Obviously, none of us anticipated a pandemic when we set our 2020 New Year’s resolutions. So how do you go about the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions for 2021 when you don’t know what will happen?
Fortunately for you, I’ve put together a list of 40 New Year’s resolutions ideas for a happy, healthy, and more balanced you in 2021. Perhaps you select just one idea and focus all your energy on making it a priority in your life or you are feeling super motivated to make this your best year yet and want to accomplish all 40.
These 40 ideas have been put together with the following intentions in mind: improved wellness, self-care, physical and mental health.
I know that one thing we all learned from 2020 was the importance of our physical and emotional health. It’s time to put you first, so let’s start tackling this list together!
All 40 ideas at a glance
- 1. Make a budget & stick to it
- 2. Try a new recipe each week
- 3. Read more books
- 4. Join a club
- 5. Tidy up each week
- 6. Drink less alcohol
- 7. Eat more veggies
- 8. Share your resolutions with a friend
- 9. Schedule all your doctor’s visits
- 10. Take care of a plant (or two)
- 11. Plan a vacation
- 12. Start a yoga practice
- 13. Invest in your skincare
- 14. Drink more water
- 15. Start therapy
- 16. Volunteer
- 17. Listen to a book while exercising
- 18. Try weight lifting
- 19. Mix up your workouts
- 20. Hang up some photos
- 21. Delegate more chores
- 22. Donate old clothes
- 23. Explore new hobbies
- 24. Play upbeat music
- 25. Start taking your lunch break
- 26. Learn self-compassion
- 27. Start meal planning
- 28. Practice gratitude
- 29. Start journaling
- 30. Focus on single-tasking
- 31. Walk more
- 32. Make sleep a priority
- 33. Make a self-care plan
- 34. Get more sunlight
- 35. Learn to manage your stress
- 36. Learn to breathe correctly
- 37. Start your morning positively
- 38. Try a social media detox
- 39. Meditate in the mornings
- 40. Get rid of clutter
1. Make a budget & stick to it
Having a budget is one New Year’s resolutions goal that will help significantly improve your well-being and reduce your stress now and in the future. Stop living in chronic financial stress and make this a priority.
If you’re one of the folks out there living paycheck to paycheck and have no emergency savings, then read Total Money Makeover, outline a budget and focus on getting control over your finances.
2. Try a new recipe each week
Do you find yourself eating out more often than you’d like because you don’t have time to cook? Or perhaps you’re bored from eating the same meals every week.
Trying a new recipe each week is a New Year’s resolutions goal that you can actually practice since there are so many food bloggers out there who will email you weekly.
If you don’t know already, I’m all about meal planning as part of my self-care routine. You can read more about it in The best meal planning guide for beginners and get some ideas and links to easy recipes.
3. Read more books
As a young child, reading helped me learn how to communicate better in a foreign language and learn critical thinking skills. Books have always been a big part of my self-care routine because it helps me slow down, travel to another world, and use my imagination.
If you’re someone who wants to start reading more books, I highly suggest GoodReads which provides recommendations based on what you’ve previously read, connects you with authors and people who have similar tastes and you also join a reading challenge as a New Year’s Resolutions goal in 2021.
4. Join a club
Starting a new hobby is one thing, but joining a club will help you meet new people in the process. Sites like Meetup can help you find a group of people with similar interests, and you can work on creating digital meetups with new friends in the process.
I met two of my good friends by joining a book club! You’ll be surprised by how pleasant it is to join a club and you’ll encounter people you probably never would have otherwise.
5. Tidy up each week
I hate clutter in our house. It stresses me out and irritates me. Fortunately, I’m married to someone who also likes to live in a tidy environment, so we both make a concerted effort to tidy up daily to avoid a messy home.
Whether you use Kondo’s method or you have your own system, making a New Year’s resolutions goal of tidying up weekly has numerous benefits for you including feeling calmer and more focused.
6. Drink less alcohol
Cutting back on alcohol has several benefits for your overall health and well-being. So maybe your 2021 New Years Resolutions goal is to drink less?
If you’re interested, learn more about the sober curious movement, find out how different (and better) your life would be if you stopped drinking.
One thing is for sure, drinking less alcohol or being sober all together will help you save a lot of money…which works well with your goal of living on a budget.
7. Eat more veggies
Remember what I’ve said previously about “you are what you eat?” Yeah, it’s a general mantra I follow since I really believe what you eat makes a difference in your self-care, mood, energy, health, and overall well-being.
Try to incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits into your weekly meal planning and even going to the farmer’s market. One way of doing it is to challenge yourself to have a variety of colors on your plate every day. My friend Kristen Kirkpatrick, RD has some fantastic ideas on how to do this.
9. Schedule all your doctor’s visits
I’m shocked by the number of people I know who have not seen a physician and use urgent care as their doctor. Perhaps you think, “I’m young, I’m healthy, why do I need to see a doctor?”
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience as a medical social worker. Find and establish care with a primary care doctor.
In January, make all your doctor’s appointments for the whole year, and attend them. Make sure you complete your annual comprehensive blood work, screenings, etc., You will save yourself countless hours of anxiety, stress, money, and time in the future by being proactive and getting preventive health care.
10. Take care of a plant (or two)
Did you know that being around indoor plants can lower your stress levels? One study even found that actively caring for plants calms your autonomic nervous system and lowers your blood pressure. Even better, when you work near plants, your concentration and mood improve.
So one easy New Year’s resolution can be to take care of a plant. If you’re not sure what type of plant is right for you, stop by the garden center and talk to the florist. Tell them what you’re looking for and they can play matchmaker to find your ideal plant for your home or office.
11. Plan a vacation
You may think this is a ridiculous New Year’s resolutions goal but according to research, planning, and thinking about an upcoming vacation can boost your happiness for weeks.
One of the best activities my husband and I started doing during the pandemic was to take road trips. It’s safe, inexpensive, easy to do, and still gives us the emotional boost of traveling to a distant location. We both love to travel overseas, but until it’s safe to fly, we’re sticking to road trips.
So think about a few places that are easy to drive to and plan a day or weekend trip. It is a great way to get out for a change of pace and try something different.
12. Start a yoga practice
I’ve been practicing yoga several days a week while working from home. I’m amazed at how my anxiety has decreased, my sleep has improved and I feel stronger and more resilient.
In fact, new research suggests that yoga directly influences our nervous systems, making us happier and healthier.
If you’re new to yoga or even an experienced yogi, check out Sierra Noland’s secrets to yoga will make you change your life and find out what happened when I did Hot yoga for 2 weeks!
13. Invest in your skincare
One of the best self-care rituals and New Year’s resolutions you can incorporate into your daily routine is to take better care of your skin. To do this, start following these skincare tips and invest in yourself.
Remember, your skin is the largest organ of your body, and it is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.
14. Drink more water
Did you know that your body is made up of 70% water? Your cells depend on being hydrated to function at their best. When you’re well-hydrated, you’ll notice that you will eat less, are in a better mood, and have more energy.
The easiest way to stay hydrated is to carry around a water bottle. My favorite water bottle is from Lifefactory because it is made out of glass and not plastic. I take my water bottle everywhere I go.
15. Start therapy
Do you want to work through your emotional baggage so you’re in a better state of mental and emotional health now and in years to come?
If this sounds like you, check out This is how to start therapy the right way to find out if therapy is right for you, and how to find a good therapist. You can also access free online support groups on topics ranging from anxiety to addiction.
Research shows that volunteering regularly can lead to less stress and lower blood pressure and improve your mental health. If you’re not sure where to start, create a profile on Volunteer Match and you will be matched with opportunities that highlight your strengths, skills, and interests.
17. Listen to a book while exercising
Do you want to combine goals of reading and exercising as your New Year’s Resolutions? Then listen to an audiobook while exercising!
According to a research study by Management Science, exercisers that listened to an audiobook worked out 51% more than those who didn’t.
You can download free audiobooks from Hoopla Digital with your library card.
18. Try weight lifting
Do you want to get stronger, have better posture, and boost your metabolism? Then try weight lifting as a New Year’s resolutions goal. Remember, weight lifting isn’t just about bulking up and building muscle mass. You can also have better sleep, gain bone density, maintain weight loss, and reduce inflammation.
My favorite set of dumbells that I use with my home workouts are Tone It Up Dumbbells from Target. They’re inexpensive, comfortable, and easy to use.
19. Mix up your workouts
There are lots of benefits of doing this, primarily because your brain likes change, your body will thank you and most importantly you will be happier. If you’re still not convinced, read 7 reasons why you should mix up your workouts.
20. Hang up some photos
Did you know that displaying photos improve your happiness? In happy and long-lived cultures, people often display items from their families’ pasts, says The Blue Zones of Happiness author Dan Buettner. “They remember and honor where they come from,” he says. “We find that in happier cultures around the world, folks feel like part of a continuum.”
So find and frame some of your favorite photos or hang meaningful memorabilia on shelves.
21. Delegate more chores
Do you hate doing chores and procrastinate or avoid them altogether? You’re not alone. Delegating chores is one New Year’s Resolutions idea that many of us can try to improve our life.
If you have the resources, try a time-saving service like TaskRabbit to get someone to clean out your garage, assemble furniture, or clean your home.
If money is tight, swap your chores with a friend so you both help each other out!
22. Donate old clothes
When was the last time you went through your closet and drawers and got rid of clothes you don’t wear? If it’s been more than 1 year, then one of your 2021 New Years Resolutions is to conquer your closet.
To do this properly, you have to set aside time and a few big bags for your donations. Then go through each item, one by one. First, check if the clothes are in good condition. Next, see if you wear it regularly and lastly if you have not worn it for over 1 year, it’s time to donate or sell it. My favorite place to sell clothes I don’t wear is CrossRoads Trading Company.
23. Explore new hobbies
We all have a daily routine that we adhere to that works for us. However, exploring new hobbies will help you get out of your comfort zone.
One of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2021 can be to try something new once a month. Perhaps you can try a new cuisine, take a painting class or try rollerblading. Something fun and different will eliminate boredom and boost your mental and emotional health.
24. Play upbeat music
Want to feel happy right away? Then play upbeat music. Research shows that a happy tune has remarkable benefits like reducing pain during exercise, elevating your mood, and lowering stress.
Make a playlist or ask Alexa to help you out with finding some happy songs.
25. Start taking your lunch break
Are you one of the folks that skip their lunch break or eats while sitting at their desk? According to a survey, only 1 in 5 Americans actually takes a lunch break even though taking a lunch break actually improves your productivity.
So make your 2021 New Year’s Resolutions goals to take your lunch break. Perhaps you go on a 30-minute walk or you read a book. Whatever you do, step away from your work station, stop working, and relax during your lunch break.
26. Learn self-compassion
One lesson that I’ve learned during the past year is to have more kindness towards myself and thus practice more self-compassion. Jessica Neff says “With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”
Moreover, research shows that practicing self-compassion slowed people’s heart rate and sweating, two results of being under chronic stress. So take some time each day to focus on something you love about yourself.
27. Start meal planning
One of the best steps you can take towards improving your self-care, physical health, and saving money is to start meal planning.
I truly believe that you are what you eat and consuming healthy nutritious food is critical in your overall health and well-being. In addition, you will save a lot of time and money which is something all of us strive for.
Not sure where to start? Check out The best meal planning guide for beginners.
28. Practice gratitude
What would you say if I told you that practicing gratitude (ideally writing in a journal) is an easy solution to relieve your stress, anxiety, and worries.
There are numerous benefits of having a regular gratitude practice. For one, gratitude remarkably creates chemical changes in your brain, which causes a positivity chain reaction. Learn more at How to start a gratitude practice and change your life.
29. Start journaling
The beauty of journaling is that it “gives voice to your feelings.” Having a space to write is a way to channel parts of your mind that you didn’t know existed until you started accessing them. To get started read Journaling for Beginners: A guide to reduce your stress and solve your problems.
30. Focus on single-tasking
Do you think you get more done if you multitask? Oddly enough, multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient, it makes you more stressed and less productive.
If you want to be more mindful and learn to single-task, organize your activities into chunks of time, like cooking time, and cleaning time. Next, commit to being focused on only those tasks. You’d be surprised by how much better you feel and the more you get accomplished.
31. Walk more
We all sit way more than we should and even if you can’t start a new fitness routine, you can try walking more. Walking is a simple yet effective way to get moving, increase physical activity, and even promotes weight loss.
Most smartphones have a built-in step tracker so try walking more as you New Year’s Resolutions goal for 2021.
32. Make sleep a priority
Sleep is an essential part of your life and something that you need to devote to doing to preserve your mental and physical health. Establishing good habits will make a significant difference in your life because you will find that you have more energy and feel better.
To get started, one of your New Year’s Resolutions should be to follow these 8 simple tips to help you sleep better, feel more energetic and productive during your day.
33. Make a self-care plan
Self-care is growing in popularity. It’s a hot topic that gets a lot of attention, especially right now with the uncertainty and stress that we are all living in. However, in spite of the self-care trend, many people continue to struggle to understand what it means and how to get enough of it.
34. Get more sunlight
Sunlight is essential for your mental and physical health. Light exposure has a ton of positive effects including setting your internal body clock, helping improve your sleep, and regulating your hormones.
Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day getting natural sunlight exposure. If natural sunlight is unavailable, you can still get the neurological and psychological benefits from an artificial lightbox.
35. Learn to manage your stress
When you’re under stress, the amygdala in your brain is activated, consequently releasing cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals are designed to help you for a short time.
When you’re under chronic stress, there is inflammation in your body, and your immune system is suppressed. Consequently, you’re more likely going to get sick and your skin will break out. For this year’s New Year’s Resolutions check out The ultimate way to fast stress relief.
36. Learn to breathe correctly
Whenever you are feeling stressed and anxious, it is common to have shallow breathing. To change this, you can focus on your breathing which will reset the “fight or flight response.” In addition, deep breathing can prevent the onset of panic, and the unpleasant physical symptoms associated with anxiety.
Next time you are beginning to feel anxious, try square breathing. Visualize your breath traveling along a square. As you follow the instructions to inhale, hold your breath, or exhale, count slowly to four on each side.
37. Start your morning positively
In the morning when you first wake up, (before you look at your phone) take a few minutes to quietly reflect and express gratitude for what is going well in your life. This is a simple exercise, yet it reaps numerous benefits according to positive psychologists.
39. Meditate in the mornings
Meditation is a simple practice that is available to you at any time and has remarkable effects on your brain and body. Studies have shown that regular meditation practice reduces stress, helps manage anxiety, increases calmness, and promotes happiness.
You can get a step by step guide on how to begin a meditation practice. Take a deep breath, and get ready to relax and start a path towards self-care, balance, and wellness in 2021.
40. Get rid of clutter
Do you sometimes open a drawer and find it stuffed and then immediately close it because you don’t want to “deal with it.” Yeah, I know the feeling but you’ll thank yourself later once you start going through it and donating/recycling/disposing of items.
There are numerous benefits to decluttering. Start now so that you’ll feel more energized, less anxious, stressed, and more relaxed in 2021.
2020 was quite an unusual year for all of us. I’m not sure about you, but when I look back at this past year, it’s still hard for me to fully wrap my head around everything that happened. The meaning of time has shifted for me and I’ve been forced to be more present orientated.
This year was tough but I’m grateful for the little self-care practices that helped me stay resilient.
Like you, I’m not sure what 2021 has in store for any of us, but I know that dedicating my time and energy to my physical health, emotional and mental wellness will only help me.
I hope I inspired you with these 40 ideas for New Year’s resolutions for 2021 because I know that focusing your attention on wellness and self-care only helps you and those around you.
So if you feel bold tell me which of these 40 ideas you have selected as your New Year’s resolution! Perhaps by writing a comment below you’ll have a whole community to keep you accountable in achieving this goal.
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