7 Rewarding Resolutions to Make This Year

Every year, thousands of people set New Year’s resolutions to stop doing things: Stop eating fried foods. Stop watching TV. Stop drinking so much beer. But, really, how long do they stick? When your resolutions aren’t enjoyable and only focus on what you can’t do (diet is a four-letter word, after all), they might not last very long at all.

But don’t let that stop you from changing your life! Instead of making negative resolutions that probably won’t stick, commit to making positive and uplifting changes that will improve your life immediately—changes that you’ll want to make! Read on for seven resolutions that are guaranteed to inspire success and help you to be your best self!

1. Renew a Childhood Passion
Remember when you were a kid and couldn’t wait to run and play during recess? Or maybe you loved art class and couldn’t give your mom enough crayon drawings. Perhaps you adored music class, so you spent hours practicing the lyrics and notes. No matter what it was, all of us did something as a child that we just adored. Take this new year to renew that childhood passion and fall in love with it all over again. Don’t limit yourself to elementary school activities—if you loved photography class or English composition in high school, start snapping photos or dust off your journal!

Where to begin: Buy a book on the subject or hobby you love and/or sign up for a class at a local community college or community center to reignite your childhood passion!

2. Get Organized
You know how you feel when your house is freshly cleaned. Everything is put away in its place, the dishes are done, the laundry is neatly folded—it feels great, right? Commit to making organization a priority in the new year, so you have that great organized feeling more often than not. Whether it’s going through the basement, a closet or a junk drawer, having a home that is organized can make you feel lighter and less anxious.

Where to begin: Mark specific organization days on your calendar where you tackle a larger project such as a closet or room, or set a 15-minute timer a few times a week for smaller projects such as a cabinet or drawer. Be sure to give yourself a reward like a hot bath, a new house decoration, a fun magazine or some other “me time” activity once you have a new area organized.

3. Learn How to Play an Instrument
Learn how to make beautiful music this year! Whether you played the piano in high school and are ready to reacquaint yourself with its keys or bought a guitar years ago but never learned how to play, playing an instrument is an incredibly rewarding hobby that can be both creative and stimulating for the brain. (Not to mention that you earn serious cool points with your friends when you bust out your musical skills at the next party.)

Where to begin: Go to a local music store that offers lessons or surf the Internet to get started. There are tons of free resources on how to play any instrument (here’s just one example). If you’re musically challenged but still want to feel like a musician, try to master a musical video game like Rock Band or Guitar Hero.

4. Learn to Say No
Saying no may seem hard to do, but with practice these two little letters become easier and easier to say. And vowing to say them more often—when you’re faced with something that you really don’t want to do or don’t have time for—can be completely liberating. With practice saying n-o, you can have more time for you!

Where to begin: Pick one activity you feel obligated to do but don’t like doing, such as going to a the birthday party of a co-worker's child or your four-times-removed cousin’s annual holiday party, and tell them “No, I cannot make it.” You may feel guilty at first, but stay firm but polite. With practice, saying no becomes easier and easier. (And no this doesn’t apply to some things that we all dislike but have to do like going to the dentist or paying our taxes.)

5. Take Up a New Sport
There’s nothing more rewarding than learning a new skill, especially one that is good for your body. Resolve to learn how to play a new sport. Be it softball, tennis, golf, soccer, or basketball, there are so many options from which to choose! Taking up a new sport is a good way to re-motivate yourself, especially if you’re in a workout rut. And if traditional team sports aren’t your forte, try fun throwback sports such as kickball and dodgeball. No matter what you choose, you’re likely to make new friends, get fit, learn new skills, and, if you have kids, have a new activity to do with them!

Where to begin: Sign up for individual or group lessons if they’re offered in your community. Or, if it’s a team sport you want to learn, grab a few buds and sign up for an intramural league! Many cities offer both competitive and fun leagues for all levels.

6. Volunteer for a Cause
Instead of focusing solely on you this year, do more for those who are less fortunate. By committing to volunteer weekly, monthly or yearly, you can give back to your community and make a difference in the lives of others. You can even grab a friend and volunteer for a cause that you believe that you both believe in. I guarantee that even though you won’t be doing something directly for yourself, you’ll definitely reap the positive benefits of helping others.

Where to begin: Find a cause that you’re passionate about. Whether it’s raising money to find a cure for cancer, helping the homeless or tutoring young people, find a charity that you believe in and call them to see what you can do to help!

7. Dream Often
When we’re young, we had a different dream for each day of the week. When we get older, many of us stop dreaming. Use the new year as a chance to sit down and think about your dreams. Is it running a marathon? Changing careers? Going back to school? Dream away—nothing is off limits.

Where to begin: Grab a bunch of old magazines and cut out images that speak to you or represent goals you want to achieve. Create a poster with these images as your New Year’s Dream Board. Hang your dream board somewhere you’ll see it every day, and resolve to focus on it at least for a few minutes each day. You might even be amazed at how quickly you reach your goals, just by seeing this reminder every day!

Happy New Year! For more tips on setting resolutions, check out SparkPeople’s New Year's Resolution Survival Guide.