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20 New Year’s Resolutions for a Happier 2020 (and how to stick to them)

With the new year just around the corner, it’s possible that you’ve started thinking about the resolutions you’d like to set. To help you get started, I put together 20 New Years’ resolutions that will help you live a happier 2020. For each resolution, you’ll find the benefits of setting it and either a step-by-step on how to stick to it or resources where you can learn more about it. Here’s to making 2020 your year!

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Outline of New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Wellness/Personal Development New Years Resolutions
    • Get enough sleep
    • Set aside 1 hour a week dedicated to personal development
    • Carve out 30 minutes a day for self-care
    • Drink half of your body weight in oz of water a day
    • Get rid of clutter
    • Step out of your comfort zone once a month
    • Set goals and work to achieve them
    • Try a new type of workout
    • Give other people more compliments
  • Career New Years Resolutions
    • Ask for a raise
    • Work toward a promotion by gaining a new skill
    • Ask for a promotion
    • Find a new job (if you are unhappy with your current job)
  • Adulting/Finance New Years Resolutions
    • Organize your life
    • Work toward living a debt-free life
    • Start saving for retirement
    • Open an investment account
    • Create a budget & stick to it
    • Reprioritize how you spend your money
    • Start saying “no” more

Wellness/Personal Development New Year’s Resolutions

1. Get enough sleep

This seems simple, but that’s exactly why it needs to be emphasized. When things get crazy, sleep seems to be the first thing people are willing to sacrifice in order to check off everything on their to-do lists.

The CDC recommends that people get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. And according to this survey, 41% of Americans get six or fewer hours of sleep every night.

What you can do:

Try unplugging from technology for the last hour before bed. You can use this hour to:

  • Have pillow talk with your S/O
  • Play with your dog/cat/pet
  • Have family time
  • Read a physical book
  • Tidy up your apartment or part of your home
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Write down what you are grateful for
  • Do a skincare ritual

2. Set aside an hour a week dedicated to personal development

Everyone I know has a list (written down or in their head) of things they wish they knew, did, or could learn. A few items on my list used to be watercolor painting, social media marketing, and Italian. For a long time, I told myself that I didn’t have time to dedicate to learning those things. But once I spent a week recording how I spent my time and saw how much of it was spent sitting in front of a TV, I realized that I did have the time.

What you can do:

  1. Write down a list of things you wish you knew more about or skills you want to gain
  2. Rank these in order of interest
  3. Record how you spend your time (I did this for a week. You can do it for one day too) and be honest with yourself
  4. Find one hour of your week that can be dedicated to learning the first interest on your list
  5. Make it a priority by blocking time out on your calendar

I crossed off painting, social media marketing, and Italian from my list and am currently working on Ayurveda, yoga, and nutrition.

I’m not saying I learned all that there is to learn about watercolor, social media marketing, or the Italian language. I’m just saying that I learned enough to determine whether or not these interests were things I still wanted to pursue.

For example, I still break out my watercolor paint sets when I’m stressed and I have a career in social media, but I decided that becoming fluent in Italian wasn’t something I wanted to pursue anymore.

The same goes for the list you create. Let’s say you have an interest in film and you read a couple of books or take a class on it and decide it’s not that interesting to you. Move on to the next item of the list because you learned more about that interest, decided it wasn’t for you, and now it’s not one of those things you wish you knew more about.

3. Carve out 30 minutes a day to start a new self-care habit

If you’re aiming to get more sleep in 2020 (new years resolution #1) and you’re doing this by unplugging from screens the last hour before bed, you can easily slide this half-hour of self-care into that hour of unplugging.

Benefits of self-care:

  • Better physical health
  • More compassion to give
  • Better stress management
  • Enhanced self-esteem
  • Increased productivity

Here are a few self-care habits to try out:

  • Journaling
  • Create a skin-care routine
    • The basic steps of skincare are to cleanse, tone, and moisturize. You can also look into adding masks and serums, or the famous 10-step Korean skincare routine
  • Going for a light walk
  • Meditating

4. Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water every day

When I worked for a bottled water company and had access to their product, I drank water ALL of the time. Staying hydrated was easy and I didn’t think much about it until after I left. I started getting headaches daily and had a harder time staying active. My sister asked me if I had enough water and I couldn’t even remember when I last had water.

Just in case you need a little more convincing of the importance of staying hydrated, here’s a little science. 60% of your body is water and research shows that as little as 1 percent dehydration negatively affects your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination.

When to drink water:

  • Right when you wake up
  • Any time you feel hungry
  • Whenever you feel tired
  • Before every meal
  • When your mouth gets dry
  • If you have a headache

5. Get rid of clutter or anything that doesn’t “spark joy”

I wrote this one down because I was having a hard time picking outfits for a trip to New Mexico and thought to myself “I love all of my clothes!” Then I had a flashback to last winter when I decided to KonMari my clothes because we were snowed in and lost the internet.

Prior to this, packing was easy because my closet only consisted of a few go-to outfits (even though it was filled to the brim). By getting rid of clothes that were too old, didn’t fit, and I didn’t want, I finally had room for clothes I actually liked.

What you can do:

  • Find a decluttering method you enjoy like KonMari or minimalism
  • Take things slow and in small chunks
    • I started with my closet because I did the KonMari method and it felt like the place I could make the most impact
    • If I wasn’t snowed in, I would have split up my clothes into sections (tops, bottoms, dresses, etc).
  • Designate a spot for every item you decide to keep. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding it or figuring out a place to put it away.

6. Step outside of your comfort zone 1x a month

Getting outside of your comfort zone can help you:

  • Meet new people
  • Be less afraid of the unknown
  • Respond better to stress
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Increase your self-confidence

What you can do:

  • Make a list of the things you are afraid of
  • Grab some post-it’s and put each item on one post-it
    • For example, if I were afraid of public speaking, I would put “speak in public” on one post-it.
  • Fold up the post-it’s
  • Place them in a jar
  • Once a month, pick one thing out of the jar for you to do
    • For example, if I picked out “public speaking,” I would volunteer to do a presentation at work or go to a toastmasters meeting and prepare a speech.

7. Set goals and work to achieve them

I use the Artist of Life workbook by Lavendaire to help me set goals and stick to them. With the help of the workbook, I:

  • reflect on the highlights and learnings of the prior year
  • set goals based on the person I want to be
  • revisit these goals monthly
  • set monthly subgoals so I can keep working toward my overall goals

What you can do:

  • Write down your goals for the year, quarter, month, week, and or/day
  • Revisit these goals often
  • Reflect on your progress
  • Adjust what you are doing to keep moving toward these goals

8. Try a new type of workout

One of the reasons people can’t stick to a workout regimen is because they don’t genuinely like the type of workout they are doing.

In high school, I danced for 1.5-4.5 hours a day and when I went to college I didn’t have dance as a way to workout anymore. So I gained 30 pounds my freshman year of college even though I tried to work out.

I tried running, following youtube videos, and taking workout classes. But I couldn’t for the life of me stick to a workout routine. I started to accept the fact that this was just the way things were. But what I didn’t know was that I just hadn’t found the type of workout that I liked.

Three years later, I started seeing a guy (my current boyfriend) who liked weight lifting. Since it was something I had always wanted to try but was too nervous, I worked out with him and LOVED it (the company definitely helped). Even though it’s been four years, I still lift weights 3-6x a week and love it.

What you can do:

If there’s a type of workout you’ve always wanted to try out, sign up for classes, join a meet up group, or work with a personal trainer! Most places have a special rate for new students.

9. Give other people more compliments

One summer, I worked at Kate Spade and had to work a shift on the Fourth of July. My sister had a blue dress with white stars, my mom had a red cardigan, and I had white espadrille wedges. Since it was a cute outfit I wanted to wear it, but I was nervous because it was VERY themed and it was the first time I dressed up for a holiday. After a lot of pushing from my mom, I wore it. I got a ton of compliments from my coworkers and customers.

Moral of the story, you never know how nervous someone else is to do something (or in my case, wear something) so if you genuinely like what someone else did, why not compliment them?

What you can do:

  • Giving compliments can feel awkward so start small
    • For example, let a stranger know you like their outfit
    • You can work up to bigger things (like complimenting a coworker on a job well done) later
  • Be genuine about the compliments you give
  • Look the person you are complimenting in the eyes
  • Smile

Career New Year’s Resolutions

10. Ask for a raise

I come from a culture where it’s rude to ask for things so this was an adjustment for me.

If you know the work you are putting in is worth more than what you are being paid, ask for a raise. Here are two ways to find out if you are worth more:

  • Companies like Payscale and Glassdoor can show you the average salary for someone with your years of experience, job title, and city
  • If you’ve taken on more responsibility than when you started your job and are doing well, you should be compensated for it

Resources on how to properly ask for a raise:

11. Learn a new skill that will help you get a promotion

Before you can ask for a promotion, you may need to gain some skills.

What you can do:

  • Create a career roadmap by downloading this workbook and completing the first page
  • Search for job openings for the title of the promotion you want to get
  • Look for common skills (that you haven’t yet mastered) between the job descriptions
  • Rank these in order of importance to the role
  • Dedicate time each week to learn more about that skill
  • Take on new projects at work that will allow you to apply that skill

12. Ask what you can do to get a promotion

Adding a new skill isn’t always the only thing you need to get a promotion. Ask your manager what you need to do to take the next step in your career.

Resources:

13. If you are unhappy with your current job, find a new job

Many times, people stay at their jobs even if they are unhappy because they feel stuck. I’ve definitely been there. I once stayed at a job because I was scared to leave and it ended up costing me my mental and emotional health.

Resources:

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Adulting/Finances New Year’s Resolutions

14. Organize your life

Using a planner will help you:

  • Be productive
  • Manage your time better
  • Say “no”
  • Unplug
  • Cope with stress
  • Be positive
  • Set goals

Resources:

15. Work toward living a debt-free life

One of the things I was nervous about when I graduated from college was paying off my student loans. The thought of working hard in my career and not being able to use my full paycheck because I needed to pay off debt caused a lot of sleepless nights.

But after reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, I paid off my student loans in less than five months and had a fully-funded emergency fund a year later.

I’ve been living a debt-free life ever since and it feels great to know that when payday comes, every cent will go to something I want. This is something I want everyone to feel!

What you can do:

  1. Save up $1,000 as quickly as possible
  2. Pay off debt
  3. Fully fund your emergency fund
  4. Save up for big-ticket items (like a vacay) instead of buying with a credit card and paying it off later

Check out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover to learn more.

16. Put aside a percent of your income for retirement

When you’re just starting out in your career, retirement is so far away that it might not seem like something you should be thinking about. But here are a few stats that will prove that you should be thinking about it:

  • More than half of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.
  • On average, employees who don’t take advantage of their employer’s 401K matching benefit, miss out on an extra $1,336 in retirement matching each year
  • 76% of baby boomers aren’t confident they’ve saved enough for retirement.
    • Of this 76%, 68% wish they’d saved more and 67% wish they would’ve started saving earlier.
  • You can find more stats and information here.

What you can do:

  • Start by reviewing your benefits package or asking your HR department about retirement funding benefits
  • Sign up for your company’s program
    • If you don’t qualify for a 401K program or your company doesn’t have a program, look into IRAs (individual retirement account)
  • Whether you sign up for your company’s 401K program or open an IRA, set it up so it automatically gets deducted from your paycheck
  • Decide on the percent you will contribute
    • This will depend on your financial situation, but if your company matches your contributions, I highly recommend at least maxing that out. Meaning if they match your contributions up to 3%, contribute at least 3%
    • Dave Ramsey recommends putting aside 15%, but this doesn’t all have to go into your 401k. You can also create an investment portfolio or open an IRA.

17. Open an investment account

Before you open an investment account, it’s best if you are debt-free (head to number 15 if you still have some debt to pay off). Two reasons I opened investment accounts were:

  • to save for retirement
  • save for big-ticket items
    • For example, a home, education, wedding, or vacation.

Resources to learn more about investing:

18. Create and stick to your budget

In order to work toward a debt-free life, save for retirement, and start building wealth, you’ll need to be able to stick to a budget.

What you can do

  • Download this budgeting template to keep track of your expenses. Then use the two graphs to see the percentage breakdown of how you spent your money and how your actual spending compares to your budget

19. Reprioritize how you spend your money

With the way, I used to spend my money, you’d think my priorities were living expenses, then eating out, then entertainment, then shopping, and finally groceries.

Needless to say, these weren’t actually my priorities. I wanted to spend my money on personal development, but I never felt like I had the funds to do that. After taking a hard look at how I actually spent my money, I was able to prioritize personal development.

What you can do:

  • Take a look at how you spent your money this past year
    • If you used a credit card, you can take a look at your yearly spending on your online account
      • If you want to get more granular on where your money was spent, follow the instructions in the bullet below
    • If you used a debit card, this will be a bit more manual.
      • download a CSV file of your transactions for the year (the previous month or quarter will be fine too)
      • then categorize each transaction
      • Download this budget sheet then copy and paste your transactions into the “Transaction” tab
  • Compare how you spent your money to how you actually want to spend your money
    • Did you spend more money on one of the categories than you thought or would have liked?
    • Think about how you’d want to spend that money instead
  • Create a budget that prioritizes how you would like to spend your money

20. Start saying “no” more

There isn’t very much time in the day. Most of it is spent sleeping, commuting, eating, and working. So to make time for yourself, you have to be able to say “no” to things you do because you feel obligated to do them.

Resources on how to say no:

What New Year’s Resolutions will you be setting for yourself this year? Comment below!

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