How to Make New Year’s Resolutions for 2021
It’s that time of year again. You can’t escape it. Whether it’s your Facebook or Instagram feed, your blog reader, or your inbox, there is a barrage of end-of-the-year starting-of-a-new year mantra of setting goals and creating your New Year’s resolutions for 2021.
But after a year like 2020, how do you do that?
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With small but powerful New Year's resolutions that I believe can change your life.
Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions…and every year, we break them. That’s because we usually set impossible goals and put too much pressure on ourselves to make them work. And instead of appreciating the small changes, we feel guilty because we fail.
The best New Year’s resolutions are simple, concrete, and give us positive energy. Start with small things, and let it build up. With baby steps, you can achieve bigger goals—and feel better about yourself in the process.
For me, it all goes back to one day at a time and the decision to choose happiness.
Here are my humble suggestions for New Year’s resolutions that I think can make you feel stronger, happier, and more confident.
I will exercise the way I want to when I want to.
I put this one first because exercising (along with diet and weight) is usually the #1 new year’s resolution that people make and break. If you want to lose weight or get fit or healthy this year, do it! But don’t feel forced to join the gym. Especially given the pandemic, that may not be the best place to be anyway!
You have more chances of sticking to a fitness program if you actually enjoy it.
Quite frankly, I am not a big fan of exercise. But I do enjoy “accidental” exercise that results in me being outdoors, such as hiking. And for the last several years (our 2 years in Phoenix and our first year here in North Carolina) we have enjoyed the 5-mile walks that Mr. Misadventures and I do at least 3 times a week. We also try to do at least 1 longer walk (up to 10 miles) once a week as well. It works for us.
So, for 2021, spend the first few months of the year trying out different activities. Find a home workout on online or one that allows you to be outside and socially distanced. The cold winter months might make that hard depending on where you live, but bundle up and try to spend 30 minutes outside. Live in an apartment building in an urban environment? Maybe do 30 minutes of stairs (instead of the elevator!).
Your only new year’s resolution goal related to exercise should be to do an activity, any activity, for 30 minutes a day. Make a mental list of what you enjoyed the most, and then go from there. Have fun, and be flexible. The goal is to enjoy the exercise! Based on my experience that is the only way I am going to get any exercise!
I will start enjoying every moment.
Most of the time, we dwell on the past. Regret and disappointment. Or we worry about the future. However, the happiest people in the world have learned to focus on the present. They’re able to appreciate the gifts of each day.
2020 was rough. And at least the first half of 2021 looks to be the same. Let go of the resentment you may have for 2020 and teach yourself to be more aware of each moment. One way to do this is by keeping a journal. Every day, write down what happened: feelings, experiences, conversations. Try to write down at least one thing you’re grateful for.
Make the journal fun by using stickers, colored pens, stamps, etc. Unleash your inner child. It’s therapeutic—and you’ll enjoy rereading your journal in the future. The bullet journal craze is still a thing and has yet to exhaust itself out for a reason. It’s fun!
I have found that the actual journal itself can be stifling. I am a person who likes organization, order and I follow directions which means the structure of many journals can throw me off. I know. A structured person who doesn’t like structure when it comes to a journal. Just plain weird!
There are many awesome journals out there, here are a few of my favorites:
- The Silk + Sonder journals are beautiful.
- I am a lifelong fan (and big-time user) of Moleskine
- Erin Condren planners are WILDLY popular!
- I like the personalized interest notebooks from the “and so they made” shop on Etsy, but quite frankly there are thousands of beautiful journals on Etsy (support a small business)!
I recently discovered the concept of One Line a Day, but instead of buying the journal, I created my own with one of the many blank-yet-to-be-used notebooks I already had on my bookshelf. I started it on December 23rd, which may be a strange day to begin, I know, but (a) I think each day is just as good as the next (if you accept my “live for each day” philosophy) and (b) I wanted to capture thoughts of at least a few days of my 50th year as I am about to turn 51!
Anyway, much like the whole exercise thing, journal the way you want to, when you want to!
I will let go of resentment, regret, and jealousy.
This one is tough, particularly given 2020, but when we hate another person, we are only hurting ourselves. You don’t have to forgive or forget, but you can decide to let go—for your sake, not theirs. You have no control over what they did, but you can control how it affects you. And honestly, are they worth all the energy you are wasting on them?
Life is messy, but life is also too big, too beautiful, and too full of possibilities to stay stuck in resentment and jealousy, regret, and hatred. Move on to better things, because your happiness is the best revenge.
I will enjoy simple pleasures and small victories.
Sometimes we focus too much on what we don’t have, and what we didn’t do. But the secret to getting what you want is to practice Abundance Consciousness:
I am already blessed, and I continue to receive more each day.
For example, if you want to look for a better job, then think “I am thankful that I have the skills and the experience. I have gotten this far, and I trust that I will meet the right opportunities and mentors.” Consciously look for affirmations of this belief. Did you find a good website with information? Did a co-worker compliment you on a project?
Celebrate even small victories: finding an interesting job opening, or getting to the interview stage. You will attract more positive things, and exude confidence and positivity that gets fantastic results.
I am proof that this works. After an 18-month sabbatical, I jumped back into looking for a job. After a few months, I found a good job. It wasn't a great job, but I had faith that it was the job I needed at the moment to take me where I wanted to go next. It put my all into that job and did really good work. And I celebrated my victories. It took two years, but I got an amazing job based on my work there and I pinch myself every day that I landed at the company I did, do the job I do with a manager and a team that rocks!
Trust me, given last year, I think this 2021 resolution is an easy one to achieve! Once we can get out and about and move more freely, everything is going to feel like a victory!
I will spend 1 hour a day on myself.
This 2021 New Year’s resolution is for your mental state! Everyone is at home. Working from home. Virtual school, etc. We are all on top of each other 24/7! You need your Me Time, especially when you’re stressed! The busier you are, the more important it is to emotionally refuel so you have the energy to do what you need to do.
Give yourself at least 1 hour a day to recharge, focus on your needs, and renew your spirit. You have complete control over how you spend that hour: read a book, take a long bath, watch a show, play a game, try a new recipe.
Try not to spend that time on your phone. Going on social media puts your attention on other people, not yourself. Disconnect from the world and give yourself the attention you deserve!
I will spend time on my dream.
Complete this sentence: “If I have more time, I will…”
Now take a look at 2020. For nearly a year we have been frozen in place unable to do many of the things we dreamt of doing.
What were you waiting for?
We do not know how much time we have ahead of us. Again, that's why I think it is important to appreciate every day as it is. At the end of 2015, Mr. Misadventures and I hit the pause button on our corporate careers, our house, our overcrowded and underappreciated life. We quit our jobs, sold everything, and hit the road in an RV for 18 months before plopping back into life in 2017.
I do not have one single regret.
So many people wait until they retire, wait until the kids are out of the house, wait until x,y,z, but I am telling you, you may not have time to wait.
We do not have control over the amount of time we have on this planet, but we do have control over how we spend our time.
In 2021, your new year’s resolution should be to spend time on what really matters. Find ways to claim your time and spend it on making your dreams come true. For example, instead of surfing the Internet every night, maybe take an online class to learn a new skill, or improve one or learn a new language, there are so many options, especially now!
I will savor my food.
This has never really been a problem for me as I enjoy thinking about, talking about, and eating food, glorious food!
Instead of telling yourself you’ll go on a crash diet, take a more positive approach to eating. Decide to eat more consciously. Pick foods that are good for you. Eat more slowly, and savor the food: scent, texture, taste.
Diet coaches say that most bingeing occurs when we eat mindlessly—we eat a lot, but we don’t really stop to enjoy what we eat. You can eat less, but at the same time, commit to enjoying your food more.
Let me share one thing that I recently discovered for myself in the last few months. Since we moved into our new house in February (and shortly thereafter found ourselves confined) we have had restaurant takeout 3 times and takeout from a bakery twice. No restaurants in 9 months. Just eating our own home-cooked food with seasonal fruits and vegetables from the state farmer’s market supplemented with dairy and meats from large grocery stores.
We follow a low carb lifestyle. But from time to time we have carby treats. I am now super picky about those treats. If they aren’t earth-shatteringly good I now think, “why bother?” What is the point of having something for the sake of having it, if you stuff it in your mouth so fast you hardly taste it, or it just tastes average?
Eat less, but eat the good stuff!
For 2021, if you are getting takeout if at all possible, try to buy directly from the restaurant rather than using an app. The 3rd party delivery apps take a huge percentage of that order for fees and the restaurant doesn’t see a whole heck of a lot of that meal!
And once we can go out and enjoy restaurants again, support the good ones, the local ones. The ones run by local small business owners. The ones using local ingredients. Savor every single aspect of their food and what goes into the making of it!
How to Marie Kondo your 2021.
If there was a year in which we needed to spark joy in our lives, it was 2020. (Ditto for 2021.) It was a cruel trick to have only one season of Tidying Up, I needed this series in my life this year, and I do not think I was alone. A few new year’s resolutions that I think Marie would approve of:
I will organize my email inbox.
Anyone else has 10,000+ unread messages? Okay, I may not have that many, but I have a lot! Given the fact that we can’t have in-person meetings or go to conferences, we’ve all pivoted to Zoom, newsletters, and lots and lots of email!
Fix your email settings so your emails get sent to specific folders. Remove yourself from mailing lists that no longer interest you (I do a monthly purge), or change your notification settings so you don’t get frequent alerts.
And while Inbox Zero is a valid goal (a philosophy I follow for my work email but don’t always accomplish with my personal or blog email), don’t feel pressured to achieve it in one sitting. Just set a specific time (ex: 5 minutes a day) to delete or archive messages.
[When we can travel again, remember to Marie Kondo your travel as well!]
I will set up a Declutter Day.
Spring cleaning can be very overwhelming. Instead of trying to clean and declutter everything in one go, pick a Declutter Day for each month. Then, tackle one area of your house at a time. Ex: January – go through the closet for clothes that don’t fit or aren’t your style. February – remove old and unused books from bookshelves and donate, etc.
Then, reward yourself for your efforts by fixing up the space you decluttered. Once you clear your work area, decorate it in a way that suits your style and taste. After fixing your bathroom and dressing area, get pretty lights, and make it feel like a real “vanity area” rather than the place where you hide your messy clothes.
Decluttering can also be a source of extra income. You would be amazed at how much of your “stuff” you can sell online or in apps!
I will Unfriend/Unfollow the people who make me feel bad.
Purge your social media feeds of accounts or people who trigger you. Or, if it’s an old friend or relative, unfollow or hide their posts—they won’t know you’ve unfriended them, but at least you won’t expose yourself to unnecessary pressure each time you go online.
Do this in your non-social media life as well. You do not need negative people around you who constantly bring you down. Just because you have been friends with someone for years doesn’t mean that they need to stay your friend. If the relationship isn’t balanced, healthy, or working out for you, say goodbye and move on.
A New Year, and a New You
Did you notice something about these resolutions? All of them start from a change inside you. Every positive thing in your life starts from positive energy within. You are planting seeds that make changes you may not see right away but will take root and transform you from the inside out.
Small changes can transform your life. Plant a seed today. Make a 2021 plan of attack and let’s get past 2020!
How about you? Have you made your 2021 New Year's resolutions yet? Are you going to? If you have share one! Or just let me know if any of my resolution suggestions resonate with you!
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Setting financial goals as a family is what we are focusing on this year with another kiddo on the way. This includes family vacations when the world opens up again!
Happy new year to you and your family Andi <3
These are good approaches to making resolutions for the upcoming year. I am looking forward to making my list!
Making more healthy habits and save more money for the future are my main resolutions for 2021.
I’m not big fan of making resolutions. My therapist recommends setting intentions. It’s less pressure.
These are wonderful resolutions! I need to make some healthier choices when it comes to eating and exercise.
New Year and a New You, I would say A New Better You! Love your new goals!
I’m not making any resolutions; just plan to keep getting stronger!
Thank you so much for sharing these inspiring resolutions for 2021 🙂 I think the best thing we can do this year is just be kind to ourselves and take lots of self care
Letting go of resentments is some heavy stuff, but so necessary. Great list!
Declutter day is a brillant idea! I like all of these, maybe I will try to copy your list and go for it!
I typically don’t make New Year resolutions but I love all of your suggestions. Small meaningful changes can really have an impact!
Great post – I love your resolutions.
Lovely post. I liked the one on spending an hour on yourself each day. I think that would be something I want to do this year. Thanks for sharing!
Andi, this is a fabulous post. You nailed it! I agree with our approach and style. Thankfully I already engage in several of your recommendations, but there is always room for improvement and more engagement.
I started that declutter thing back in late November. Just an hour or 2 per week. It’s very freeing!
This is a great approach to resolutions this year. Over the past few years I’ve stopped making resolutions and instead set goals throughout the year whenever I want to. Resolutions are all too often broken. This is a great way to rethink them though!
These are all super mindful goals that I thin would lead anyone to a healthier/better version of themselves.
All of these are perfect – I really think it is powerful to point out what you said about unfollowing and unfriending people that make you feel bad. In a lot of the psychology books I am reading, they are saying the same thing. Mental health is so important. Happy New Year, Andi! 🙂