This year, like every year, seems to have begun with a worldwide debate on new year’s resolutions.
Is setting one a good or bad idea?
Is it really possible to stick to a resolution for a whole 12 months?
Are resolutions in general just a waste of time?
Personally I’m a big fan of new year’s resolutions and any excuse for self-improvement. It feels like the whole concept of setting a resolution has developed a bad rep due to its frequent association with weight loss goals and restrictive eating habits, but we shouldn’t let diet culture hijack a tradition that actually has a lot of potential to make you feel good and encourage you to grow as a person.
That’s not to say that trying to lose weight is inherently bad but more that maybe we’ve all become too fixated on achieving #bodygoals as quickly as possible in the aftermath of Christmas weight gain. There’s more to life than being skinny and so many more important things you could be thinking about and working towards this year that don’t involve obsessively counting calories.
So why not join me in giving diet culture a collective middle finger and choose to invest your time and energy elsewhere with a resolution for 2022 that focuses on enrichment rather than restriction?
This blog contains 20 different ideas for new year’s resolutions that don’t have the sole purpose of making you smaller.
Top tip: A good way to make your resolution more achievable is to make it SMART — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Put simply, make sure your resolution has an end goal, so that you know for definite when you’ve achieved it.
After almost two years of lockdowns, viruses and staying at home, 2022 is all about making up for lost time. Budget allowing, you could interrail across Europe or plan a road trip in your country of choice to see as many places as possible in one trip (just remember to check travel restrictions, cancellation policies and COVID rules before you book!)
If holidaying abroad feels too risky, make 2022 the year of the staycation! Find a quirky retreat in the countryside or explore the British seaside or pledge to visit a set number of new cities in the UK.
Start a new hobby
Use your new year’s resolution as an opportunity to try something completely new. Whether you’re sporty or creative, intellectual or adventurous, there’s a long list of hobbies to explore. Pole dancing, scrapbooking, baking, ice skating, painting, gardening… On a personal note, I’ve decided to have a go at rock climbing with my boyfriend and also to start researching my family tree.
Make new friends
I think we can all agree that making friends in adulthood is hard. Gone are the days of parents setting up play dates for you and befriending whoever the teacher sat you next to in Maths class — once you hit 18, it’s all down to you and your social skills. Luckily local social groups are a thing now and websites like Meetup are making it easier than ever before to meet new people. BFF mode on Bumble is also a fantastic way to find friends with similar interests.
Say ‘yes’ more
This resolution may seem a little vague but the idea behind it is to seize the opportunities that come your way and could offer a good learning experience for anyone prone to over thinking, worrying and indecisiveness. Don’t let self-doubt or an endless backing track of ’what if’s hold you back. Next time someone asks you to do something outside of your comfort zone, just say yes and see what happens. Commit yourself to saying yes in 2022 and see where a year of risk-taking and action takes you.
Find a new job
Does your job make you happy? If the answer is anything other than yes, perhaps it’s time to look for something new. Maybe you’ve wanted to take a step up the career ladder for a while or maybe you’ve realised that your current line of work just isn’t right for you but you haven’t had the courage to make that career change. Now’s your chance! Give yourself 12 months to find your dream job and make it happen.
Take more photos
Your family and friends may moan if you pick this resolution but, as someone who is usually behind the lens (or more accurately the iPhone camera), I can tell you that even the most camera shy tend to look back on old photos and treasure them. Alternatively, you could point your camera in a different direction and capture the beauty in your surroundings, from sunsets and city lights to wildlife at a local nature spot. Set yourself the challenge of taking a photo each day and you could create a montage to commemorate 2022 at the end of the year.
Heal from past trauma
Fun fact about me: counselling changed my life. Specifically, long-term psychotherapy. I’m confident that I would be a very different person to who I am today if I hadn’t dedicated that time to working through a variety of issues with a mental health specialist. Paying for counselling wasn’t cheap but it was worth every penny. If you can’t afford to go private, there’s several counselling options available for free through the NHS and you can refer yourself without needing to speak to a GP first.
Start a diary or gratitude journal
If you enjoy writing, why not start a diary? Jotting down your thoughts and feelings at the end of each day can be very cathartic, and even just a few minutes spent on reflection and gratitude could help you to maintain a positive mindset. It’s also a great way to document your life, so that come December you’ll have a written record of every high and low in 2022 to look back on.
Exercise related goals are as common as weight loss ones when it comes to new year’s resolutions, but this tunnel-vision focus on physical health (which is often more about ‘improving’ how we look than our actual health) means mental wellbeing is largely ignored. Mindfulness and other forms of meditation have a number of benefits and regular practice can be very effective at reducing stress and anxiety, as you learn how to gain more control over your thoughts.
Read more books
Without a doubt, reading more books is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions. The best way to stay on track with this resolution is to set yourself a milestone number that’s actually achievable — if you can count the number of books you read cover to cover last year on one hand (guilty), aiming to read 100 books this year probably isn’t a realistic goal. My goal is 24, which works out at a respectable two books a month.
Say ‘no’ more
This resolution is for the people pleasers out there who struggle to say no to anything and everything. By forcing yourself to say no more often to everyone from work colleagues to friends and family, you’ll learn to set healthy boundaries in your relationships and prioritise your own needs. It will feel uncomfortable as hell at first and maybe even selfish, but it will get easier with every no you say.
Experiment with fashion
If you’ve ever thought “I wish I had the confidence to wear that”, now’s the time to fake it ‘til you make it and start dressing differently. The good news is we live in an age where recycled fashion is trendy, so you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds transforming your wardrobe. Just download Depop or head to the nearest charity shop to grab yourself some bargains and discover a new sense of style without breaking the bank.
Spend more time with family and friends
More quality time with loved ones is a common choice of resolution, but it’s a little too vague for my liking. You’ll get the most value out of this resolution if you make it SMART— for example, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable to more specific goals like “I’ll make plans with my best friend every week” or ”I’ll go to dinner at my parents’ house at least once a month”.
Learn a new language
Forgotten every single word of Spanish immediately after sitting your GCSE exam? Honestly, same. But being able to speak a second language can make going on holiday abroad easier and more fun, as well as open up exciting career opportunities around the world. Language learning is also a great way to exercise your brain and challenge yourself with something new.
Wake up and go to bed earlier
Sleep is just as important for our health as exercise and healthy eating. If Netflix has got you staying up ‘til the early hours of the morning bingeing Ru Paul’s Drag Race, chances are you aren’t getting enough sleep. Just like babies and children, adults also benefit from the routine of a regular bedtime and wake-up call, and getting enough sleep has been linked to increased productivity and better mood as well as the obvious benefit of more energy.
Reduce screen time
OK so I know I said 2022 was going to be about enrichment not restriction, but hear me out because less time spent on your phone is one restriction that will help you grow. I’ve personally noticed a direct link between periods of increased phone use and peaks in my anxiety, which makes a lot of sense really because hours spent scrolling aimlessly through filtered photos and carefully curated glimpses into other people’s lives isn’t actually good for you (who’d have thought?!) Less time on your phone means more time for things that actually make you happy.
If you want to give this resolution a try but struggle to put your phone down, I recommend downloading the Forest productivity app. It’s free and rewards time away from your phone by allowing you to plant real trees around the world. I use it daily and love it!
Be kinder to yourself
Someone far cleverer than myself once said ’we are our own worst critics’ and it’s true that most of us judge ourselves more harshly than we ever would our friends, so this year why not focus on fixing your inner narrative? Challenge yourself to catch any negative thoughts about your appearance or your self-worth as they occur and work on being more forgiving towards yourself when you make mistakes.
Learn an instrument
Who didn’t fantasise about starting their own band as a teenager? It’s never too late to start your musical journey. Whether you’ve always wanted to play the guitar or you recently started thinking about how cool it would be to learn the saxophone, get booking some lessons this month and who knows where you’ll find yourself in December, 12 months of music making later!
Track your budget
While managing your money certainly isn’t the most exciting suggestion on this list of new year’s resolutions, tracking your financial income and outgoings can lead to more effective saving which in turn could lead to some pretty exciting albeit well-planned future spending. Think exotic holidays or that new kitchen you’ve always wanted but never felt you could afford. After a lifetime of poor money management, two years of monthly budgeting has helped me feel more in control of my spending. I use the Notes app on my phone, but you could use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets if you fancy creating something more professional looking.
Volunteer in your local community
Donating to charity isn’t the only way to help others or to give back to society. There’s so many different ways to volunteer and the opportunities available to you depend on the causes you’re most passionate about. You could provide an elderly person with valuable company, cook and serve at a food bank or support a pet shelter. Check out the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service website for more info on current local opportunities.
So, what do you think? Have I sold you on the benefits of new year’s resolutions or are you still unconvinced? The important thing to remember if you do set yourself a resolution is not to beat yourself up if you aren’t doing as well as you’d hoped. View your resolution as a fun way to grow and any improvement will be better than none.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!