Small New Year’s Resolutions That Can Have a Big Impact

Enjoy less stress in the new year with these achievable goals


Congrats! You made it through another year. Maybe you met some milestones? Fought some battles? Learned valuable lessons along the way? No matter how the past 12 months served you, you probably have some resolutions on your mind. And while the idea of a “new year, new you” can be empowering, it also brings on a lot of pressure that you might not be ready to take on just yet.

So here’s an idea—don’t do it. Don’t attempt to lose that winter weight in the next 30 days. Don’t determine to quit all of your vices on January 1.

Instead of attempting Everest-sized resolutions that feel impossible to commit to year-round, you can start with making a few minor modifications that could set you on the path to reaching your goals.

Here are 5 easily attainable New Year’s resolutions to consider:

Small moves

Set daily goals. Small successes in the short run can have a lasting positive impact on your outlook by providing a more frequent sense of accomplishment. They’re also a lot less daunting.

Often used in business, SMART goals are defined as those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Setting SMART goals in your everyday life can pack a big punch over the course of an entire year if you do it every day.

Throw leftover lunch money into a savings account every week and you’re that much closer to a picnic in Paris. Use a language learning app every night before bed and you could be fluent in French before you get there. Every day, choose something small to accomplish and just do it.

Make “you” time

Busy back-to-work and -school schedules make it even more difficult to focus on yourself. So take more time-outs.

Anywhere you can find a quiet place to be by yourself, have a seat and just chill. Maybe it’s during your lunch break or daily commute. Just promise to give yourself that time, and don’t break your promise.

Use it to make a gratitude list, listen to music, write in a journal…whatever brings you peace—give yourself more of that every day or at least a couple of times each week.

Ellyn Kaschak, Ph.D., says, “Getting to know yourself is perhaps one of the most important acts of a conscious human being.” This is not to say that spending time on a hobby is without purpose. Dr. Kaschak simply suggests that if a hobby exists only to fill up your time, then your time would be more meaningful if you spent it quietly with yourself. “Time is precious and should be respected…It is all we have, after all,” she says.

Adjust your diet (a little)

But you don’t have to change it altogether. There’s no need to overhaul your intake just because it’s a new year. You may consider just a few smart changes here and there that can easily make a difference. Add greens to your day. Commit to at least one glass of water with each meal. Add a daily multivitamin.

And remember that changing your diet can also be about changing your perspective. Don’t think of certain foods as off-limits. Give yourself some wiggle room, and allow yourself small indulgences. A good rule of thumb is to decide first how much you will actually enjoy the food you’re thinking about eating. Are you just trying to satisfy a sweet tooth? Go for a granola bar instead of a candy bar. On the other hand, if your aunt baked your favorite pie, then do yourself a favor and have a slice. Simply staying aware of what you are about to put in your mouth is an important part of making good choices.

Eat more meals with friends and family. Learn new recipes that excite you. Try to understand your cravings instead of giving into them. If you’re hungry, eat! Your body is simply trying to tell you something. Listen to it, and feel no remorse for eating what you crave every once in a while.

Park far away

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight. But if the thought of joining a gym upsets you because you worry you’ll never go, consider small alterations to your everyday activities. Consider not taking elevators and instead using the stairs. Park far away everywhere you go. Stand up more. Walk during your lunch break. If the distance is reasonable, walk instead of drive to your destination.

Little additions to your cardio activity can quickly elevate your mood and energy levels throughout the day, making it even more possible to make it to the gym (if you want to).

Change your dates

Happy hour is always fun! But why not change it up once a month for CrossFit or yoga? You don’t have to get a membership, and you might find something new you love—like swing dancing!

Take a group cooking class. Check out a foreign film. Find new ways to unwind with coworkers and friends that foster camaraderie and even more fun watercooler conversations.

Give yourself a break

There are thousands of minor modifications you could make that will yield big rewards. But if you do take on a larger task this year, remember that it’s OK to be human. Nobody’s perfect, and that’s perfectly OK.


We hope that you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.