By Ariel Klein
Sure, you can pledge to eat more greens or log additional hours in the gym, but what about some personal growth goals you’re actually really excited to tackle?
Commit to yourself—your happiness and your health—in the new year with these easy life hacks that’ll have you eating, moving, and feeling better by February.
1. Set Intentions, Not Resolutions
Why start the New Year with rigid resolutions that will most likely result in stress and guilt? Creating intentions (and actively writing them down) is a much more realistic approach to setting goals for yourself. Draft up daily, weekly, and monthly intentions to help take the pressure off your daily schedule and allow you to focus on the big picture.
2. Practice Gratitude
Regularly expressing gratitude has been shown to shift your perspective for the better. Take stock of what’s going right in your life by expressing it out loud or by writing it down. To make the act of gratitude expression even easier, jot down your daily thoughts in a bedside journal.
3. Discover a New Hobby
A hectic work schedule and bustling social calendar can make it difficult to break out of your standard routine. While you overscheduled, it’s essential to carve out time for yourself to try new hobbies and identify new interests. Dying to make pasta from scratch? Test out an irresistible Cacio e Pepe recipe. Interested in trying Pilates? Ask a friend to go to a class with you. Commit to your interests, and even a small effort will feel like an accomplishment.
4. Pack Your Bags
Whether you’ve been wanting to travel to an exotic locale or depart on a brief weekend getaway, look for a way to get out of your routine and hit the road. Some of the best memories are made while traveling, and you’ll ultimately feel recharged, whether your vacation includes a journey to the local resort or somewhere exotic abroad.
5. Face Your Fears
We’ve all been advised to “do one thing every day that scares you,” but it’s a powerful sentiment that isn’t exactly realistic for someone with a full-time job, responsibilities, and a comfortable weeknight routine. If your fears include skydiving, feel free to do just that, but know that more bite-sized acts of bravery apply as well, like karaoke nights, meeting new people, or having new hairstyles.
6. Make Sense of Your Space
Cleaning up your physical space does wonders for your head space. If the idea of a thorough deep clean sends you into a clutter-induced panic, break each organizing task down into 20-minute increments (or less, to start!). Simply set a timer on your phone, plug into your favorite podcast, and start organizing. Do this a couple of times over the course of a few days, and you’ll create a tidy space even Marie Kondo would approve of.
7. Develop a New Routine
If you're feeling out of sorts, kick off the New Year with a refreshed daily routine. Anything from a daily morning walk to a nightly phone call or FaceTime with a loved one as the perfect excuse to decompress after a busy day.
8. Break a Sweat
There's no ideal time to break a sweat, but staying active for about 30 minutes per day is enough to move you toward your 2024 fitness goals—and set you up for a longer, higher-quality life. Not all exercise has to be strenuous either—consider morning stretches, restorative yoga, or a brisk walk during your lunch break. Already have a fitness routine? Consider mixing things up a tiny bit: Try a new type of workout class to keep things interesting (and challenge your brain and body); progress to the next level of whatever workout you’re doing; or incorporate some weight training to build strength and stamina.
9. Volunteer Your Time
Our time is limited and the most precious. So, giving back to your community or a cause you're passionate about can make a lasting impact. Research where and when you can volunteer on a local level, whether it means collecting canned food or clothing donations.
10. Put Away Your Phone
Between the onslaught of texts, emails, and news and Instagram notifications we receive hourly, our smartphones are now a permanent fixture in our everyday life. In an effort to be more present, spend less time on your phone with these simple tips that’ll help you drastically cut down on your daily screen time. Put away your phone when talking to someone as a sign of respect and focus.
11. Be Kind to Yourself
Daily life can get hectic, which is exactly why intentional self-care is crucial. Make time for a miniature reward with either a weekly manicure, morning meditation, or a new purchase that genuinely brings you joy. Whether you gift yourself with a new book or a few minutes of solitude, prioritizing time to do things for yourself will make you happy and keep you sane.
12. Accentuate the Positive
You don’t have to get all Pollyanna, but look for ways to help others feel good (which can also improve your mood, too). Whether you commit to random acts of kindness, opt to spread compliments instead of gossip, or seek out and share happy stories, you’ll be doing your part to make the world a tiny bit better.