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9 New Years Resolution Ideas for Twenty-Somethings

And ‘stop procrastinating’ isn’t one of them.

Picture this: it’s 10 AM on January 1st. You just woke up with a headache from last night’s champagne and want nothing more than a big gulp of water. And a McDouble. As your brain determines whether water or coffee is more immediately essential, you remember: today is the day you begin your New Year’s resolutions.

We know, New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone. Some people think you should always be setting goals and not waiting for the New Year… which, by the way, we happen to agree with. But there’s is something exciting about kicking off a new year with hopes and dreams about what you can accomplish. After you hydrate, of course.

Historically, we’ve all made unattainable resolutions. Run four miles a day, read one book a week, stop drinking forever, never say a mean word again. And (duh) those never lasted past January 4th. You can’t go from being a certified trash-talker to Mother Theresa overnight.

New Year's Resolutions

What are good New Year’s resolutions?

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals, which, if you haven’t, stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Basically, whatever resolutions you set need to be something you can actually track and accomplish.

This is a good place to start when setting your New Year’s resolutions. And we definitely agree that the more attainable and track-able, the better. But in our opinion, not every single resolution needs to be quite this precise. What’s most important is putting together a list of resolutions that you feel emotionally drawn to.

New Year's Resolutions - Happy New Year

Humans are innately lazy. We’re not going to exert a ton of effort towards something we’re not passionate about. Build your goals based on your personal definition of success and not society’s. Rejoice, because no, you don’t need to drink celery juice every morning or have hard-to-maintain routines to be successful..

Your goals should tow the line between being realistic, but also pushing you. So while a goal like ‘walk 10,000 steps every day’ may be unrealistic (hello, what if it rains?), ‘walk 10,000 steps once a quarter’ is equally unmotivating. Meet somewhere in the middle with something like ‘walk 10,000 steps a day for at least 20 days of the month.’ Then you don’t feel like crap when your body inevitably really needs a couch day. Or ten.

New Year's Resolutions - fireworks

How to Set New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

Setting resolutions is a process. Give yourself time to digest your thoughts and decide what your focus areas should be in the next calendar year. Genius doesn’t happen overnight!

One of the best places to begin for goal-setting is by reflecting on the past year. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Read through old journal entries
  • Look at last year’s resolutions & determine if they’re still a priority
  • Brain dump thoughts from this year onto a sheet of paper or audio recording on your phone (we like this method a lot). Share what you were proud of, what you want to do differently, and what is missing from your life that you want in the future

New Year's Resolutions - January calendar

Once you’ve picked apart your life, begin jotting down goals that come to mind. One strategy is to categorize your goals into buckets such as: health, mindset, finances, career, relationships, spirituality, education. After determining your top priorities, put goal(s) into each.

Whatever approach you take, we recommend letting your goals sit and coming back to them a few days later. This gives you time to decide which goals you’re excited about and which you can slash. After all, a few days might shed light on how little you actually care to run a half marathon.

Make this process fun! Light a candle, get into something cozy and pour yourself a glass of wine or kombucha. Reflecting and goal-setting should be fun, not a daunting endeavor.

New Year's Resolutions - champagne

9 New Year’s Resolution Ideas if You’re Feeling Stuck

So you’ve done the reflecting and you have a loose idea of some goals you want to accomplish in 2022… but you’re still stuck. We’ve got you.

Below are nine resolution ideas you can consider building into your own list. Take what feels right and leave what doesn’t. These can all be modified as needed to be suitable for your life and priorities.

1. No social media before 9 AM and after 9 PM.

Think of it like intermittent fasting, but from toxicity and FOMO instead of cheeseburgers. By challenging yourself to remove social media during these hours, you’ll wake up happy and go to bed relaxed. After doing this for long enough, you might even find yourself needing social media less and less as a whole.

This is a tangible resolution that will actually contribute to many other goals, like getting better sleep, focusing throughout the day, and feeling more confident. Without awareness and limitations, social media quietly dictates our life. By setting boundaries, you can take back control of your mind. Sorry, Plankton.

New Year's Resolutions - social media break

2. Take time for self-reflection.

The only way to grow is if we stop and pause to think about how things are going. Reflection is a form of self-care. Are we reaching our goals? Have our goals changed? Where do we want to go next?

Try setting a regularly-cadenced time to reflect, whether that be through journaling, recording an audio message, or even filming a video on Photo Booth (for your eyes only, of course). Modify this to whatever works best for you… daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Put a recurring invite on your Google calendar so you remember to reflect more frequently – rather than just once at the end of the year when setting your resolutions.

Goals Typewriter

3. Make one person feel special everyday.

We’ve all heard the Maya Angelou quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We’ve never heard wiser words. If you make the people around you feel special, you’ll improve their day and make yourself feel good. Here are some ideas for how to do that:

  • Give a genuine compliment (bonus points if it’s on their character and not their appearance)
  • Leave a nice comment on social media
  • Text someone that you’re thinking of them
  • Listen intently and demonstrate interest in someone else
  • Send a handwritten card
  • Give a little gift
  • Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru
  • Volunteer for organizations you care about

New Year's Resolutions - Kindness

4. Adopt values-based spending.

The pandemic has forced us rethink a lot of our purchases. We re-evaluated the amount of money we were spending at bars, restaurants, clothing stores and gyms. Our bank accounts have never been more in love with us.

In 2022, pick a few categories you value spending money on and ruthlessly cut back elsewhere. This will help you achieve various savings goals and overall feel a heck of a lot better about your financial life. If you’re into this resolution, we recommend that you check out Ramit Sethi’s book, “I will Teach you to be Rich”.

New Year's Resolutions - no spend

5. Stop apologizing.

We’re all guilty of it. Sorry this is late! So sorry I look like crap! Sorry you asked for a ridiculous request that I cannot fulfill! 

Listen, apologize when you need to apologize. But start paying attention to all of the times you say sorry. You’ll likely find that typically these situations don’t warrant an apology. By removing excessive sorry’s from your vocabulary, you just might find people respect you more. And you’ll develop a stronger sense of self-assurance.

6. Spend 30 minutes a week learning something new.

Or 15 minutes. 60 minutes. 2 hours. Your call.

As adults, we often forget how good it is for us to learn. Thanks to academia, learning can feel pointless without grades to measure our intelligence. But scheduling time to read about an interesting topic or watch a documentary will help your mind grow. And keep up a conversation with your intellectual neighbors.

New Year's Resolutions - learning

7. Move your body everyday.

We’ve all tried to set unrealistic fitness resolutions. Workout for 60 minutes a day! Do yoga every morning! Run a half-marathon!

Listen, those types of goals never work because a) your body needs rest and b) life happens! Sometimes you’re busy as heck and you can’t fathom working out for an hour. Or sacrificing 30 extra minutes of sleep for yoga.

That said, a better goal is to simply move your body. This leaves room for interpretation and the ability to listen to what your body needs. Maybe one day that’s a long run, the next day it’s a walk. It could even be some intense stretching.

New Year's Resolutions - move your body

8. Cut back on gossiping.

We’ve all done it. And if you want to be on the path to emotional health, it doesn’t feel good afterwards. Challenge yourself this year to hold your tongue before you say something negative about someone else or spill their secrets.

This is an example of a goal that’s really hard to measure. There’s really no way to spin it into a SMART goal, but it’s a good intention to keep in mind as you move throughout your year. Just building the awareness that you want to gossip less can help you think twice before sending that judgemental text.

New Year's Resolutions - gossip less

9. Set ‘no spend’ days.

This is exactly what it sounds like: determine days of the week/month where you don’t spend a single dime. For example, maybe each week you set Monday and Tuesday as your “no spend” days. That means no takeout, no shopping, no spontaneous nights on the town.

Of course, these are not hard and fast rules; if something important comes up, you can spend money. However, by designating no spend days, you can help reduce impulse purchases and needless takeout because you were craving a pick-me-up.

New Year's Resolutions - save money

More Resources

Want more on goal-setting as you dive headfirst into the new year? Listen to the podcast episode of Adultescence on goal-setting, reflecting, and New Year’s resolutions.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is a Cambridge-based, Syracuse-born twenty-something who loves coffee, dogs and stalking Zillow for her future home. Her favorite ways to kill time include strolling through Boston’s cobblestone streets, socializing over a glass of wine, and reading finance books (if only 22-year-old Jess were like this).

She has spent the past 4+ years working in Consumer Insights, and when she’s not working on her 9-5, you can find her pursuing her most recent side hustle as a dog sitter. Jess is co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website with the mission of helping post-grads navigate adulthood.

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