Don’t believe the hype: Setting a New Year’s resolution is worth doing every year. With the right intent, chasing a goal or two promotes discipline, reinforces accountability and encourages self-reflection. It makes you better.
However, goals aren’t always easy to reach. On January 1 you may be pumped up and ready to go, planning to tackle your resolutions with ease. But what about January 31? By then, many people realize how fickle motivation can be. It comes and goes at random, and that alone makes some resolutions hard to stick with. In fact, a landmark study by the University of Scranton found that 77 percent of the 200 people surveyed abandoned their commitments after just one week.
Why is it so hard for people?
One reason may be the tendency, year after year, to set generic, cut-and-paste New Year’s resolutions. You know the usual suspects: shrinking your waistline, making more money or seizing the power that comes with a promotion. Presented as common sense goals anyone should have, these are fine in theory and worth achieving. However, the resolutions aren’t specific enough.
To reach success with your resolution, you have to restructure the way you set goals to activate your strengths. A good place to start is by making resolutions that actually ignite your passions. In Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, author Mark Murphy explains this using the acronym HARD. (It stands for Heartfelt, Animated, Required, and Difficult.)
- Heartfelt: You have an existential obsession with your goal.
- Animated: The vision of achieving your goal motivates you.
- Required: Your goal is so urgent you have no choice but to pursue it.
- Difficult: The challenge fulfills you at every stage.
This changes things when it comes to goal setting, doesn’t it? Setting HARD goals strengthens the sense of purpose you already possess. After conducting research for his book, Murphy found that people who chose HARD goals were up to 75 percent more fulfilled in their lives.
So, what does a HARD goal look like for you? To bring you closer to the answer, here are 16 creative New Year’s resolutions that go beyond the basics.
1 / Visit at least four national parks
Traveling to new places creates memories that make life meaningful. But guess what? You don’t have to maneuver airport security, squeeze onto a plane, and land in a faraway oasis to have fun.
Chances are, there’s wonder and excitement near where you are. If your state or the surrounding ones have several national parks, make a resolution to explore the rolling plains and sprawling forests you’ve never seen before.
2 / Try one vegan snack each month
Eating healthy is about building a roster of delicious yet nutritious foods that you enjoy. Instead of launching an overwhelming commitment to a new diet, take baby steps by expanding your palate.
A good place to start is with wholesome, vegan snacks. They’re getting better all the time, and slowly introducing them to your taste buds promotes healthy living.
3 / Redecorate your home to match your desired energy
Forget the popular home decor trends. This resolution requires some serious soul searching. To fill your space with the right vibes, ask yourself one question: How do I want to feel when I get home?
Use your answer to finding lighting, furniture, and plants that inspire your most ideal mood. Each homecoming is a chance to calibrate your energy for the next day, so redecorate with intention.
4 / Take yourself on a leisurely date once a month
Dating yourself can be fun. As a ‘you’ connoisseur, you already know which activities bring joy to your life. Now all you have to do is be intentional about rewarding yourself with these experiences.
For you, perhaps it’s cracking into two pounds of crab legs. Or maybe it’s visiting your favorite museum to see a new art exhibit. No matter how busy 2021 becomes, get some much-needed alone time to pamper yourself.
5 / Listen to educational podcasts while playing video games
Want to fill your brain with more knowledge? Do it while playing an easy game you’ve beaten plenty of times. This resolution works because the muscle memory of gameplay won’t distract you from listening and learning. And best of all, you’ll save time by mixing entertainment with education.
If you need podcast suggestions, try Science Vs or Invisibilia. These are great listens when you want to learn something few people know.
6 / Learn every dance that goes viral in 2021
Remember the Dab? The Renegade? The Woah? If none of these sound familiar, don’t miss the next dance craze because FOMO is the worst. (Also, we’ve yet to see someone do those dances without a huge smile on their face.)
Maybe that’s because dancing is armor. Somehow, all that movement boosts your happiness in a way that protects you from bad vibes. If you do nothing else this year, dance freely!
7 / Wait 48 hours before making big purchases
A new year doesn’t just mean a new you. For some of us, it also means new stuff. If you’re contemplating an expensive purchase, wait two days before swiping your debit or credit card. It’s a good test to see if you truly needed the item or simply had a fleeting, emotional urge to shop. Either way, take some time to figure it out before you spend too much money and break your budget.
8 / Grow fruits and vegetables on your patio
Gardens have gotten smaller and more manageable over the years. If you’re adamant about eating food you can trust, try growing your own.
Tomatoes and certain herbs are great for beginners, and there’s nothing like enjoying a self-made harvest. You’ll just need pots, seeds, the right soil, some netting, and patio space for the entire setup. This can work for apartments and houses alike, so give it a try.
9 / Ditch your car and cycle to destinations within five miles
Tired of the gym and how it’s always packed at the beginning of the year? Switch things up by cycling to nearby destinations. You can ride your bike to visit neighbors, the grocery store, or anywhere you’re willing to pedal for a quick errand. Driving is faster, so you’re bound to miss the convenience now and then. But just remember: Cycling gives you exercise and enviable legs.
10 / Start a YouTube channel to experience low-risk entrepreneurship
Did you realize it’s free to start a YouTube channel? Unlike a blog that requires hosting fees, you can gain a YouTube following with just WiFi service and a smartphone. Plus, starting a YouTube channel is a safe way to try entrepreneurship for the first time. You’ll improve your speaking skills, learn the value of consistency, stretch your creativity, network via collaborations, and hopefully, gain a profitable side hustle selling AdSense ads or by netting a sponsor.
11 / Mail letters of gratitude to close friends and family
We hear it all the time: Give people their roses while they can still smell them. If you have family and friends that mean the world to you, show your appreciation for the happiness and joy they bring to your life. One powerful way to do that is by mailing letters of gratitude. Life takes us in different directions over time, but handwritten notes will help you keep the feelings of connection.
12 / Network your way to success at virtual conferences
Zoom meetings are hot right now, which means virtual conferences are too. For those who can’t easily travel, this levels the playing field in a big way.
Networking is the best part of conferences, and you can still do that in a virtual setting. Before you purchase a ticket, read the event schedule to see how far the opportunities go. Are there breakout sessions that make use of Zoom’s chat rooms? Or perhaps a small group Q&A where everyone gets to speak? If so, a powerful networking opportunity awaits.
13 / Turn leftovers into new meals with SuperCook
Cooking meals at home is one of the best ways to save money. Luckily, you can take this no-waste resolution to the next level by downloading the SuperCook app.
This straightforward cooking assistant is easy to use. All you have to do is open the app, tap the mic icon, and say which ingredients you have in your kitchen. In a few seconds, SuperCook does the hard work by collecting recipes that use most or all your ingredients.
14 / Fuse your hobbies with your workday
There’s a growing consensus that work-life integration trumps work-life balance. Instead of giving each task equal weight—having dinner with family, responding to all of your emails, cleaning the house—realize that a certain amount of give and take keeps everything in check.
This is especially important when it comes to hobbies. They’re hard to squeeze into your day and often go unnoticed or unpracticed. To change that, include them in your daily routines. You can study a new language on your lunch break or play guitar during a 15-minute work break. It’s up to you!
15 / Check out one book from your public library each month
Jim Rohn said it best: “Everything you need for a better future and success has already been written. And guess what? All you have to do is go to the library.” Want to learn the secrets of investing? Scaling a business? Building better relationships? It’s all written down somewhere in a free, accessible book.
16 / Learn to fix something you use often
Ideally, fix it before it breaks. You know the things you’re worried about: the washer and dryer, sliding patio door, the refrigerator, the coffee maker. When you’re out and about, it could be anything: a flat tire a or tangled bike chain. If something’s valuable to you and makes your life better, demystify how it works. That way, you can save time and money by fixing it yourself.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photo by @kirillvasilevcom/Twenty20.com