While 2020 was undoubtedly one of the toughest years we’ve faced in recent memory, you can’t deny that it was also a year of life lessons. We trudged through social isolation, uncertainty, and worry. There was grief and disappointment, but we also saw communities come together and had time to reflect on what things truly matter. As we move forward into the new year, we have an opportunity to start fresh. Instead of those typical resolutions that always seem to fail by February, this list is full of simple experiences and actions that will positively impact your life in 2021.
1. Start a gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is a simple on-going list of things you’re thankful for. When you’re feeling sad or stressed, choose instead to write down three things you’re grateful for. Changing your perspective and focusing on the good is amazing for your mood and mental health.
2. Make one decision to live more sustainably.
You don’t need to ditch your 21st century comforts and live off the grid to do your part to save the planet by taking small, realistic steps toward sustainability. You could stop buying single-use plastics like paper plates or plastic water bottles. Or you could start using a reusable k-cup instead of going through dozens of little plastic pods a week.
3. Delete one social media app.
This one sounds a little crazy, but you have to admit that our lives can sometimes revolve around social media. And that’s not always a good thing. You’ll have more time to be productive and be more connected to your own life if you delete at least one app whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok.
4. Do something fun on a weekday.
Who said you have to save your fun for the weekends? You’ll break up the monotony of the work week by planning a date night or fun activity for Monday-Thursday.
5. Eat vegetarian for a full week.
It’s been proven that animal consumption is a huge contributor to climate change. You don’t have to go full vegan in 2021 if you don’t want, but committing yourself to more vegetarian meals is a way to help the planet. Not to mention, cutting out meat can positively impact both your health and your weekly grocery budget. Meat is expensive!
6. Give up a vice for 30 days.
Quitting cold turkey isn’t usually realistic. But setting a reasonable goal can help you improve and make change. Give up sweets, eating out, or your need to get an iced coffee every time you leave the house.
7. Start a garden.
Gardening is relaxing and rewarding. It’s a fun, sustainable hobby that anyone can do. Set up a small garden in the yard or place some pots by the window in your apartment. Let 2021 be the year of fresh vegetables.
Helping others is one of the best ways to put yourself in a good mood. Find something you enjoy and volunteer your time and energy to the greater good. It could be doing maintenance at a local park, walking shelter dogs, or cooking at a food kitchen.
9. Explore your hometown.
Traveling is still hard right now, but you don’t have to go far to find new experiences. There is plenty to do right in your hometown. Think outside the box and visit the places you’ve never explored before. Plan a staycation and take time to really indulge in your local culture.
10. Cook a fancy meal for someone special to you.
There’s something immensely satisfying about cooking a full meal and enjoying it with someone you love. Try making a three-course meal at home to practice your culinary skills and spoil that special someone.
11. Create art.
Expressing your creativity can be extremely cathartic. The best part is, there are so many different forms of art to try out. Even if you’re not great at drawing or painting, try something like pottery, photography, or woodworking.
12. Support a local business.
Last year was hard for so many local businesses. You can show your continued support into 2021 by choosing a local shop over a big box store or purchasing a few gift cards and passing them out to friends.
13. Take a free online class.
Have you ever wanted to explore a topic or learn a special skill? Now is the time to do it. There are online classes for just about everything. Learn a new language, learn about Greek mythology, or learn more about astrology. Choose something you’ll truly enjoy.
14. Give a stranger a compliment.
You might feel awkward at first, but then you realize that single compliment could make someone’s entire day. If you’re feeling a person’s outfit or really like their tattoo, don’t be shy. Let them know!
15. Learn how to knit/crochet/embroider or something equally crafty.
It’s always a good idea to learn a new crafty skill. Knitting and crocheting is a relaxing activity. And when you’re done, you’ll end up with a cool handmade scarf or whatever else you decide to make.
16. Write hand-written letters to friends you don’t see often.
Text messages are good, but there’s something truly special about receiving a handwritten letter. The letters don’t have to be long. A simple note letting someone know you’re thinking about them in 2021 will always be appreciated.
17. Spend a day catching up on sleep and relaxation.
Productivity is all well and good, but burn out is a real thing. Everyone needs a good break now and then. There’s nothing wrong with taking a day to recharge.
18. Purge your house of things you don’t use or need and donate them.
A fresh new year deserves a fresh, less cluttered home. Go from room to room and sort through the things you no longer need or haven’t used in the past six months. When you’re done, you can either donate your items to a charity or start selling.
19. Complete a small home improvement project.
When you’re finished purging your house, look around and pick out a small home improvement project you can complete in a weekend. Improving your personal space and making it feel more like home will also put your mind in the right place.
20. Try meditation.
It’s true that meditation isn’t for everyone. But how do you know if you don’t try? 2021 might just introduce you to a rewarding new hobby,
21. Read an inspirational book.
Give Netflix and Facebook a break and pick up a book instead. It doesn’t have to be a 500-page explanation on the meaning of life. Go with something that inspires and brings you joy. A good book is never a waste of time.
Feel free to add to this list to set yourself up for a rewarding 2021!