPN every once in a while.

22. It seems like I never turn off my iPhone. I need to start doing this more. Working on the internet usually makes me want to check up on everything all the time.

I have a New Year's Resolution that I am incorporating. I am using Google Calendar to organize everything. It has been working great, and I enjoy being extra organized.

Any others?

Guest's picture

I <3 resolutions... especially when they help me to remember to read more books and add more culture to my life! :)

I propose one more resolution-- get better at something you love this year! For my hubby and I, that's swing dancing! The vague resolution is to "go to more swing dances this year." The more specific resolution is to go to a workshop every other month. We love to go dancing, but it seems like "life" gets in the way often, so we're resoluting to make sure that we make time for and get better at one of our favorite things!

Good luck to all of you with your resolutions, and happy 2012!

Guest's picture

I picked 12 goals for 2012. 25 is overwhelming for me, but we have so many of the same bad habits it made me laugh. :) Good luck!

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