Since we’re at the beginning of a new era, now is the time to embrace optimism and expand on your New Year’s resolutions, whether it’s volunteering more, working on certain relationships or taking on a new hobby. Reflect on how you can improve this decade with our collection of ideas.
New Year’s Day always feels like a chance to hit “refresh.” It’s a holiday that evokes a sense of unifying optimism, as people everywhere share their highs of the previous year and offer resolutions of how they want to improve during the year ahead. As we navigate the beginning of a new decade, this year feels even more boundless with opportunities to achieve personal goals.
Maybe you’ve already firmly decided on a New Year’s resolution (or maybe you’ve already caved on your pipe-dream exercise goals), but we’re still at the beginning of this optimistic new era. It’s a perfect time to expand on your resolutions, or set new ones.
Here are some ideas to keep you moving forward.
The most cliché resolution is wanting to lose weight, or wanting to go to the gym more often, but just because it’s cliché doesn’t mean it’s invalid. If you don’t have your health, you end up dealing with real problems.
Everyone has something they can do to have a healthier lifestyle. What’s one way you can improve?
Again, it’s a cliche, but it’s valid. Our region is full of fitness centers – Peak Fitness, Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Maximum Performance Fitness Training, the YMCA and more. Signing up for a membership might be your best path forward to living a healthier life. Ask a friend to be your accountability buddy. Maybe they can go to the gym with you three times a week, or at least check in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to make sure you’re following through.
Play a Sport
Just because you’re an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t play soccer, basketball or softball anymore. There are a slew of adult leagues through the Rockford Park District, or, you can sign up for dodgeball, pickleball or volleyball at the UW Health Sports Factory. Make it your resolution to join a team.
Take Dance or Pilates
Sometimes, exercise is more fun when you’re in a class. And if you’re someone who has a resolution to “try new things,” this can be a great way to break out of your comfort zone while doing something health-centered. Try low-impact, full-body workouts at Club Pilates, or sign up for ballet, modern, jazz or tap at Rockford Dance Company (RDC). (Full disclosure – I teach adult jazz and technique/conditioning at RDC. Come join me!)
Change Up Your Diet
Instead of ambushing yourself by slashing your calorie intake in half, try to make a conscious effort to focus on something specific. Maybe it’s eating veggies every day, cutting out a certain vice, buying a water bottle to bring with you everywhere, or deciding to only drink alcohol on the weekends.
If you can’t quit cold turkey, can you at least make it a resolution to cut back? 2020 is your year.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
What’s something in your life that consistently makes you anxious, and how can you navigate it better? Maybe you need to create rules about not saying “yes” to every social invitation. Maybe you can delegate certain tasks around the house or at work to gain more peace of mind. Just like your physical health, find an accountability buddy for your mental health – someone who will check in with you regularly. Maybe this is the year you finally go to therapy, or at least use up all of your personal days.
It’s all about the three t’s: time, talent and treasure. What’s a resolution you can make this year to help the community?
There are so many organizations in town that need volunteers. The Rockford Rescue Mission needs people who can serve meals, provide tutoring services, or mentor men and women recovering from addiction. The United Way needs people who can help children learn how to read. If there’s a particular cause you’re passionate about, ask your network of friends and colleagues if they know of any volunteer opportunities. The Ignite Young Professionals group through the Rockford Chamber of Commerce has been a particularly helpful resource for me.
If you’re looking for one-off opportunities, many organizations in town have annual 5K run/walks and need volunteers to help out, such as Gigi’s Playhouse, a Down syndrome achievement center, and the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation, which enriches the lives of young adults living with cancer. You can start reaching out to organizations now to inquire about future volunteer needs. Pick an organization, and pour yourself into it the most that you’re capable of.
Give a Regular Monetary Donation
Most nonprofits dream of having a larger budget and a larger staff. As great as it is to volunteer your time, sometimes writing a check is the best way to make a difference, especially if your schedule is jam-packed with other obligations. What’s a cause that you support fully in your heart? Pledging a monthly, quarterly or annual donation can be a great way to help out.
If heroes are people who save lives, then here’s your chance to be a hero. Donating blood is an amazing way to help strangers, and the need for donors is always constant. Make it a goal to donate blood regularly through the American Red Cross, Rock River Valley Blood Center, or other recognized donor center. If you want to up the ante, consider signing up for Be The Match at BeTheMatch.org to potentially donate bone barrow to someone in need of a transplant.
Join a Board of Directors
Don’t just join a board for the prestige of having it on your resume. Join because you care about the cause and you want to make real change happen. Many nonprofits need “fresh blood,” or people who can find new, creative ways to continue on with the organization’s work. It doesn’t hurt to send an email to see if your talents could be useful.
Know When It’s Time to Step Aside
It’s slightly counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to help out is to actually stop helping. Can someone else put more time and energy into leading the Girl Scouts Troop than you? Maybe this year, a good resolution is to strategically withdraw from certain commitments.
Think about the most important people in your life. How can you strengthen those relationships?
Designate Date Nights
What works for you and your partner – once a week? Once a month? Regular date nights are a great way to be more intentional about spending quality time together. You can couple this with trying a new (or new to you) locally owned restaurant every month, or taking advantage of special $5 ticket prices at the movies on Tuesdays.
For a fun way to invest in your friendships, send a postcard or letter to one person each week describing how that relationship positively impacts your life. Who doesn’t love surprise snail mail from a loved one? Or, consider becoming pen pals with someone who could use the regular correspondence as a deterrent from loneliness. If applicable, this could even be your own parents or grandparents.
Treat Your Friends
Gifts, when given freely and genuinely, can be a great way to express affection. Take a different friend out to coffee once a month, or make a list of people who you want to send an Edible Arrangement fruit bouquet throughout the year. If you’re crafty and possess the skills to make something decorative, consider giving homemade gifts.
Plan Family Dinners
Life can be crazy with commitments, but really, what priority comes before family? Set a goal to ignore your phone and sit down at least once a week with your partner, children, parents, or “chosen family” of friends. You can couple this with a resolution to try new recipes, or even just learn how to cook.
Take Lunch Breaks
It can be challenging to find pockets of time to invest in your friends or co-workers, so, make it your resolution to plan lunchtime get-togethers with people who you want to get to know better or see more regularly. Whether it’s weekly, bi-monthly, or even less frequent, the time together allows you to facilitate and maintain stronger bonds.
If you’re someone who has a hard time with self-expression, this could be a life-changing resolution. Make an effort to say something genuine to three people a day, whether it’s a loved one or a stranger, or, focus on being more verbally affectionate with your spouse/partner by embedding compliments into your routine.
Ask your friends and family about their best New Year’s resolutions and you’re bound to hear some creative responses. Here are some of my favorites:
-Learn how to change a tire on your own. (And make sure the equipment is in your car).
-Master how to prepare a family recipe.
-Plant a tree in your backyard.
-Write in a journal once a week.
-Donate quality clothing to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
-Read 25+ books throughout the year.
-Don’t use your phone after 9 p.m.
-For the sake of the environment, eat vegetarian or vegan for a month to lesson your ecological footprint.
-Take a class just for fun at a community college.
-Pursue an ambitious new hobby, like camping or finally decluttering your home.
-Set up, or increase, an automatic payment into your savings account and/or retirement account.
-Travel to a new state or country.
-Block out one weekend a month to have at home.
-Revamp your resume and social media accounts.
-Study a new language on the Duolingo app.
-Redecorate your home with family photos.
My favorite way to plan resolutions to pick one thing to focus on each month throughout the year. Sometimes, I’ll pick something that requires less effort. (For example, in 2019, my September resolution was simply to “get married” since that was a big event and milestone going on that month). Some months require more effort, like my February 2019 resolution to actually pay for a news subscription and read it every morning.
I find that writing down your resolutions and putting them in a visible place is a great way to set yourself up for success.
However you approach resolutions, I wish you the best of luck in achieving your goals for this new year and new decade.