When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it can be easy to get stuck on the same old things you say you’re going to change every year. Maybe you always claim you’re going to start working out more or focus on becoming a nicer person—but it’s easy to let those goals fall by the wayside. Whatever your usual resolutions are, consider committing to more creative New Year’s resolutions this year.
You’re more likely to follow through with a more unique resolution. Maybe you want something to help you travel more or a way to commit t0 learning more this year—whatever it is, these 20 creative New Year’s resolutions will help you be happier and healthier in 2020.
Throw a dart on the map and go there.
Everyone knows that Cabo and Maui are breathtaking getaways from an unrelenting winter freeze, but with more than 200 countries out there, how can you limit yourself to just the popular tourist traps?
A luxury resort might afford you the comforts of shamelessly stuffing your face at the buffet or getting a deep tan, but it won’t challenge your ideas about the world and your place in it. If you have the means and the funds, throw a dart on the map and go somewhere more off the beaten path. When you live as the locals do for a bit, you might just be surprised with what you learn about yourself, and the happiness that self-discovery brings.
Get out into nature more often.
Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to experience more happiness and that includes leaving your home from time to time. After all, a 2015 study published in Landscape and Urban Planning found that even just under an hour’s worth of walking out in nature can make you feel happier, as well as decrease anxiety and improve memory. Go literally smell the roses.
Perform one act of kindness every day.
If you’re really committed to becoming a better person in 2020, make a practical resolution to work toward that goal. Nicole Black, founder of Coffee and Carpool: Raising Kind Kids, says doing something kind for someone else each day is a great way to accomplish this. Whether it’s checking behind you to hold the door open for someone, moving your bag off a chair for someone to sit in, or even smiling at someone on the street, one random act of kindness each day can go a long way.
Find an everyday role model.
Pick one person to admire in 2020. And, no, we’re not talking about a celebrity like Beyoncé, but instead, a regular human being with whom you’re actually acquainted. Maybe it’s your partner, your kids, or even your next-door neighbor.
If you can’t find somebody to look up to without reservation, then savor small slices of several people: Maybe your colleague’s work is always terrific, or your golf buddy had the guts to rebuild his swing. And then tell them—straight on, no irony—that you admire them. Respect keeps you hopeful, and being impressed by others will help you tune up your own performance.
Find someone to mentor.
If you’ve got kids, they’re practically required to think you’re a stellar grown-up. Let that happen. But even if you’re not a parent, once you’ve got a few miles on your odometer, find a young person who could benefit from the lessons you’ve learned along the way. January is National Mentoring Month, after all, so get involved. And remember that while your mentee will certainly benefit from your wisdom, it also does you good to feel big in someone’s eyes.
Change your perception of other people.
One of the easiest ways we make ourselves unhappy isn’t about us at all, but instead, about how we perceive other people. This year, make an effort to cut people some slack. Life coach Matthew Ferry says to “stop holding people accountable to agreements they never made” in 2020.
“It’s hard to be happy when you are annoyed at the people in your life,” he says. “To be happy in 2020, acknowledge that your mind believes that your way of living is the right way and everyone else needs to get on board. Of course, this is completely false. No one signed up for your life program. Let them behave the way they see fit. If you don’t like it, remove yourself or change your context to accept them as they are.”
Invent and host a yearly event.
It doesn’t matter what it is—an Iowa-Mizzou tailgate, a team 10K on Halloween—but do something. While it’s great to attend events, hosting your own each year can give you an easy way to be proud of your work. And being responsible for planning and organizing an annual event is also a creative way to force yourself to become more organized over time.
Be more giving in bed.
When it comes to sex, we sometimes get caught up in what could be done to pleasure ourselves and forget about focusing on our partner. However, this selfishness actually makes you more unhappy. As David Ludden, PhD, writes in Psychology Today, “pleasing your partner is half the fun.” When you make an effort to meet your partner’s needs (and have them try to meet yours, in return), you will have an increase in overall sexual satisfaction.
Make a new friend.
As we get older, it’s common to stop making new friends. For the most part, we’re too busy with our families and careers to focus on the commitments involved in forging early friendships. In fact, researchers at Duke University and the University of Arizona discovered that American adults reported having approximately one fewer friend in 2004 than the same demographic had just two decades earlier. But resist the sense that your roster is full, and focus on drafting a new player this year.
And reconnect with an old friend.
At the same time, as we get older, we tend to lose touch with the people back in our hometown or from college. New is good, but continuity deepens life. Reach out to someone you liked long ago and reconnect with them. They don’t have to become a bestie, but it’s worth your time to let them back into your life.
Connect with a loved one by phone every week.
Whether it’s with friends new or old, make a bigger commitment to reaching out and connecting with those in your life this year. It’s easy to forget to encourage friends who are feeling low, or to celebrate loved ones’ successes. Remember that it doesn’t matter if you have any particular wisdom to share—reach out anyway with a phone call to someone you care about every week.
Undertake a quest.
It’s great if you can undertake a serious quest, like raising money for the music program at your alma mater. But if not, you can settle for a small one. Become obsessive about any goal, whether it’s to climb every Colorado peak over 10,000 feet or to read every book on arctic wolves. Everyone needs a target to aim for, and calling it a “quest” will make you feel that much happier when you finally achieve it.
Spend less time on social media.
Setting a New Year’s resolution to stay off of Instagram is so cliché that at this point, we’re sure even Mark Zuckerberg has thought about doing it. But if you truly want to ring in 2020 with less social media stress, consider using your iPhone’s “screen time” feature. With this function, you can program your phone to limit your time spent on certain apps and even schedule periods when you want specific apps to be unavailable. For Android users, the FamilyTime app provides a similar service.
Think before you snap a pic.
There’s nothing more stressful than trying to find a photo when your phone is full of them, or not being able to snap a new one because you’re out of storage. This year, photo organizer Susan Rosenbaum recommends being smarter when you snap.
“Are you overwhelmed by the number of photos on your phone?” she asks. “Not all photos are meant to be taken, and those that are important in the moment can be shared online then deleted [on your phone] once they’re posted. Let 2020 be your year of meaningful, memorable photo moments.”
Find a shared hobby with your spouse.
In 2020, make more of an effort to explore new hobbies and spend time with your significant other by finding an activity that both of you enjoying partaking in. Whether it’s taking weekly cooking classes or learning a new language, this shared experience will strengthen your marital bond and allow you to expand your horizons the way you’ve been meaning to for years.
Invest in a business you believe in.
If you’ve been setting money aside from every paycheck for years, now is the time to put those funds to good use. This year, find a business that you really believe in and use your discretionary funds to support whatever it is they’re doing.
Even if you’re not business savvy, you can still make a huge difference by buying stock in your favorite eco-friendly clothing brand or affordable watchmaker—and if these companies aren’t public, then just vow to buy as many of their products as possible to ensure that they’re around for years to come.
Commit to making a new source of income.
And if you’re looking to make more money this year, commit to finding a new source of income. Tyler Sellers, CEO of Total Shape, recommends creating a dream budget for the upcoming year and accounting for how much extra money you would need. After doing that, you can decide what to do to raise those funds, whether it’s freelancing, renting out a spare room, or even wrapping your car in paid advertisements.
Listen to a new song every day.
With our busy lives, Zivadream founder Lynell Ross recognizes that we sometimes fall into mundane routines where we text the same people every day, watch the same TV shows, and listen to the same playlists. Change that this year.
“Make a point to break out of the monotony and expand your musical horizons,” Ross suggests. “Make a resolution to listen to a new song that you’ve never heard before every day. Music is one of the most joyful things in life, so don’t be afraid to dip your toes into some new genres. It will help you discover some new beats that you otherwise never would have discovered, and you can impress your family and friends with your knowledge of music.”
And try a new recipe once a month.
While listening to a new song every day may be a simple task, you should also commit to expanding your culinary horizons this year. Luckily, Ross suggests this as a monthly resolution—not a daily one.
“Forget the spaghetti and burgers and taco salad,” she says. “Make a commitment to trying out a new recipe regularly, particularly a recipe outside your comfort zone, like Lebanese kibbeh or Turkish köfte. Your family will enjoy trying something new and different, and getting outside your comfort zone will help you grow as a chef and a person.”
Participate in #The100DayProject.
Maybe you don’t consider yourself to be a creative person or you find yourself too busy to invest time in making a masterpiece. No matter how you’re limiting yourself, shrug it off and open up to creativity this year by participating in #The100DayProject.
The idea is simple: You commit to doing something consistently for 100 days and post your progress online each day. Whether it’s writing a book, building a portfolio, or practicing a new skill, all you have to do is dedicate five to ten minutes to your creative side each day for 100 days. And while the official organization usually starts in April, you can begin #The100DayProject whenever it’s best for you.