17 Great New Year’s Resolutions Ideas To Get You Motivated

As we hang up a new calendar every year, we look to the New Year as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Setting New Year’s Resolutions is an annual tradition for many of us. 

However, many people fall into the trap of setting the same common New Year’s Resolutions year after year: lose weight, start working out, read more, try meditating, etc. 

The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they are either not defined and specific enough (using the SMART goals framework— specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) or the common New Year’s Resolutions do not spark enough drive within you to want to maintain the resolution.

Studies show that most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned relatively quickly at the start of the new year. But what if you could set exciting New Year’s resolutions or at least one that felt doable and specific? 

Perhaps this year, you can choose a great New Year’s resolution that you feel compelled to stick with. One that becomes an integral part of your life in the sense that by this time next year, when it becomes time to set your next New Year’s resolution, you have not only not abandoned the one you’ll set for this year, but you can’t imagine life without it.

In this guide, we present a bunch of New Year’s resolution ideas, from common New Year’s resolutions to more niche and exciting alternatives.

New year's resolutions written in a notebook.

Ready to have your best year yet? Keep reading for our list of New Year’s resolutions, and get ready to set a goal that you will achieve.

#1: Throw Out the Scale 

Admittedly, it’s probably quite surprising to see a list of New Year’s resolutions that recommend throwing away your scale since one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. 

However, constantly weighing yourself is not necessarily the healthiest or most effective way to track improvements in your body composition and health. Many people focus excessively on the number on the scale rather than on the changes in how their body looks and feels. 

Although your body weight can certainly be an indication of your health and can be a useful metric to track progress, putting too much emphasis on body weight can be detrimental to your mindset and advance.

Depending on how you are going about losing weight, for example, if you are working out while simultaneously trying to make dietary adjustments, you may see a little movement in the numbers on the scale. 

People in a gym class with kettlebells.

As you build muscle, your overall body weight might not change appreciably. However, your body composition, in terms of your body fat percentage versus your lean body mass, may change a lot. 

A regular body weight scale will not pick up on these improvements. A better way to track these types of changes is to take body circumference measurements.

However, although this is a viable alternative for people who want to go that route, you can also set a New Year’s resolution to worry less about how your body looks and how much you weigh and more about how your body feels

Are your workouts and diet helping you feel more energized, stronger, fitter, and more confident? These types of improvements can be more valuable than obsessing over losing weight.

#2: Try a New Sport

If you’ve been keen on taking up a new sport, such as tennis or pickleball, trying your first triathlon, or giving Nordic walking a go, make a New Year’s resolution to step outside of your normal fitness routine and try a new type of exercise.

Pickleball balls, rackets and net.

#3: Take Up an Instrument 

Plenty of people dabbled with various musical instruments in their youth, but most of us fall away from playing an instrument as we get older.

However, music not only can bring joy but learning a new instrument can be beneficial for your brain health.

You can look for secondhand instruments online or start with something inexpensive such as a recorder, harmonica, or basic guitar.

#4: Keep a Gratitude Journal 

The simple act of making note of things you are grateful for can have a powerful effect on your mindset. Start writing down at least three things you are grateful for every day.

They don’t have to be big, just commit to doing it every day and see how your whole outlook shifts.

A pen and journal that says "today I am grateful for."

#5: Drink More Water

We all know drinking more water is important. A common New Year’s resolution is to drink more water, but people often fail if they do not set more specific parameters. 

Perhaps you want to drink half your body weight in pounds in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you will need to drink 80 ounces of water per day.

Make your resolution to drink more water more fun by investing in a reusable water bottle or smart water bottle that tells you exactly how much water you have consumed, and the bottle will remind you to drink at regular intervals.

#6: Take the Stairs

Sure, it’s simple, but committing to only taking the stairs is an actionable New Year’s resolution that can improve your health.

#7: Call a Friend

Rather than texting, take the time to call one friend once a week.

A person taking the stairs.

#8: Stop Gossiping

Rather than jumping on the bandwagon when people start gossiping about others, commit to spreading positivity and support for everyone around you. 

We are all going through different struggles, and lifting one another up will help you feel better about yourself as well.

#9: Say Thank You

A simple New Year’s resolution is to express more gratitude.

Every time you check out at a store, receive a package from your delivery driver, or get a little bit of assistance at work with something, make sure to look a person in the eyes and say “thank you.“ 

These two simple words can go a long way toward making the other person feel appreciated.

#10: Give Someone a Compliment 

Much like expressing gratitude, giving one person a compliment every single day of the year is another great New Year’s resolution idea. Again, it’s all about spreading positivity.

A person holding the words thank you.

#11: Read More

A common goal found on many New Year’s resolutions is to read more, but this is often too nebulous. Be specific. Perhaps set a goal to read one book per month. 

Or, join a book club and read the book of the month and participate in discussions about it. If you are really busy, you can also consider audiobooks.

#12: Learn a New Skill

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to do some basic woodworking, fix a leaky faucet, or sew a patch on ripped clothes. Set a New Year’s resolution to learn a new skill that has interested you or would have value in your life. 

You can usually find free video tutorials on YouTube or consider taking lessons, depending on the complexity of the skill and your financial means.

#13: Create a Budget and Stick to It

Many people spend their money on an ad hoc basis, not really paying attention to how much money is getting funneled into different spending categories every month.

Sitting down and creating a budget and then sticking to it, including setting aside a portion of your income for monthly savings, can revolutionize your financial situation after 365 days.

A person carrying wood in a shop.

#14: Invest

Even if you do not have a lot of money, you can make a commitment to invest a little bit every month into some sort of savings plan or financial growth opportunity.

#15: Go Phone Free

A good New Year’s resolution idea is to spend less time on your phone or other types of screens. 

Rather than checking your phone first thing in the morning, set a resolution to give yourself an hour of other activities before you log into your email and other social media apps. This also can apply to your evening screen time, shutting off your phone an hour before bed to give your body time to wind down.

#16: Meditate 5 Minutes a Day

Meditation is found on almost every New Year’s resolution list because we all know that it can be a powerful tool to improve your mindset. However, most of us do not make time for meditation or quickly lose interest. 

Even just a couple of minutes of meditation per day is a great goal. Consider using a meditation app such as Headspace or Calm for guided meditations.

A person meditating at home.

#17: Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day

You can certainly adjust the step count, but making a New Year’s resolution to walk more is a fantastic way to improve your health. 

Getting a fitness tracker to keep track of your daily step count can be a motivating and concrete way to quantify your walking.

Consider starting with a 30-day walking challenge for beginners if you have not been consistently exercising, and then gradually increase the amount of walking you do every day.

How will you make this the best year yet? Your New Year’s Resolutions don’t need to be big; just choose something you can stick to.

If you are interested in a fitness challenge for your New Year’s Resolution, check out our long list of 30-Day Fitness Challenges here.

A close-up of the tennis shoes of someone walking.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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