A new year is a time for new beginnings.
Whether you love or hate, keep or break new year’s resolutions, there's no doubt that it's a wonderful, built-in opportunity for self-reflection and thinking about where you want your life to go in the year ahead.
The practice of setting new year’s resolutions was actually started by the ancient Babylonians some 4,000 years ago — of course, goals back then probably looked a lot different than they do now.
To inspire you to make 2020 your best year yet, here's our guide to setting resolutions you'll actually want to keep as well as 20 ideas for resolutions.
You might also want to check out our four-part yearly planning series to dive even deeper into planning for the new year:
- Part 1: Looking Back at 2019
- Part 2: Reflecting on Relationships
- Part 3: Building Your Yearly Theme
- Part 4: Your 2020 Goals
Start by reflecting
Unless you're honest about where you've been, it can be difficult to make changes and plot a new course forward.
Take some time to really think about the past year. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What went well in 2019?
- What goals did you achieve?
- What didn't go so well?
- What would you like to change or leave behind?
- What were you most proud of?
- Was there anything you wanted to do but didn't?
You may see some natural patterns that can help you identify what your new year's resolution should be to make sure you’re not repeating 2019 behaviors.
Think about the big picture
We are big advocates of working backward. Start by asking yourself: What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? What about in 10 years?
Now we'll work backward from there. What steps do you need to take *this year* so that you're where you want to be in 2025 or 2030? Goals are achieved with thoughtful planning and continuous forward progress, so let this be the year that you start taking meaningful steps toward your biggest goals!
Make specific goals
In order to set yourself up for success to achieve your goals, they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (or SMART).
Goals like “be healthier” aren’t easy to stick with because they’re not specific enough. Instead, when you’re writing your goal statement or your new year’s resolution, you should be specific about what, how, why, and when you’re going to do or achieve something. So instead of “be healthier,” try something like “cook five meals a week at home and go to yoga twice a week.”
Already you’re helping yourself be more successful by setting clear parameters around what success looks like.
For more on writing SMART goal statements, check out our free worksheet here!
Hold yourself accountable
Once you’ve decided on your resolution, write it down in a place you’ll see often like the first page of your planner, a notepad on your desk, or a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. Then it’s time to make an action plan: What are you going to do each month, week, or day of 2020 to make sure you’re actually making progress toward your goal?
It’s also important to set up regular times to check in on your progress. The Ink+Volt Planner encourages you to do so at the beginning of each month, and then again at the beginning of each week. These allow you to check the pulse on your progress and make any adjustments necessary to stay on track going forward.
Get some inspiration
Here are 20 ideas for new year’s resolutions to inspire you. feel free to use these or adapt them to better fit your life and goals:
- Stay hydrated: Health authorities recommend drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. Try using a tool to help you keep track like the Ink+Volt Book Band and Hydration Tracker or the Hidrate Spark water bottle, which lights up to remind you to take a drink.
- Take a lunch break: When was the last time you truly took a break for lunch? This year, commit to blocking off time on your calendar to stop working for a short period of time during the day. Step away from your desk and sit somewhere new, or go for a short walk and commit to not checking your email. Take this time to mentally recharge and set yourself up for success for the rest of the day.
- Begin a gratitude practice: Practicing gratitude is one of the only scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness. This year, commit to sitting down once a day and writing down the people, places, things, experiences, and opportunities you’re grateful for. (Get started with the Ink+Volt Gratitude Journal!)
- Clear out the clutter: Tidy up in the new year. Clean out your miscellaneous drawers, and donate any clothes or books you no longer need. As cleanliness expert Marie Kondo advises, only keep things that truly spark joy for you.
- Start a business: You know that idea that’s been percolating in your head for a while? This is your year to go for it. Whether it’s a side hustle or your full-on job, make your business plan, print your business cards and get to work. (We’d also recommend the Hatch Notebook, which features a step-by-step guide to hatch your big ideas and turn them into actions.)
- Start or grow a creative pursuit: Creative activities improve productivity and reduce stress. And it’s *so* important to flex the right side of your brain, which helps process things like color, shapes, music, and art. Whether it’s coloring, hand-lettering, writing, or painting, make time to tap into your creativity this year.
- Learn a new language: Your high school language classes may be far behind you, but it’s never too late to try to pick up a new language! Try looking for local language classes (bookstores often host them) or downloading an app like Duolingo.
- Travel: There’s something so refreshing about seeing another part of the world. And you don’t have to fly for hours to experience that. Pick a place you’ve never been before and start planning! Start a savings plan if you need, build an itinerary, and get ready to fill 2020 with new experiences.
- Begin meditating: Meditation can help calm your mind by lessening all the distracting thoughts we have every day, which can help increase your focus and ease feelings of anxiety and depression. To begin, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe in — the breath traveling in your nose, down your throat, into your chest and belly — and then notice how it feels to breathe out. Do this for five minutes at first and then slowly work your way up to longer times.
- Read a book a month: Choose a book instead of your phone. Reading more can help you relax and can teach you so many things. If you’re already an avid reader, try something outside your comfort zone this year, like picking up more nonfiction if you’re always reading fiction, or trying a new author.
- Do less multi-tasking: Make 2020 the year that you’re more present, focused, and therefore more efficient. If you’re working on a project, only work on that project — no checking your email or phone. If you’re watching a movie with your partner, don’t also use it as a time to check things off your to-do list. An easy way to start is while you’re brushing your teeth. Try to focus *just* on the act of brushing your teeth. Don’t run through your to-do list in your head, just be present in the moment.
- Learn something new: Whether it’s trying a new recipe, learning to tango, or picking up a paintbrush for the first time, a new year is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, make a plan and go for it!
- Get a promotion or raise: This is one that is slightly out of your control, but you *can* do a lot to set yourself up for success. Think about what actions would make the biggest impact to your leadership. Maybe it’s showing up on time (or early) to all your meetings. Or beginning to send a weekly status email (this is one of our favorite life hacks!). Or volunteering to steer an important project. Whatever it is, this is your year, and you’ve got this.
- Start meal prepping: Not only can meal prepping help you eat healthier in 2020, but it can also help you save money. Get our guide to starting meal prep here!
- Begin an exercise routine: Make 2020 a healthier year. Whether you’re training for a marathon or starting a yoga practice for the first time, set yourself up for success this year by creating a schedule that you can actually stick to, tracking your progress, and holding yourself accountable.
- Focus on your relationships: Take some time to think about the people who are most important in your life. What can you do this year to show them how much they mean to you? Maybe it’s setting up a regular time to talk with your siblings or sending snail mail to your friends.
- Volunteer: Find a new way to get involved in your community and give back this year. Not only will you be making a difference in people’s lives, but you’ll also feel better and happier — a win-win.
- Reduce your waste: Try reusable shopping bags at the grocery store, metal or glass straws, and multi-use water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles. Even little steps help in reducing your environmental impact!
- Take the stairs: Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, opt for the stairs when possible. Your heart will thank you.
- Spend less time on your phone: How much time are you wasting on your phone each day? In the new year, make a conscious effort to not be on your phone when you’re with others, right before bed, or when you should be focusing on other tasks.