11 Small, Realistic New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Now that 2016’s highly sought after conclusion is finally within our grasps, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how we may reinvent ourselves in the coming year.

Resolutions start off as these great perceptions of what we hope a new chapter in our lives will bring, but the truth is they typically result in empty promises and a whole lot of frustration. This is mostly because we align ourselves with unrealistic goals that either aren’t achievable or aren’t what we really want.

For 2017, try setting yourself up for success rather than disappointment by choosing a few specific and realistic resolutions that are not only doable, but will make you feel better about yourself day to day.

1. Give yourself a 2017 mantra.

What phrase will keep you going throughout the year? Or better yet, what is something you consistently struggle with that could use a reoccurring boost? For instance, if you’re like me and need more assertion in your life, maybe your mantra would be something along the lines of “I will speak my mind and not be talked over.” Of course, you can probably come up with something more elegant or catchy, but you get the gist. While this may seem like a silly practice, you’d be surprised at the power repetition can hold. If you think it long enough, you’ll start to believe it.

2. Plan at least one trip.

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Even if it’s only for a long weekend or a one-day solo adventure, plan something. Pick a date, save some cash, and go. Having something to look forward to when the work days become long and monotonous does wonders for your mood and your productivity. You can also spread out your planning week to week to give yourself small goals. Think, “If I just get through this week, I can shop for a new travel bag and make my packing list.”

3. Spend 30-ish minutes outside every day.

Spending time outdoors is not only beneficial to your physical health, but also your mental state. If you work in an office or spend the majority of your day with your pupils glued to a computer screen, taking 20-30 minutes to just be outside can make a huge difference, particularly on those seemingly endless days. Breathe some fresh air and give your mind a break every once in a while, you deserve it.

4. Subscribe to a magazine or newspaper.

Every year I make myself the same promise, that I’m going to make an effort to read more. Not for work or for school, but just for enjoyment. However, this often doesn’t happen because I get distracted by the day to day and don’t take the time to pick up something new. That’s why in 2017 I’ll be subscribing to either a magazine or newspaper so that each month a reading opportunity will fall on my doorstep and remind me to take a moment for myself. Reading is also great for your health according to several studies.

5. Start a journal.

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Try keeping a daily or more likely a weekly journal in 2017. You can use this as an excuse for a trip to Barnes & Nobles or Half Price Books or even Amazon to find the perfect moleskin or whichever design you prefer that matches your personality and will inspire you to write. Don’t think of it as an assignment or something you have to do because then you’ll resent the actual practice and lose the purpose entirely. Think of journaling as a way to release everything you’ve experienced or felt at the end of the day or week. Not only is it extremely therapeutic, but you’ll have immortalized your memories even if they’re as simple as what you did at work that day.

6. Do more things alone.

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For some reason that I will never understand, society tends to stigmatize solo activities, particularly for females. Why? Why is it so weird for a woman to do something alone? It’s bullshit. This stigma can often deter people from say catching a movie on their own or going on a solo adventure, but it really shouldn’t. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time just by yourself. Personally, I love doing things on my own. It gives me space to think and silence to envelop myself in. Being alone is good for the soul, so give it a try in 2017 even if it scares the living shit out of you. Start small maybe a hike or a bike ride or even just a day shopping. You’ll be surprised at how independent and strong you feel.

7. Attempt the 50-minute phone challenge.

It’s no secret that we spend an inordinate amount of time glued to our tiny screens rather than embracing the big picture. Back in 2015, Vogue published an article challenging people to stay off their phones for the first and last 50 minutes of every day. The purpose being that we improve our sleep and start the mornings on a more refreshed note. Sounds simple enough right? Like any good practice, it’s much easier said than done but it’s definitely worth a try (notice how I titled this with “attempt.”) I’m adding this one to my personal list of resolutions as well because I spend way too much time spooning with my iPhone when I could be actually sleeping.

8. Download Duolingo on your phone and use it.

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This is another resolution I will most certainly be adding to my personal list. I studied Spanish all throughout college and even studied abroad. At one point I considered myself fully bilingual, but overtime the fluency has begun to slip away and it could not be more frustrating. Of all the language apps out there, Duolingo is by far the best way to learn (or freshen up on) a new language. The lessons are challenging, but practical and the app will even remind you when it’s time to practice. Best of all, it’s FREE.

9. Volunteer at least once.

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Every year we set out to be, at the very least, a remotely better version of ourselves. The problem with this is that it lacks specificity. How will we be better? How will we make a difference? Volunteering is just one of many ways to give back to your community. Do your research, find a charity or group near by and plan one activity that you can realistically do to help out. If you’re really enjoying it, bump your goal up to once a month and maybe even get a friend to go with you.

10. Make yourself a priority.

While this may sound like a no brainer, it’s extremely important to take time for yourself in the coming year. Self care is not only good for your health, but it’s inherently empowering. You’ll be surprised at how great you feel and how well you interact with other people in your life when you’ve taken the time to simply help yourself out. There are many ways to do this, so find one that works for you that you know you’ll be able to do every day.

11. Work less, but more efficiently.

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This principle is easier said than done, but when accomplished can change your entire lifestyle. Set out your goals for work at the beginning of every day, remove any unnecessary distractions, and outsource any tasks that you possibly can. You’ll find that your productivity will sky rocket and you’ll have more time for yourself and a life outside of the office. Crazy right? You can read more about this method in The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris.

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