12 New Years Resolutions That Aren’t About Diet or Exercise (and Will Actually Change Your Life)

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Like most people, you’ve probably made New Years resolutions in the past focused on losing weight or getting fitter. But how often do those goals centered around diet and exercise stick long-term?

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In my experience, aiming for changes I connect with on a deeper level is much more likely to become a lasting habit. So this year, I want to offer you 12 resolutions that aren’t about diet or exercise – but are still guaranteed to change your life. 

These goals focus on nurturing the things we truly care about like our relationships, happiness, personal growth, and overall well-being.

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Small tweaks in areas like sleep, gratitude, savings, and family time have the power to boost your quality of life without a total overhaul. Even better, they’re simple changes you can start today without an expensive gym membership or rigid meal plan.

Whether you’re looking to better yourself or just want a less stressful new year, I hope you find some inspiring ideas here. Feel free to pick a few goals that resonate or mix and match resolutions to suit your needs.

No matter what you choose,  you’ll feel like a happier, healthier new you without stepping foot in a bootcamp class or tracking calories!

#1. Improve Your Sleep

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We’ve all been there – tossing and turning all night, dragging through the day in a fog of exhaustion. Sound familiar? Well, prioritizing quality sleep should be at the top of your resolutions list this year. 

Now I know getting to bed on time and sleeping through the night can seem like a tall order when life gets busy. But just a little extra shut-eye can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Studies show better sleep can boost your mood, focus, memory and even help manage weight. Pretty great benefits, right?

The good news is you don’t need to clock 8 hours a night to reap rewards. Even just 15 more minutes of slumber here and there can make a difference. My best advice is to start small – maybe set a bedtime cutoff of 10 pm and put away devices 30 minutes before. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine like reading or taking a warm bath will help signal to your body it’s time to rest.

With a little effort, you’ll be feeling well-rested and ready to take on your days with more energy and positivity in no time. 

#2. Develop a Gratitude Practice

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In a world that can feel chaotic and stressful, it’s so important to take time each day to focus on what matters – the good things in our lives. That’s why being more grateful should be high on your list this year. 

Studies show taking just 5 minutes to write down a few things you’re thankful for can instantly boost your mood. It’s like an easy emotional pick-me-up you can give yourself daily! I like to jot down things big and small – from my health and home to coffee with friends. 

The best part is you don’t need a fancy journal or pen to get started. Even scribbling gratitudes into your notes app works. I’ve found keeping a “gratitude grocery list” on my phone means I have it with me wherever the day takes me.

Expressing appreciation has also been shown to improve sleep, lower stress and make us nicer to be around (bonus!). It’s the perfect resolution to feel happier and bring more positivity to the world around you. Why not give it a try each morning this week? 

#3. Read More Books

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Not only is reading relaxing, but it has major benefits beyond just being entertaining. Did you know studies show readers tend to be more empathetic, knowledgeable, and emotionally intelligent? 

This year, why not make exploring new stories and topics through books one of your goals? Even if you only carve out 15 minutes a day of reading, you’ll be blown away by how much you can learn. Keep things interesting by sampling different genres each time – one week it’s thrillers, and the next is history or biographies. 

Don’t worry if you’re not much of a “reader” yet. Start small with a fun magazine or graphic novel, or download the library app to borrow ebooks and audiobooks on your commute. Building the daily habit is what matters most. 

Just think – in a few short months you could gain new skills and insights from great minds, all while relaxing on the couch. Talk about a resolution that enriches your life without much effort! 

#4. Spend Less Time on Social Media

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like I’m glued to my phone! Between social media, texting, and endless internet rabbit holes, it’s so easy to waste hours online without even realizing it. 

This year, why not try freeing up some of that screen time for actual real-life connections? Studies show excessive social media use can contribute to loneliness, anxiety, and FOMO (fear of missing out). By spending less time scrolling and more time with actual people, you’ll be doing wonders for your mental health.

Leave your phone in another room for one hour after work each night to properly unwind without distractions. On weekends, set a no-device rule for meals and activities with friends/family. You’ll be surprised by how much more you enjoy conversations and your surroundings. 

I know going cold turkey isn’t realistic for everyone, so even just limiting certain apps to certain times each day can make a difference. Maybe only allow yourself to scroll your feed during your lunch break at work instead of any other free moment. 

The goal is to be more mindful of how and when we use technology so it stops controlling us. Before you know it, you’ll be a present partner, friend, and family member instead of a distracted one. The real world is waiting, and it’ll be way more fun when you’re fully plugged in!

#5. Save Up For a Rainy Day 

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an adult, it’s that you never know when unexpected expenses may pop up. Car repairs, home issues, medical bills – life has a way of throwing curveballs at the most inconvenient times! 

Rather than stressing about money worries, why not get proactive this year by building up your savings? Even setting aside a small amount each month can add up over 12 months. You can even automatically transfer cash so you don’t miss it from your daily spending.

The goal is to have at least $500 tucked away for emergencies by this time next year. But you can always aim higher if you’re comfortable. Having a savings cushion means you won’t need to stress over things like deductibles or car troubles when life happens.

Just remember – you don’t need to save a fortune to see benefits. Even a Latte Fund of just $20 a month can grow before you know it. This is about building a habit, not depriving yourself. You’ve got this!

#6. Nurture Your Relationships

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In a world where it’s all too easy to take the people closest to us for granted, making meaningful connections is so important. This year, resolve to nurture the relationships that matter.

Whether it’s your partner, family, friends, or even just neighbors, carving out quality time is key. Schedule regular date nights, game nights, walks in the park – anything to unplug together. Studies show quality conversations boost everything from our mood to immunity.

But it’s not just about spending more minutes together. Making others feel special through acts of service, compliments or thoughtful gifts shows you care. Drop off cookies, help with chores, write thank you cards – the little things can mean a lot. 

And remember, relationships are a two-way street. Be sure to really listen without distraction when others open up too. 

Your community is what makes life meaningful and focusing on the people you care about will leave you feeling more fulfilled and less lonely. Spread joy in the new year by nurturing the relationships that nourish your soul. Remember, quality time over quantity is key – so don’t stress if full days aren’t possible. Even a 10-minute call or short note can brighten someone’s day. This is an easy resolution to feel great benefits from. You’ve got this!

#7. Find Your Happy Place

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Sometimes the world seems to move so fast, so important we take time for ourselves to recharge and decompress. But between work, everyday things, and a million other obligations, “me time” often gets pushed aside. 

This year, make it a priority to nurture your mental well-being with activities that spark joy. That might mean daily walks in nature, cozying up with my journal, music and a cup of tea, yoga, reading, crafts, or creative hobbies. The options are endless – it’s about finding what soothes your soul.

Even just 10-20 minutes a day of “me time” can leave you feeling refreshed. And isn’t that what self-care is all about? You deserve tender, loving care too. 

#8. Learn Something New

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What better way to keep our minds sharp than challenging them with new skills and information? I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking to expand my horizons a little more each year. 

This year, challenge yourself to learn something you’ve always been curious about. Maybe it’s a new language, maybe it’s a new hobby, the options are endless depending on your interests.

You’d be surprised how much free or low-cost content is available online. Even if you can only carve out 30 minutes a week, you’ll be amazed at what you pick up. I’m currently obsessed with learning about gardening on Instagram – you never know what might spark your passion!

Learning is a lifelong journey, so start small and go from there. Any new skill or topic can lead to even more discoveries. Are you ready to expand your mind this year?

#9. Get Up and Get Moving

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We all know exercise has amazing mental and physical benefits, but between work and life, it’s easy to get sedentary and feel guilty about it. This year, sneak more movement into your days however you can. 

It could be dancing while cooking dinner, or going for a walk when you call your mom, any movement is better than none. And it doesn’t need to be intense – even just 10 minutes here and there adds up fast.

Movement does wonders for your mood and energy levels and gets those endorphins flowing. You can even invite your friend or neighbor along because having company makes it that much more fun!

#10 Try Something New 

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We all know it’s good to step outside our comfort zone now and then to keep life interesting. This year, let’s resolve to broaden your horizons by trying at least one new activity. 

It can be anything from checking out a local art walk, hiking trail, or museum you’ve never been to before. Maybe there’s a cooking class, dance lesson, or meetup group that piques your interest? The options are endless – you just need to take that first step. Who knows, you may just find a new hobby you love! 

#11. Small Acts of Kindness

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The world can feel heavy at times, but making others feel good is so important. This year, make a conscious effort to spread more joy through little acts of kindness.

It could be paying for the car behind you at the drive-thru, leaving encouraging notes for a friend or neighbor who’s struggling, telling your family and friends how much you appreciate them, or complimenting strangers when something about them strikes you – small gestures go a long way. You never know what someone else is going through, so brightening their day can mean the world.

Even if it’s just holding the door for someone or letting another driver change lanes, small gestures can shift someone’s entire day. I truly believe our world would be a much happier place if we all committed to this.

#12. Simplify Where You Can

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Everything moves at such a fast pace, that it’s easy to let our lives get overcomplicated. But sometimes less truly is more, you know? This new year year take the opportunity to simplify where possible for a less stressful existence.

Whether it’s decluttering your home, paring down your schedule, or cutting back on social media scrolling – removing unnecessary clutter can do wonders for your well-being. Out with the old and in with a calmer way of living. Your happiness doesn’t depend on material things or constant busyness after all, less truly can be so much more.

But remember, it’s all about finding what works for your lifestyle. No need to go overboard if a cluttered desk or schedule works for you. The goal is to enhance well-being, not add more stress. One small change at a time is all it takes. 

Remember, progress over perfection is the name of the game. Be kind to yourself as you challenge your comfort zones and daily habits. We’re all works in progress, so don’t get discouraged if some days are harder than others. 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So start small, and celebrate the little wins!

Jennifer G.

Jennifer G.

Jenn is the head writer here @Thezenish. She loves Marvel and is likely rewatching one of the films for the umpteenth time! She loves ice cream, and fashion. Her skincare routine is super minimalistic and so is her makeup!