50 New Year's Resolution Ideas for a Fulfilling 2020

Updated 12/07/19

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While resolving to do better next year by cutting back on this, quitting that, and promising yourself you'll be more affable can seem hollow and passé come March or April, when work is killing you, patience is running thin, and life is simply running its course.

But common New Year’s resolution ideas include paying it forward, engaging in self-care, and even small (but mighty) things, such as practicing daily gratitude and decluttering. And they needn't necessarily be activity-based; goals can range from those that inspire happiness to the professional, highly personal, and everything in between.

We’ve put together a list of 50 New Year’s resolutions that you can pick up, put down, and reengage in anytime you feel the urge. Plus, they'll inspire you to live your best life while looking forward to the year ahead. By choosing to complete one (or more) of these intentions, you're officially well on your way to furthering your own happiness and fulfillment.

A woman in a striped shirt in sunglasses carrying vegetables in a tote and practicing me time.
We the People

Carve Out Me Time

This could mean taking singing classes to get over the fear of performing in front of others, for example. Especially if you feel like you have tons of commitments that aren’t always for you, carve out some solid "me" time in the year ahead by trying a new hobby—or resurrecting an old one—such as cooking, making art, or reading a good book.

Three girlfriends walking in Brooklyn.
Brooke Pfier / Getty Images 

Make New Friends

Okay, we admit that it's not always easy to make new friends (especially in your 30s), but there’s no reason to stop trying. Join a local social group on Meetup, or volunteer your time to an organization in need—others may also be trying to meet new people, too, which can alleviate some of the pressure.

A woman working on a laptop in a coffee shop.
Tom Werner / Getty Images

Create A Budget

While coming up with a budget isn't necessarily the most fun thing to do (unless you're a numbers person), not knowing where your cash has gone, and being unable to cover your monthly expenses, is even less so. Use an online management tool or app, such as Mint and Clarity Money, or use a spreadsheet template to help set short- and long-term goals. Budgeting for social gatherings and incidentals (unexpected dinners out, new clothes, a locksmith's visit) means you won't have to change old habits too much.

A woman sitting on a sofa creating a budget on her laptop.
@gerihirsch

Foster New Work

Even if you’re not looking for a new job right now, it’s still wise to keep sharp in case you see a posting that interests you. Revisit old profile pics and update them, edit and add skills to your résumé, network, subscribe to job alerts, and create an online folder where everything job-related is kept in one place. Keep your professional standing in good health now, and be well prepared to nail any job application and interview.

A clean, uncluttered home office.
@brooketestoni

Declutter

A clean home is a happy home; quell anxiety, overwhelm, and stress by tidying up and decluttering everything around you. Tackle the refrigerator, cabinets, and messy drawers, desks, and closets. Toss everything you haven't used in six months, donate what you don't love or need, and get ready to celebrate the new year with new clarity and peace of mind.

A woman engaging in stress relief by closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.
@claire_most

Manage Stress

If left unchecked, stress and anxiety can go unnoticed for some time, and later manifest themselves in physical and emotional ways. Instead of waiting for them to rear their ugly heads, learn stress management and reduction techniques now. Some meditate, others practice yoga, and many exercise to combat stress.

A woman smiling and looking happy while sitting in a rope chair.
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images 

Be Happy

Many people spend a good portion of their lives saying, “I’ll be happy when...” Don't wait to be, or get, happy. Instead, keep healthy habits, focus on staying positive, practice gratitude, and let go of too-stringent or unattainable ambitions while acknowledging there may still be achievable goals you'd like to attain during the upcoming year.

A woman catching up while talking on the phone.
Christian Vierig / Getty Images

Catch Up With Family

Take time to appreciate loved ones via a simple phone call, even if they live just down the street. Check in with those close to you, especially older relatives, if only to say you love them and are grateful for their presence in your life. Not only will it make a sister's, grandparents', or cousin's day, strong family ties contribute to happiness and physical health. 

A woman relaxing on the edge of a bathtub while looking out the window..
Deborah Jaffe / Getty Images

Stop The FOMO

Social media, huge event calendars, and self-imposed guilt only add to one's FOMO, aka Fear of Missing Out. But who wants to start the year off feeling miserable, less connected to others, and stressed out? This year, look within and realize that while there's always something going on, you can't do everything and be everywhere all the time. (How exhausting.) Take some "me" time to relax and recharge instead of dragging yourself out to a rager for the fourth time this week. Or, if you're too good at saying no, start saying yes to people who ask you to do things—even if you don't think you'll have fun.

A group of four women who are friends.
@scoutthecity 

Nurture True Friendships

Having many acquaintances is nice until you realize that a super-small portion of them will have your back through thick and thin. Resolve to spend your precious energy on, and free time with, only those you care most deeply about—and those who reciprocate. True friendships are about quality, not quantity.

A man and woman sharing a glass of wine and nurturing their relationship.
@_hollyt

Relish Your S.O.

It's a worthwhile New Year's resolution that keeps on giving all year long. (Sending love notes works, too) Reserve time on your calendar for several date nights per month—and don't be too attached to what you wind up doing. Remember that staying home can be just as good (if not better) than going out.

A woman standing on a chair, cleaning out her cabinets, and donating items to charity.
Because I'm Addicted

Give Back

Whether you give back once or repeatedly, taking time to volunteer, practicing random acts of kindness, and donating to charity organizations empowers us and opens us up to new experiences and opportunities. Research viable non-profits that align with skills and/or your spirit of giving, and plan to pay it forward, this year and the next.

A woman standing on a bridge and sightseeing while on a trip abroad.
@margoandme

Satisfy Your Wanderlust

Stop waiting for the "perfect time" to take a trip. Pick a destination and get there in the year ahead. Whether it’s a staycation, solo excursion, girls’ trip, or romantic getaway, you’ll come back refreshed and toting meaningful memories you won't soon forget.

A pregnant woman getting weighed by her doctor.
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc. / Getty Images

Prioritize Health

This year, make health a priority: Grab a calendar and schedule doctor's appointments—including a physical, pap smear, dermatologist's visit—and at least two teeth cleanings. Need help finding a specialist? Zocdoc helps you find doctors within your health plan, book (and stay on top of) appointments, submit insurance claims, and fill prescriptions.

A woman typing on a computer and taking care of her side hustle.
@babba.c

Find A Side Hustle

Whether it’s to earn extra cash or to follow a passion that your day job doesn't satisfy, taking a second job, aka side hustle, could be a great way to indulge your deeper, more fulfilling interests. At the very least, you’ll learn more about work/life balance and develop some pretty major time management skills.

A woman visiting an art museum to get some culture.
@linaose 

Seek Culture

Troll museum and gallery websites to learn about upcoming art exhibitions, score tickets to a play or ballet, take in an orchestral performance, and over the course of next year, teach yourself to appreciate the finer things in life. Cultural activities inspire creativity and teach you open-mindedness and tolerance—something we all can get behind.

A woman shunning social media by reading a newspaper instead of using her smart phone.
@gerihirsch

Shun Social Media

Too much social media can be a bad thing—especially when you start comparing your real life to someone’s seemingly picture-perfect online life. So plan to take a step back this upcoming year, whether spending a day (or more) social media-free or simply reducing the number of times you check your apps in any one day.

A woman hanging up clothes in a laundry room.
Because I'm Addicted

End Procrastination

Mark Twain had it right when he opined, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today." Begin by taking a few minutes to make a list of the things you were going to do tomorrow—and yes, do at least one of those things today. And start imagining how you'll feel if you actually tackled all the stuff you've been putting off. Make a New Year's resolution to stop procrastinating, whether it's vowing to have those conversations you've been avoiding, doing laundry on a more regular basis, or clearing your email inbox.

A woman closing her eyes and smiling to show gratitude.
@sabinasocol

Be Thankful

All successful people practice gratitude to feel healthier, happier, and more at peace with themselves—and they do so daily. Fostering gratitude means writing down a few things you're thankful for—and why. You could also begin your days by vocalizing what you’re grateful for or meditate on your gratitudes in silence. Cultivating this habit in the new year can even help you sleep better and be kinder to others, according to The New York Times writer, John Tierney, who researched the "attitude of gratitude," back in 2011.

Two women sitting at a table, smiling, and being kind to one another.
@aninebing 

Spread Kindness

There's actually scientific evidence that being kind makes you feel calmer, healthier, and happier—and it's also contagious. Make the world a better place by resolving to do one kind thing (or more!) for a stranger every day or month. Random acts of kindness can include buying coffee for the person waiting in line behind you or paying someone a nice compliment. To help make it a daily practice, download a free Kindness Calendar from RandomActsofKindness.org, a nonprofit that invests its resources into making kindness the norm in schools, workplaces, and beyond.

A woman in workout gear holding a basketball.
@scouthecity

Try A New Workout

Getting stuck in an exercise rut can be the reason we stop making it a regular part of our lives. This upcoming year, make it a habit to try a new routine at the gym or one you’ve seen on ClassPass. Worst-case scenario? You didn’t love it—but you still got your heart rate up.

A woman tucking her hair behind her right ear with her eyes closed and smiling.
@waityouneedthis

Accept Change

In life, change is one of the only constants. Learning to accept it can be difficult, especially if you're change-averse. Remember that change is what allows us to grow and become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Make a resolution to embrace the unknown and think more positively about any changes that occur.

A woman sitting in a chair and recording important dates.
Reggie Casagrande / Getty Images

Remember Important Dates

Have you ever found yourself saying, "I'm awful at remembering birthdays"? If so, make a concerted effort to acknowledge other peoples' milestones as you would your own. Anniversaries, promotions, births—anything you yourself would celebrate—are all fair game. Record special dates inside the free Google Calendar and Countdown+ Event Reminders Lite apps. Once you're reminded, call, send a sweet text, or mail a card. (And yes, there are apps that even do that for you, too.)

Several glass milk bottles filled with fruit-infused water.
Westend61 / Getty Images

Drink More Water

Healthy adult females and males should drink roughly 11 cups and 13 cups, respectively, of water every day. If you're way under this amount (congrats if you're already on track), start drinking more water in the new year. If you’re not a huge fan of plain H20, infuse it with cucumber and/or fruits and herbs for added health benefits and great taste.

A woman being productive by reading the Paris Review.
@honeynsilk

Live Productively

There are only 24 hours in a day, so spend the new year maximizing the number of things you're able to get done: Work on developing your time management skills, research productivity hacks and apps, and turn off that phone.

A woman treating herself kindly by sleeping in with an eye mask that says
@waityouneedthis

Treat Yourself Kindly

Mistakes and bad days are both inevitable. If you find you're apt to browbeat, rather than show yourself kindness, spend the next year working to reverse this negative habit—it only breeds anxiety and depression. Practicing mindfulness, regular exercise, healthy eating, and ample sleep all help to foster self-compassion.

A woman writing new year's resolutions in a notebook.
Because I'm Addicted

Dream Bigger

Reflect on your current dreams and aspirations. Now ask yourself if they're truly as big as they can be. Create your next, positive life phase by training yourself to think beyond what you imagine you can achieve. Cast doubt aside, concentrate only on what you love and that which makes you most fulfilled, and open yourself up to new possibilities in the coming year.

A woman meditating on a couch with her legs folded and eyes closed.
@brooketestoni

Start Meditating

Meditating has nothing to do with religion or philosophy and everything to do with cultivating a healthy mindset and reducing stress. And experts say meditation is a lifesaver, especially when you're undergoing trying times. Start the new year off right by setting time aside to meditate each day; apps like Headspace, Calm, and Buddhify can help.

A woman cooking and entertaining friends.
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Cook

While takeout is super-convenient, it's not that affordable or healthy. Cooking meals yourself means you'll know exactly what's in them, and whether ingredients are fresh (and healthful). Make a New Year's resolution to cook more, or learn how, and save some major cash in the process.

A woman looking in the mirror while using skincare products.
@brooketestoni

Follow A Skincare Routine

Glowy skin doesn't just appear overnight—it's the result of years of proper care. This year, work with a dermatologist or skin expert to create a custom skincare routine—or identify your skin type and find the products that work best.

A woman facing her fear of heights while standing on the edge of a cliff.
baona / Getty Images

Conquer A Fear

What things do you typically avoid like the plague? Whether you loathe speaking in public, detest snakes and spiders, or you're scared of some imaginary tragedy that has yet to happen, fear isn't something to hold onto—especially since it will always return and prevent you from living your best life. This year, resolve to face fear head-on and release yourself from its choking grasp.

A woman showing compassion for a friend.
Dan Kenyon / Getty Images 

Cultivate Compassion

We never really know what’s going on in someone else's life. So before you get mad at a friend for canceling plans or mutter under your breath when a stranger does something to annoy you, teach yourself to pause and summon some compassion before huffing and puffing. (And remember that it's probably not about you.)

A woman sitting in a chair while reading a book.
@lucywilliams02

Read

For adults, reading books is crucial to our self-development. But whenever we get busy, that good book is often the first thing we neglect in favor of more pressing tasks. This year, make a list of your must-read titles—and vow to finish them all. And speaking of reading...

A woman going to work while listening to an audiobook.
Melodie Jeng / Getty Images​

Commute Productively

If you're lucky enough to work from home, congrats. But if you're like the rest of the U.S. workforce, you're spending an average of 4.35 hours a week and over 200 hours (that's nearly nine whole days) a year commuting to and from work. Instead of letting precious time go to waste, listen to audiobooks and podcasts to boost your productivity while improving your overall experience.

Two stylish friends who look as though their minds are made up.
@nennaechem

Become More Decisive

Nobody's perfect, and not every decision can be, either. This year, stop over-analyzing everything. Instead, commit to end the habit of indecision and spend less time second-guessing yourself.

A man being playful, and carrying a woman piggyback style while her hands are over his eyes.
@littleblackboots

Channel Your Inner Child

Playfulness is grossly underrated. Especially if you have a particularly draining day job, resolve to make time for play. Adults who play games better maintain their social well being, hone their cognitive functions, and even keep platonic and romantic partnerships healthier than those that don't regularly engage in fun activities.

A woman walking briskly and getting her steps in.
Edward Berthelot / Getty Images

Maintain Movement

Keeping it moving doesn't necessarily mean you have to sweat through a high-intensity Tabata workout (but that works, too). Rather, it simply suggests one should be mobile—not sedentary—to get that blood flowing every single day. Moving your body on a daily basis boosts endurance and cardiovascular health, and is even great for your mind. Next year, vow to increase movement by walking rather than driving somewhere, for example, and try to hit 10,000 steps a day. Bottom line: Increase your physical activity and you'll experience obvious health benefits.

A woman in a large bed enjoying the restful night's sleep she just had.
@juliamateian

Sleep Better

It’s not just how long you sleep but also the quality of your rest. Vow to develop better sleep hygiene so the z’s you catch aren't hindering your health but duly preparing you for the day ahead.

A woman with arms outstretched celebrating freedom from a vice.
Jeremy Moeller / Getty Images

Give Up A Vice

While smoking, drinking, and eating to excess are the usual suspects, other bad habits (running from your problems, self-sabotaging, constant worrying) can fly under the radar, and rob you of your happiness just the same. Resolve to carve out time to identify and understand your bad habits, whatever they are, and finally break them for good.

An overhead view of someone dining out alone while working and reading.
LeoPatrizi / Getty Images 

Fly Solo

Although humans are social beings, learning to be, and do things, alone isn't always second-nature. It's perfectly okay to keep yourself company and forego socializing to get familiar with numero uno. Flying solo, whether it's to see a movie, dine out, or go on vacation, helps build independence and self-confidence. This year, try forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and do something you wouldn't normally do without your squad in tow.

A woman caring for her potted plants.
Emilija Manevska / Getty Images

Care For Something

Sure, we all need to practice self-care to live our best lives, but what about nurturing something other than yourself? If you're not currently the parent of a plant, pet, or some other living thing, then spend the upcoming year trying it out. A 2016 study revealed that taking care of pets, for example, decreases anxiety, promotes a sense of safety, and increases confidence. According to Psychology Today, certain houseplants, too, have been shown to improve well-being, raise productivity, and lower blood pressure.

Two women walking on the street while catching up with one another.
@shionat

Keep In Touch

These days, not everyone stays in the same place for long. When friends and loved ones move to faraway places, or even relatively nearby, it can be unsettling and sad. During the next year, especially if you're due for a catch-up, make better efforts to stay in touch. Now, modern technology (Talky, Viber, Skype, and WhatsApp) makes it easy to video chat one-on-one to simulate an "I'm just next door" feeling.

A woman sitting on a rooftop while kicking up one leg and smiling.
@margoandme

Stay Present

According to a 2010 study by Harvard University, we spend nearly half of our lives not living in the present moment. (Obviously, being present can be a herculean task for even the most woke individuals.) So resolve to slow down this year, practice mindfulness, and go easy on the multitasking, or you could miss some amazing things happening right in front of you.

A woman hugging a globe as if to say the whole world is in her hands.
Ilka & Franz / Getty Images 

Develop An Abundance Mindset

Too often, life becomes a "keeping up with the Joneses" race to the finish. But why put yourself under undue pressure? Vow to switch your current state of scarcity to one of abundance. Here's what we mean:

In Steven R. Covey's 1989 book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," the author talks about "abundance mentality" (believing there is plenty for everyone), which is contrasted with "scarcity" (everyone's fighting over what they need). Developing a sense of abundance enables us to feel plentiful, creative, and inspired—rather than angry, overwhelmed, and powerless.

A woman with her arms crossed looking impatient.
Christian Vierig / Getty Images

Learn Patience

Yes, patience is a virtue, but it's one that can be notoriously difficult to foster and maintain, but science says that waiting for things only makes us happier. So take the next year to learn how to be patient with yourself and others. For starters, work to identify your triggers, know why they make you impatient, and practice some deep breathing.

Two friends happily walking and chatting.
Christian Vierig / Getty Images

Quit Apologizing

A lot of us (women especially) have the habit of apologizing for passively uttering "I'm sorry," even when we haven't made an error and/or when things aren't our fault. This year, learn to save your sorry's for when they’re absolutely necessary—and for whenever you really mean it.

A woman speaking on the phone smiling and looking optimistic.
Westend61 / Getty Images 

Practice Optimism

Pessimism is so over; Make a New Year's resolution to always see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you're not particularly good at being optimistic, whether due to inherited pessimism (yes, it's a thing), past hurts, or just a general malaise regarding the future, then good news: You can actually train your brain to adopt a "glass-half-full" outlook to better cope during, and after, times of hardship.

A woman sitting on a desk in front of fashion clippings.
@aninebing

Get Yourself Seen

The existential concept of "being seen" basically enables one to harness the vulnerability in exposing our true selves to others in order to foster greater self-confidence. Shed that hard outer shell and instead, try letting friends and loved ones "in" by sharing intimate (not necessarily painful, although that's allowed) details of your life. You'll be surprised to find that many others have had the same experiences, and in turn, they'll feel comfortable sharing more of themselves with you, too.

Someone loving themself and hugging two pillows with heart shapes on them.
Catherine Ledner / Getty Images 

Love Yourself Unconditionally

Loving yourself just as you are, without restrictions (and not for who you will become one day) is challenging for most people. Resolve to love yourself this year and beyond, by practicing self-care, healing old wounds, exiting toxic relationships, forgiving yourself for mistakes and indiscretions (perceived or otherwise), and accepting yourself in the here and now.

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