pink notebook with empty checklist, glasses, and pen
April 26, 2019

Why You Should Skip New Year’s Resolutions and Set Monthly Challenges Instead

We do it to ourselves every year. Before the clocks strike midnight and the ball is dropped in Times Square, we set about listing what we plan to give up, take up or achieve in the year to come.

And, deep down, we know we’re just setting ourselves up for failure. Perhaps it’s the pressure; perhaps it’s just that January is typically one of the dreariest months of the year. But really, no one actually keeps their New Year’s resolutions (do they?).

A healthier, and more realistic, strategy is to set yourself monthly goals or challenges instead. More manageable, less stressful, and far more likely to succeed. Doesn’t that sound better?

Make something

Fancy taking a pottery class, painting a landscape, or putting your knitting skills to good use? Set a goal to have a finished item once the month is up. This is a great way to learn new skills or resume a passion project that got stuck on the back-burner because, you know, life.

Set aside the excuses and give yourself a month to finish knitting that sweater or painting that masterpiece. It could be the push you need.

Give yourself an hour a day

Promise yourself that, for at least 30 days, you’ll set aside a little time to do something just for you. Whether it’s curling up with a book or glossy magazine, dancing around the room to your fave tunes, or finally trying that mindfulness app, giving yourself a little space can make a huge difference. Consider it a month-long challenge. We bet you’ll want to carry it on for longer.

Get through a classic

Forget unrealistic goals like reading an entire literary canon within a year. Pick one classic tome you’ve been meaning to read forever and vow to turn the last page by the end of the month. Think how smug you’ll feel (and how much smarter).

Been meaning to finish Ulysses/Les Misérables/War and Peace for years? See if you can do it in 30 days.

Do something new, every day

For (you guessed it) one month, do something different. This could be as simple as varying your jogging route, walking instead of taking the bus, or getting your coffee from a new place. You can always go back to your old routine, but you may just discover some beautiful surprises.

Run a mile

If you’ve vowed to get fitter every year since dot, we understand. But you can manage a mile a day, right? And you don’t have to run, of course, if that’s not your bag. It could be walking a mile a day, cycling for five miles a day, or just doing 10 minutes of yoga each evening. A month should be enough time to get you totally hooked.

Instead of piling on the pressure to get super-fit, decide to jog, walk or cycle just a little bit every day. Who knows? After a month, it could be your new favorite pastime.

Be anti-social

Or, in fact, more social—in real life. If you’re one of many people who’ve been wondering whether to unfriend Facebook or take a time-out from Twitter, setting yourself a challenge to live without social media for a month is a good solution. It should be manageable, and by the end of it, you can decide whether to shut your accounts, or just spend less time glued to those feeds.

Explore like a tourist

Isn’t it embarrassing when friends or relatives visit and see more in a single weekend than you ever have? It’s easy to take where you live for granted, even if it’s the type of place that tourists flock to (New Yorkers, we’re looking at you). Decide that, for one month, you’ll set aside at least a couple of days a week to see your city or town through different eyes—visitors’ eyes. Do all of those big, “touristy” things you’ve never quite gotten around to, use apps to find hidden attractions, book a table at the hottest restaurant, and go see a theater show or play. And hop in a Zipcar to visit some of those out-of-town places and shopping outlets everyone raves about. It will give you a fresh perspective, and a new love of where you live.

Fall in love with your city again by doing the “touristy” stuff.