By Theo Winter
Honestly, I think it’s fair to question the value of writing anything on this subject, but perhaps, like me, this is the first year you find yourself really thinking about and reflecting on New Year’s Resolutions. Am I an idiot for setting (or not setting) one? Does it really matter? What goals are most common?
So I did a little searching and asking and, well... there are a lot of strong opinions.
For some, resolutions represent brain-dead group think, goal-setting at its worst, and a great way to set up the new year for early failure. For others, they’re always a good idea, an opportunity to build self-awareness, the perfect time to make a change, and the marking of a fresh clean slate.
Love or loathe the popular annual tradition, one thing that is abundantly clear is the consistently high rate of failure.
According to commonly-cited online statistics (always a dependable source), of the approximately 40% of Americans who set a resolution, about 80% fail before the end of February. Only about 10% actually follow through and achieve their stated aim.
From what I can gather, the consensus as to why resolutions fail essentially boils down to 1) picking too many goals and 2) having goals that are too vague.
Popular resolutions include Losing Weight, Better Diet, New or Improved Relationships, Quitting Smoking, Drinking Less, Saving Money, Getting More Sleep, Helping Others, and Enjoying Life More.
The good news is that, for the average internet dweller who thinks they have next to no will power, you actually have stacks of amazing resources at the ready to beat the odds, including this clear and concise walkthrough from Psychology Today and this handy checklist from Britain’s National Health Service.
That said, it’s probably also wise to treat the area of goal-setting psychology broadly with an ounce or two of caution. For example, there’s evidence to suggest telling people about your goal will make you more likely to succeed, but then there’s people who say sharing your goal is a really bad idea. Social science… it’s not always exact.
Below are 100 ideas purely for inspiration — mostly common or popular resolutions but also a few unusual ones — just to get the creative juices flowing or perhaps spark something that you hadn’t considered, while keeping in mind that it’s not generally recommended to state your goal too broadly (i.e. almost every idea I’ve selected below). For example, a better version of “Lose Weight” would be something like "Lose 10 kg in 3 months” but of course the specifics in that instance will depend on your unique physical and psychological profile. Again, the web is filled with lots of useful step-by-step guides such as the two linked previously and it might also be worth incorporating a goal-setting framework such as the widespread and relatively flexible SMART Goal Setting Model.
1. Lose weight 2. Build muscle 3. Quit smoking 4. Reduce alcohol 5. Reduce sugar 6. Reduce caffeine 7. Detox or cleanse 8. Eat healthier 9. Try a new diet 10. Try fasting 11. Get a new job 12. Ask for a promotion 13. Freelance 14. Start an online business 15. Get out of debt 16. Save 10% (or more) of your income 17. Get organised 18. Spend more time with family 19. Reduce stress 20. Enjoy life to the fullest 21. Stop procrastinating 22. Travel 23. Meditate more often 24. Have better sleep 25. Take up a hobby 26. Learn a new skill 27. Improve cooking / cook more at home 28. Learn a new language 29. Go vegan for 1 week 30. Spend less time on facebook / social media 31. Less time on smartphone 32. Quit looking at phone while in conversation 33. Spend less time watching TV 34. Hire a coach or therapist 35. Redecorate the house 36. Do something for charity 37. Volunteer for a worthy cause 38. Start a community project 39. Join a local community group 40. Join toastmasters 41. Join a gym 42. Create a home gym 43. Get a personal trainer or take a group fitness class 44. Run a half or full marathon 45. Try an extreme sport 46. Floss every day 47. Volunteer 48. Find a pen pal 49. Improve a relationship 50. Try internet dating 51. Better sex 52. More romantic 53. Better dancer 54. Read more 55. Have a baby 56. Focus more on appearance 57. Focus less on appearance 58. Improve concentration and mental skills 59. Be more confident / take more chances 60. Face your fears and insecurities 61. Learn to be happier with what you have 62. Be more grateful 63. Adopt a pet 64. See your doctor more often 65. Learn more about art, music, culture, etc 66. Learn to paint, draw, or sculpt 67. Learn how to defend yourself 68. Be more social 69. Start journaling 70. Stop trying to please everyone 71. Less time thinking about the past / future 72. Being kinder to self / stop putting yourself down 73. Less negative thinking 74. Reduce overthinking 75. Curb perfectionism 76. Become a morning person 77. Better work/life balance 78. Start a blog 79. Beautify your workspace 80. Clean your computer / desktop 81. Clean out / update your wardrobe 82. Take an online course 83. Mentor someone 84. Do nothing more often 85. Create a budget 86. Ask for help 87. Limit news consumption 88. Limit entertainment consumption 89. Spend more time connecting 90. Stop arguing with people online 91. Create an emergency kit 92. Make a “gratitude list” 93. Unsubscribe from junk emails 94. Skydive 95. Go for a walk everyday / every other day 96. Get a bike 97. Be more polite 98. Say “please" and "thank you" more often 99. Donate blood 100. Read 25 great books
For me personally, I haven’t set any resolutions yet, but my focus will likely be on my health and fitness, and spending less time online.
Hopefully you have enjoyed at least one of the posts I’ve shared on the blog this year. (This will be my last for 2018.)
Happy goal setting and I wish you a wonderful Christmas.