Folks have been making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions for millennia. The trend apparently kicked off with the Ancient Babylonians, who rang in the new year by promising their gods to right wrongs and return stolen goods. Medieval knights also got in on the fun, re-committing themselves to their lords every Christmas with a special “peacock vow.” And though a lot has changed since then, many still view the new year as a time for self-reflection and self-improvement.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do. More often than not, ambitious promises to work out more, eat healthier, and change toxic habits are abandoned long before spring has sprung. So, how do you make resolutions that’ll actually stick?
In my opinion, it’s all about keeping things practical and actionable. The loftier the goal, the higher the fall, so it’s crucial to be at least somewhat realistic. With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some resolution ideas that are as easy to pull off as they are to manage.
In a creative slump? Commit to doing one cultural activity a month. This could mean visiting an art museum, watching a foreign film, seeing a play, listening to an album from front to back, or going to a reading at your local library.
No matter the venture, it’s about getting out there and experiencing new things. Art has a way of reinvigorating the soul, so make a vow to get your culture vulture on whenever possible.
If you’re someone who struggles with stress and anxiety, you may want to practice cultivating some mindfulness in the new year. Though the term “mindfulness” may sound a little esoteric, it’s really just about slowing down and taking stock of how you’re feeling in the present moment. It’s like a wonderful little pause button you can press anytime you need to take a beat and check in with yourself.
And thankfully, incorporating mindfulness into your routine is super easy! You can journal at night before bed, take a long walk every Saturday morning around your neighborhood, or greet each day with a quick meditation. Whatever you do, be consistent and you’ll be wowed by the sense of calm it produces.
Break a Habit
Now this one is a bit of a doozy, but could have big returns if you stick with it. The goal here is to take one “bad” habit you have and actively work to change it. By focusing on a single behavior (as opposed to several), you’ll be better able to identify when it rears its ugly head. Then, you can apply some pre-planned strategies to combat it.
For example, if you tend to talk over others when they speak, maybe you’ll be extra mindful in conversations by asking engaging questions and listening to someone’s full point before jumping in. It’ll feel a little mechanical at first, but the practice will help solidify you’re newly formed good behavior.
Do Some Friend Maintenance
At the start of the new year, make a list of all your dearest friends. It doesn’t need to be a long list, but it does need to include the people who mean the most to you. Then, figure out a plan for how you’re going to maintain those friendships over the course of the year.
Maybe one pal will get a good long phone call every month. Maybe another will be your plus one to any and all work-related events. No need to make it formulaic, just try to make space and time for all the relationships you can’t afford to lose.
Donate to Charity
If you’re looking for a set-it-and-forget-it resolution, this is the one for you. Simply choose an organization, group, or cause you believe in and set up a monthly donation. It’s as easy as shopping online and much more impactful. Plus, you’ll likely be put on an email newsletter that’ll keep you updated on how your money is being spent and what initiatives your group is working on.
Take a Class
If your biggest issue with resolutions is follow-through, I highly recommend signing up for a class. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try photography or you’ve been itching to get back into writing poetry. Whatever it is, hold yourself accountable by putting down a deposit on a course and showing up every week. This tight structure may not work for some folks, but it could be a real boon for those who struggle with self-motivation. Plus, it’ll surround you with like-minded folks with whom you can continue to pursue the hobby once the class is over.
Fix Your Face
Do yourself a favor and figure out how to take care of your face this year. You may not think you need to do more than scrub it with body wash in the shower, but I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to invest in a six-step skin-care process, but you should probably be doing a little more upkeep than you are.
I’d start by finding a cleanser and moisturizer that you like. The cleanser will rid your skin of dirt and other impurities while the moisturizer will help soothe your pores after they’ve been thoroughly cleansed. I personally use a tea tree oil-based cleanser and finish things off with a little cold cream mixed with jojoba oil. But everybody’s skin is different, so do some research to find a regime that’ll work for you.
Well, that does it for this round-up! For more advice, take a look at our guide on how to take control of your mental health.
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