20 New Year's Resolutions For 2021 That Are Totally Realistic & Doable

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Self

It's finally time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions for 2021!

So many things happened this past year — some were good, and many were really, really bad. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't more than ready to say goodbye to 2020 forever.

While the start of a new year is certainly no magic bullet, we can allow it to serve as the kind of symbolic marker the world desperately needs in order to summon the strength and optimism required of us all as we struggle to endure a seemingly relentless pandemic amid a climate of political and social tension.

If nothing else, making a few strategic (or just plain fun) New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to lure yourself into a more positive, onward and upward-focused growth mindset.

Regardless of whether your resolutions involve old standards like getting into shape or more aspirational goals like becoming more politically active, making good on these promises to ourselves can be harder than we think. But interestingly, there is a real chance that 2021 resolutions may be more likely to stick than resolutions have been in the past.

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In an often cited article from Forbes, Justin Conklin wrote that while 40% of Americans planned to make New Year's resolutions for 2019, statistics predicted that 80% would fail within 30 days and only 8% would follow through in accomplishing their goals.

But now, the results of a study reviewed by Catherine Choi for Finder show that 74.02% of Americans plan to make resolutions for 2021! And not only do more people plan to make resolutions this year, but they seem to feel more confident about their chances of resolution success than ever. When the participants surveyed were broken down by generation, 83.43% of Gen Z, 78.16% of Millennials, 72.48% of Gen X, 69.55% of Baby Boomers, and 69.51% of Silent Gen said they expect to achieve their 2021 resolutions.

If you're finding yourself similarly motivated and inspired to make lasting changes for the better beginning on January 1, 2021, we're here to support and encourage you!

As with anything new, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn't) go above and beyond when coming up with ideas to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, making sure your resolutions are both simple and realistic can increase your likelihood of success, which will in turn inspire you to keep going and take on even more.

If you are determined to set New Year's resolutions but are still somewhat torn or confused about what they should, use the list of ideas below for inspiration. You can follow one (or two or three) exactly as written, or use them to help spark some creative ideas of your own.

20 New Year's Resolutions To Make In 2021

1. I won't take the little things so seriously.

If 2020 taught us anything, it's that we are all connected to each other on a global scale.

Choosing to take the little things less seriously doesn't mean that what happens in your personal life is any less important than anything that happens to anyone else, It's about broadening your perspective so you stay more present and feel less anxious on a daily basis.

How to follow through: Rather than allowing yourself to fall into a bad mood when someone doesn't return your texts as quickly as you'd like (or even at all), choose to see them as having gifted you with extra time to reach out to someone you've been neglecting getting into contact with yourself.

2. I will take a picture of something I love every day.

You may or may not have any interest in posting your photos on Instagram or other social media, but just stopping briefly to take a picture of just one thing that makes your soul happy each day is a great way to center yourself in a positive moment without having to spend much thought, time or energy on how to make that happen.

Not only will doing this reinforce even the most fleeting moments of happiness, but come 2022, you'll have a beautiful album full of photos that making you smile you can turn to any time you feel down.

How to follow through: Out for a walk and see an adorable pup stroll by? Snap a pic! Get an email offering you praise for your hard work? Screenshot that baby!

3. I will remember to look up at least once a day.

With so many of us staring at our screens all day — whether for work, distraction, or just out of habit — make a point of breaking yourself away to look up at the person next to you, your pet, the sky, or even just ceiling at least once per day if not once every few hours.

Staring at your screen all day can lead to eyestrain, vision problems, disrupted sleep, headaches, neck pain, and other potential issues. And even if that weren't the case, we could all benefit from taking a few moments each day to pause and reconnect to where we are and who we are there with.

How to follow through: Set a standing alarm on your phone or computer for the same time each day you know will be dedicated to looking up from whatever you are doing, even if just for a moment.

4. I will take responsibility for my own happiness.

This one may sound cliché, but approached from a fresh perspective, it can be one of the most important changes you make.

Taking responsibility for your own happiness shouldn't be assumed to mean that anything currently making you unhappy is all your fault. What it does mean is that you do have the power to do something, even something incredibly small, that shifts your perspective in a way that focuses on gratitude, bringing you both relief and happiness.

As Raj Raghunathan Ph.D. explains, "one's emotional state is a function of how one interprets events, rather than what actually happened." By taking a moment to consider what you can be grateful for within even the worst circumstances or situations, you gain mastery of your own reactions, and in doing so, take responsibility for your own happiness.

How to follow through: Start a gratitude journal specifically dedicated to shifting your perspective about things that make you feel upset or unhappy. Each day, write at least one thing you are grateful for in regard to something or someone that otherwise made you feel unhappy. Sit with that feeling of gratitude for a moment before closing the journal and moving on.

5. I will try something new.

This one is an oldie but goodie type of New Year's resolution for a reason. Trying new things has clinically proven benefits for our mental, physical and emotional health on numerous levels.

How to follow through: This one is pretty straight-forward. Think of something you've talked about doing for ages and still haven't done — and now do it.

6. I will be more open to new perspectives and ideas.

This past year may have been one of the most understandably confusing any of us has ever experienced. You've probably learned more about infectious disease, politics, and social movements than you'd ever expected to before.

Given that we're now so acutely aware of how easily misinformation can spread, commit yourself to diving further into news stories and other sources of information shared with you before rushing to form judgments or opinions.

How to follow through: Make a commitment to reading articles through to the end, watching video in full and checking for reliable sourcing before becoming alarmed, forming a strong opinion and especially before sharing the information with others.

7. I will smile more.

No, this doesn't mean smiling at everyone you see in some weird zombie kind of way, and it certainly shouldn't be taken as advocating for anyone to do that obnoxious thing where they criticize others (re: where men criticize women) for not smiling enough.

That said, studies show that smiling more often promotes real health benefits, including improved mood, reduced blood pressure, increased endurance, reduced pain, reduced stress, and a strengthened immune system. So while you certainly don't need to smile for the sake of anyone else, making a conscious effort to seek experiences that will make you smile is a great gift to give yourself.

How to follow through: Make a point of throwing on a smile for yourself when you look in the mirror, take at least one smiling selfie each day, even if you never post them, or read through some funny memes when you first wake up to start your day off with a natural smile.

8. I will do my best to live in the moment.

In his book, "Here I Am: Using Jewish Spiritual Wisdom to Become More Present, Centered, and Available for Life," licensed psychologist Leonard Felder, PhD, explains that we can outsmart ourselves in moments of extreme stress and anxiety by "stopping, breathing calmly, and hearing the silent supportive question 'Where are you?'"

"Then when you're ready," he continues, "you can answer from your heart and soul ... 'Here I am.'"

Consciously developing a habit of remembering that you can only be where you are right now is a great way to center yourself and stop unproductive anxiety from overwhelming you.

How to follow through: When you find yourself feeling anxious about something that either may future or already happened in the past, stop and ask yourself, "What is happening right now?" Take some deep breaths as you choose to focus on that present moment and release fears about things that may or may not come to pass.

9. I will surround myself with people who inspire me.

Many of us have a tendency to hold onto people our lives would probably be better off without due a sense of loyalty or habit. Making a resolution to cut all of the toxic people out of your life may be a bigger bite than you're ready to chew, and in some cases, it could be genuinely impossible.

What you can realistically do is be more selective about who you choose to interact with during your free time. Whenever possible, make sure the people you call, text or see on a regular basis and when you're not at work are people who inspire you, uplift you and help you feel like the best version of yourself.

How to follow through: While you may not be able to avoid dealing with your hyper-critical co-worker in order to get your job done, you don't have to follow her on social media or answer her calls in the evening. Decide that the only people who's calls you will answer or who you will meet up with after work hours will be those you know you will leave you feeling even better after the interaction.

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10. I will spend less time on social media.

How much "less" means to you is relative, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone out there who wouldn't benefit from some reduction in their time spent absorbed in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.

How to follow through: Most Android smartphones and iPhones now monitor how much time you spend on each app within your settings. Take a look to see your daily average, and set a goal to reduce it, even if only by 10-15%.

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11. I will let go of grudges.

Holding onto grudges means "living with a feeling of anger almost constantly, even if it’s below the surface." Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, all of that repressed emotion can cause increased feelings of anxiety, stress, and/or depression that only worsen with time.

While anger may serve an initial purpose, such as keeping you away from people and situations that are unhealthy for you, it's important to check in from time to time to be sure you've let those feelings go once they are no longer needed.

How to follow through: In another twist on gratitude journaling, take a moment each evening to log any feelings of anger or resentment you experienced during the day. Note who you felt the grudge toward, why you think you haven't let go of that anger, and refocus your perspective by listing at least one lesson you are grateful to have learned from that person or situation.

12. I will speak less and listen more.

You may already be a pro at active listening, but for those of us who aren't, it's never too late to improve. It can seem especially challenging to be patient when you're feeling anxious or depressed, as so many of us are these days.

But the counter-intuitive fact of the matter is that quite often, shifting your mind away from your own thoughts and worries by focusing on just being there for someone else can be one of the most effective ways to calm your mind.

How to follow through: You may need to enlist a trusted friend or two for help with this one. Come to an agreement that you (or each of you) are only allowed to talk about yourself for X number of minutes before you have stop and have the other person speak about themselves. When it's their turn be sure to stay engaged by being consciously curious and asking them questions to take the conversation deeper.

13. I will laugh every day.

Just like smiling, laughter isn't just fun, it comes with a multiple of health benefits. Making an effort to find the humor in otherwise difficult situations is a great way to avoid spiraling downward into anger, frustration and anxiety.

How to follow through: Even if you can't laugh at the day's events, you can take a moment to skim through a meme account or watch a funny clip or two on YouTube in the evening before you get ready for bed.

14. I will choose happiness instead of chasing it.

Happiness, like any emotion, is not a constant state of being. We simply cannot feel happy at all times. If we did, that would just be weird.

Emotions come and go, so there is no reason to chase after them. Instead of chasing after happiness from a place of fear and scarcity, may a conscious effort to get better at recognizing and accepting it when you feel happy in any given moment, as well as to look for the aspects of circumstances you can appreciate and feel happy about rather focusing on those you think are holding you back.

How to follow through: Yes, it's time to journal again! Before going to sleep each night make a list of three things you felt happy for over the course of your day. The more you do this, the better you will get at recognizing those things that are bringing you happiness in the moment you experience them.

15. I will eat better, not less.

Restrictive dieting is so bizarrely tempting, but it is never realistic, healthy, helpful or effective. If you want to change your eating habits in order to lose weight, feel better or have more energy, make a resolution that involves choosing better foods, not less of what you already eat.

How to follow through: Make a commitment to add at least one healthy food you otherwise wouldn't eat to at least one meal per day each day. Start by commiting to do so for a week, then for a month. Pretty soon, you'll have made it the whole year!

16. I will be kinder to myself.

Given how isolated so many of us are at this time, whether that's due to necessity, job loss, being diligent about social distancing, or because of lockdown orders, anyone with a tendency to self-blame is likely feeling that burden to an even greater extent than we have in the past.

If you fall easily into the trap of being overly self-critical, one of the most helpful resolutions you can make this year is to be kinder to yourself.

How to follow through: Keep a journal nearby throughout the day (or you can use a notepad on your computer or phone). When you find yourself feeling critical of something you've said or done, stop and write down something positive the same situation can teach you about yourself.

17. I will only commit to things I know I can do.

The people-pleasers of the world often find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle in which they say yes to everything but their own needs, only to find themselves coming up short when they inevitably cannot follow through on all of those commitments they felt so much pressure from themselves to make.

It's far better to say no (or even maybe when that's an option) than to put yourself in the position of disappointing yourself and others over and over again.

How to follow through: Before saying yes to a request or invitation, ask yourself whether or not it is something you really can (and want to) do. If the answer is no, honor that. They'll get over it.

18. I will find ways to be of service to others.

This one is similar to the resolution about listening more. Often the best thing we can do for ourselves is to look for ways we can be of service to others. Even during the pandemic, there are plenty of opportunities available for people who want to volunteer virtually.

How to follow through: Volunteer for an organization your care about, or ask your friends and family if there is anything they or anyone they know need help with.

19. I will prioritize people above things.

Those of us who have spent a solid chunk of the pandemic waiting for the next package to arrive from Amazon are probably more painfully aware than we have ever been that material objects are no replacement for people and experiences.

You may not be able to spend time with the people who matter most to you now, but that doesn't mean you should value them any less. You may understandably hate Zoom calls. You may not feel like talking on the phone. But you can push through that resistance in order to stay connected and make sure the people you care for know they are still your top priority.

How to follow through: Set regularly scheduled times to get in touch with your friends and family, and then be sure to follow through, even when you don't feel like it. Make sure they know they are your top priority.

20. I will stop making excuses — for myself and for others.

There may be plenty of good reasons why you snapped at your partner when they were just trying to be helpful. There may be plenty of good reasons why the person you thought was the love of your life keeps hurting you again and again.

Understanding the reasons for negative behaviors is important in order for those behaviors to change. But at the same, those reasons cannot be allowed to serve as excuses. Excusing bad behavior from yourself only others only sets the pattern back on repeat.

How to follow through: Instead of saying, "I'm sorry I did that, but [insert excuse here]." try saying, "I'm sorry I did that and {this is what I intend to do differently in the future]."

Remember to start small and be kind to yourself as the New Year begins.

If you notice yourself starting to slip, you can simply kick yourself back into gear when you're ready.

And if you try something new and find it doesn't work for you, know that isn't a failure it's another lesson learned. Instead of beating yourself up about it, consider what you want to do with that new information.

Good luck — and Happy New Year!

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Kayla Cavanagh is a writer and editor covering pop culture and relationship topics, the best quote and meme roundups and inspiring and sharable entertainment content.

Emily Ratay is a full-time writer living in Pittsburgh who is passionate about the environment and feminism, and knows that anything is possible in the right pair of shoes.