Not-so-fun fact: by now, 43% of people have failed their New Years Resolution.
It’s not for lack of excitement. Every December 31st, people gush about their newest improvement projects. Yet somehow, nearly half of them have gone astray within 30 days (for the curious, only 9% are completed by the end of the year).
So, what’s the problem with a resolution?
There are two big issues.
Firstly, resolutions tend to be big, long-term projects. Things like creating a whole book and becoming a gym expert take time and dedication. Without a plan, these goals are daunting, unmanageable, and easy to fall off track of. Secondly, there’s a lot of delayed gratification. Making large scale life changes, no matter the end effects, are not that fun. You have to restructure your time, be bad at something, and still may not reach your goal in the end.
The solution? Intents. In the words of our friends over at The Brown Perfection, intents are “doing something with a purpose and is performed with the conscious mind.” They focus on small positive changes that you savor (no autopilot). Any big goals achieved are just happy runoffs. The result is a life improvement focused on the everyday…aka, the days that make up the vast majority of your life. They’re also easy to work with, since they take much less time as a whole than most resolutions. Another benefit: you can start them right now and not feel like you're behind. Sold? Read on for some ideas to add into your life.
Before the intent ideas, here are some tips for making them stick:
- Remember your “why”. I learned this one from my mother’s gym, and it’s kind of the entire basis of intents. Write down why you want to have this intent. When you are struggling to stay motivated, reread it.
- Grant yourself grace. Intents are about consistency, yes. But that consistency takes a while to build. If you want to, say, read three times a week, chances are you’ll start with once. This also applies to “off” days: you’re probably not keeping to a budget the week of a vacation, or moving your body a lot on Christmas Day. By letting little things slide, you keep yourself motivated. It’s the collective effort that matters!
Now that you’re prepped in Intent-Clinging 101, here are 23 ideas to make 2023 your best year yet… starting now!
Move your body
Notice how I said “move” and not the gym? Yeah, we are not bullying ourselves into joining a gym this year. Moving your body has incredible effects, not just physically, but mentally too. Try a bunch of different movement types, and carve out time for the ones you love. Maybe going on a walk during your lunch break makes you happy, or a spin class in the morning. Or maybe you really enjoy the gym! It’s all about you.
Turn off your phone for a set period of time on the weekends
Do you think you could go a whole weekend without your phone? Screen-free weekends are a powerful way to disconnect and recharge. For safety, you can also just uninstall your social apps for the time being. If that sounds like too much, you can instead power off your phone at a certain time at night. Bonus: it’s really good for your sleep schedule!
Invest (mindfully) in new clothes
Shopping is something most people advise against. However, it’s often actually wiser to spread your shopping out. Not only will you avoid buying microtrend pieces you don’t touch after a month, it gives you the time to research and explore clothing that truly make you feel confident. No more keeping jeans you hate because you spent too much on unplanned random outfits. Undergarments are always a strong investment piece; not only are they often woefully mis-sized, they also are consistently the most important part of an outfit. If your bra doesn’t fit right, how is everything else supposed to? Let's go shop for some [comfortable] timeless pieces you’ll still adore come next New Year’s.
Read more often
An infamously vague and easy to fail resolution: “I want to read this year!”. Reading is a phenomenal goal…it’s amazing for stress relief and scientifically proven to build empathy to others. However, simply saying a number of books you want to devour is going to get overwhelming and checklist-y quickly. Focus on time over pages-per-day (they vary widely). Also, try different times of day for reading. I love nighttime, but some people swear by reading in the morning with their breakfast.
Have a day to plan hangouts with friends for the week
Humans are inherently social creatures (yes, even you, fellow introverts). Sending out a couple “what are you up to this week?” texts on Sunday can give you just the thing to look forward to during the workweek. Trust me, Wednesday you will be so glad you took the time to set up some fun with friends!
Spend time outside
Your parents and grandparents were right your entire childhood: you really should go play outside! From walking through the neighborhood, to visiting the local park, to checking out your gym’s outdoor pool, spending time in the sun is important year-round. If it’s cold where you live this time of year, consider learning a sport like skiing or snowshoeing. You can start by renting equipment…no pressure if you don’t enjoy it!
Complete classes at the local college/online learning community/LinkedIn/etc.
Speaking of learning, trying new things is huge for mental health. Exploring topics you’re interested in can be a great way to keep your mind sharp, meet new people, and maybe even find a new passion. LinkedIn has free courses, and many universities will let you “sit in” on a course for free if you don’t ask for credits (i.e make it count toward a degree).
Say daily mirror affirmations
Affirmations are having a bit of a moment, and frankly, I’m here for it. Positive self-talk in your head is one thing, but saying them out loud is a whole other level. You can make your own, or find lists online. My personal favorite: I am ready for the joy the universe has for me.
Compliment someone daily
As a wise person once said…”what goes around comes back around”. Random compliments are always amazing to receive, so why not give them out? You’re probably already thinking of them, and everyone loves a hype-up. You might even make a new friend.
Dedicate a night(s) a week to self-care
One tricky aspect of self-care is that it often takes a little bit of prep time. By putting it on the calendar, you feel obligated to do it, and have time to get the supplies you want. From making a face mask, to renting a movie, to cooking something special, it’s good to have a night dedicated to something you love. Side note: our community is calling this the "Self-Care Bra" that every woman needs.
Incorporate a mental health food intent
This isn’t the classic January Diet. Take a good look at what you eat, and think about how they make you feel. Not someone else, not a nutritionist…only you. Maybe you don’t love your relationship with your caffeine or alcohol intake. Maybe having a couple extra veggies always gives you really good energy. Maybe you feel slightly out-of-it when you eat too much fried food or sugar. Find a food that makes you feel better, or one that makes you feel worse, and find a way to change your intents to incorporate/reduce it. By freeing yourself from classic “good” and “bad” food labels, you can make actually meaningful change for yourself.
I started this hobby in 2020, and it’s one of my favorite ones (especially as a teenager). A huge part of this intent is making it stressless. You don’t have to write a full page, or decorate the pages at all! My setup is writing down three things I’m excited for in the morning, three things I’m grateful for and three wins at night, and choosing a “song of the day” at night as well (a new song or one you had on repeat that day). It’s a wonderful way to start and end your day positive. And the Songs of the Day’s make INCREDIBLE end-of-the-year retrospectives.
Listen to *blank* new songs/albums a month
Plot twist: learning isn’t always in a classroom/course setting! If you love the arts and want to add something exciting to your year, make an active effort to find new tunes. You might find a new favorite genre, band, or song! A couple great places for recommendations are music websites, friends/family, and magazines.
Reduce social media use
It goes without saying that social media use is not great for your mental health. Comparison, body image issues, feelings of being off-track…all are made worse by scrolling. While going completely off social media is, in all honesty, pretty impossible, reducing the percent of your day it gets can do wonders.
Get More Sleep
Do I even have to tell you how important your eight hours of Z’s are? One of the best tips for getting more sleep is to plan your day. If you have a gameplan, you're more likely to get your work done at a reasonable time. As for quality of sleep, following a nightly routine can be huge. When your body goes through the same motions before sleeping every day, it’ll start releasing melatonin then.
Make a budget monthly/for every month
Financial wellness isn’t talked about in relation to mental health a lot, but in reality, it has a huge influence. Low checking accounts, debt, and lack of savings are all huge stressors. Use your bank statements to find places you can save. Set realistic goals for yourself using the budget. Then, change your day-to-day to reach those goals.
Listen to podcast episodes
Our final learning-based intent. Podcasts cover every topic on the planet, and are easy to listen to while working or commuting.
Call the parents/family
Another key social intent! With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, calling mom/dad/whoever can fall by the wayside. A good tip is to, like with friends, plan it a little. Sending a text in the morning asking when they’re free can make sure you don’t find the time to call just to not get picked up.
Complete spiritual practices
Spiritual wellness is a huge part of emotional health for a lot of people. Whether it’s praying, meditations, or anything else, take the time to connect with what you believe in.
Drink more water
Did you know that, according to Healthline studies, 75% of Americans do not drink enough water? Needless to say, that’s not a good thing. Up your water intake by carrying a water bottle with you (more convenient), using flavor packets (more tasty), and setting reminders on your phone (easier to remember).
Avoid phone/computer in the AM
This is an intent I recently started and have been really enjoying. Being bombarded by texts and emails to reply to is really not the greatest way to begin your day. Leave your phone off and have screen-free getting-ready time. You can talk with family, or just appreciate the morning. If you’re worried about missing an emergency, you can definitely take a look at your notifications!
Apply to *blank* number of jobs/internships a week
This ones for the students, and the people looking for a new path! Randomly applying to positions and/or applying to a bunch last-minute are not good strategies for getting a job you love. Set time aside over a couple of days to first find the positions, then apply to them, and then follow up. It makes the whole process less stressful.
Join a club
There’s a lot of middle and high school I don’t miss…but everyone being in organizations is not one of them. Meeting new people, trying new things, and having an excuse to get out of the house? Sign me up! These are also a good way to add accountability to your other goals. Some common clubs for adults include book/writing clubs, culinary clubs, exercise classes, and volunteering.
Written by Victoria Fluet