The Case for Micro New Year’s Resolutions

As the end of the year gets closer, it’s always the same song and dance: “I’m going to learn [insert language]” or “I’m going to lose [insert number] pounds.” We pledge allegiance to big changes but by February, we still can’t say “Hello” in Mandarin and have long depleted the emergency stash of cookie dough.

Enough is enough. When did we decide bettering ourselves had to include suffering? That’s why this year, I’m thinking small and setting micro resolutions.

Why Micro Resolutions?

After the the past few years we’ve had, giving ourselves another monumental challenge just isn’t fair. Yes, you could vow to become a master baker in the new year, but do you really want to relive all of those quarantine bread making debacles? (If I close my eyes, I can still smell all of those ruined sourdough starters.)

A micro resolution is a smaller commitment that can still have a major impact. Making a small lifestyle change is better for your mental and physical health in the short term and you’re more likely to stick with it in the long term. Less pressure and fewer rules means we aren’t setting ourselves up for disappointment and lost sleep. It also makes it easier to actually celebrate our accomplishments. Because we should celebrate them.

10 Micro Resolutions to Consider

Ready to think small? Here are some ways to take a larger resolution and make it micro:

  1. Instead of overhauling your entire diet on day one, buy one new fruit or vegetable every time you go shopping. Check what’s in season and experiment with new recipes.
  2. Practice self care for 5-10 minutes a day (journaling, meditation, stretching, etc.). Starting with a smaller amount of time gives you room to build up as it becomes a habit.
  3. Love Marie Kondo, but imagining all of my possessions in a pile on the floor does not spark joy. Aim to reorganize one room or area of your home per season.
  4. Be mindful of purchases, but rather than punishing yourself for that morning muffin, set up an auto-deposit for your savings account and let it grow on its own.
  5. Sign up for a class with a set schedule instead of trying to learn something new on your own. An expert’s guidance can help you keep your expectations in check.
  6. Set a minutes, not miles, goal for walking, jogging or running. Because some days, a mile takes twice as long as it did the day before.
  7. Pick a number of hours to read each month, not a number of books. You may smash that goal during one rainy weekend or find you can carve out a little time each night.
  8. Traveling can be overwhelming and costly, instead opt for a smaller staycation. Be a tourist in your own town and support local businesses.
  9. If committing to a regular volunteer shift is too much but you want to give back, choose one charity (or more if you can) and schedule recurring donations.
  10. Send one postcard with a short message each week. The small space means you don’t have to write a novella, plus you’ll likely make the recipient’s day when they get it.

A Kindness Reminder

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s to be kinder to ourselves. Life is unpredictable and if we aren’t taking care of our mental and emotional wellbeing, the unexpected shifts can start to feel like earthquakes. 

Maybe this micro resolution will be a success. Maybe after giving it a good try, you realize it doesn’t serve you. That’s fine! No offense to Bridget Jones or Cher Horowitz, but a makeover doesn’t solve everything. Be patient with yourself and know that just trying something new is personal growth and can lead you toward a better solution.

What would your micro resolution be? Let me know in the comments.