What are the most effective resolutions you've ever made?
January 30, 2022 1:02 PM   Subscribe

New Year's type stuff. What resolutions have you made that hit the sweet spot between meaningful and achievable, such that you've actually followed them and they've improved your life?

To share mine: I resolved not to use my iPhone while horizontal. This has worked amazingly well. I don't limit phone usage in any way except that I need to have my head above my feet when I do it. I realized that most of my really detrimental phone usage, the kind of zoning out that makes me feel terrible about myself because I waste hours, happens when I'm lying down. And yet it has been easy to cut this out of my life because I simply don't need to do it.

What's the equivalent for you -- the most effective, well-framed, "achievement unlocked" resolutions you've made?
posted by artisthatithaca to Grab Bag (35 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
walk 10,000 steps a day. I had a few hiccups the first month but if I hit my steps tomorrow it'll be three years without a day missed!
posted by noloveforned at 1:08 PM on January 30, 2022 [15 favorites]

To only buy books I cannot get from a library (paper or electronic), no matter how long the wait. That was a couple of years back and it has massively cut down on acquisitions. The first year it was nearly 100% because I spent so much time working through their collections. I later amended the terms to add permission to buy books I'd read that way and truly loved enough to want to have in my home.
posted by teremala at 1:17 PM on January 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Daily flossing
posted by Sparky Buttons at 1:19 PM on January 30, 2022 [6 favorites]


I really like cpg Grey's video on this topic. Choose themes, not resolutions!
posted by bbqturtle at 1:31 PM on January 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Keeping a journal. Tracking expenses to the penny. Both had a more profound and wide-reaching impact than I ever would have thought.
posted by Grunyon at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

Do some sort of concerted work out every day.

When I started my two mantras were "something is better than nothing" and "you can squeeze in 10-20 minutes". I used the Peloton app on my phone and would just pick random things: 10 minute Hiit, 15 min bodyweight strength, 5 minute core. I would truly squeeze in the time to do this--I might put something in the oven for 30 minutes and do a 15 minute work out before dinner was ready. I stayed really focused on the fact that I was doing something, anything, rather than on how well I was doing at those things. I rarely stretched or warmed up, often I might be in my stinky clothes until I was able to get a chance to shower later in the day.

After almost two years I'm now the sort of person who consistently does 40+ minutes of workout at least 5 days a week, and I feel really strong and healthy (anecdotally, I have not lost a single pound, but I still think I look really good). A lot of aches and pains I used to have are minimized (lower back pain, for example, really waned once I started doing core workouts). I sleep well at night. I feel confident doing things like lifting luggage or other daily grind things without worrying about injuring myself.
posted by you'rerightyou'rerightiknowyou'reright at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2022 [18 favorites]

Best answer: I started with spending twenty minutes a day cleaning, then added five additional twenty-minute periods over the weekend. This gives me three hours of cleaning a week, which is way better than my old non-schedule and feels manageable. Since I am apparently eight years old, I put stickers on a calendar for each twenty-minute session (twenty minutes is how long I can clean without feeling overwhelmingly anxious). I've since added twenty minutes a day for writing, which is not enough, but it's where I need to start. I get stickers of animals, and a particular animal is used for a category - so I use penguins for cleaning and owls for writing. (Search term for small stickers is "chart stickers.") I like looking at all the stickers as the month progresses.

Also, I did a downsizing project of finding three things to get rid of every day for a year, which meant I got rid of over 1000 things. A "thing" could be a dining table, could be a shirt, could be a bangle bracelet - if it was something like paper clips or salt and pepper shakers, I'd count that as a group, but usually I just counted every individual thing even if it was small.
posted by FencingGal at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2022 [19 favorites]

A few years ago I made a resolution to do a 30-day Yoga With Adriene series in January. I had not been very active for a while and was feeling creaky and inflexible. I didn’t promise myself anything beyond the 30 days, so just sticking it out to the end of the month felt achievable even though it seemed hard at first. Once I got over the hump and got used to fitting it into my evening, the month was long enough to start seeing some real benefit in how I felt, and at the end of the month I ended up getting a membership to a nearby yoga studio and going regularly for the first time in years.

On preview: I also used a sticker calendar to keep on track through that first 30 day series :)
posted by somedaycatlady at 1:59 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Every time I pour myself a glass of water, I pour TWO instead. I double-fist water at every meal and while working. I don't really like water so this system is great because I wouldn't always get up to grab a second glass of water, but if it's at the table with me, I'll begrudgingly drink it when I clear the table. This system means more glasses to wash, but more water in me! It's a big win.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:05 PM on January 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

Last year, I started composting. It's really easy to do. I wish I had started earlier.

This year, I've decided to eat meat only once a day. So far, it's been pretty easy to hold to my decision.
posted by SPrintF at 2:12 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I managed to connect toothbrushing with putting on deodorant in my mind, by making a silly rhyming slogan about it and imagining an equally silly cartoon-like drawing. After a couple of weeks, it became a habit and now I consistently brush my teeth every morning. When I reach for the deodorant, that drawing pops into my mind.

My inspiration was a hand-drawn cartoon with rhyming slogan that I spotted on the wall in the flat of a friend, and which her then-boyfriend had made to help her remember to take her pill.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:13 PM on January 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

You got me looking through my journals, thanks for posting. Last year's most effective was "learn how to take a nap even more easily," which led to making my own meditation system that puts me out cold pretty fast. I picked this goal because my late afternoon & evening moods were night & day different in favor of napping, and I realized how much of an easy win it could be if I felt like I could conquer the naptime brain.

Another effective one was to make some specific speculative investments with...not a lot of money, but a reasonable amount given my budget. In fact I'm thinking of making that part of a yearly template for resolutions.

In 2020, some favorites were learning more about how to make areas stay clean (turns out what I wanted was 'uncluttered'), learning to wear sunscreen and protect my skin all the time in different ways (I was hiking a lot), and trying some nootropics.

Oh and learning how to yell at other drivers in Italian (windows up version these days) was a pretty fun one.
posted by circular at 2:15 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don’t even remember when I started doing it (it was years ago) but: flossing every day. Once I had gone for about 3 months without missing a day it felt weird not to do it.

In 2020 I told myself I would do Duolingo lessons daily for 6 months to refresh the language my grandmother spoke (I don’t hear it much any more and was starting to forget basic vocabulary). I did stick to it for exactly six months, only missing a handful of days. Even though I didn’t continue after those 6 months, I did a review quiz recently after a year had gone by, and I did recall quite a bit. I can tell I could easily pick it up again.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:43 PM on January 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Learned to play the guitar by planning to only practice 15 minutes a day, five out of seven days of a week. The 'only 15 minutes' thing made it seem like a small commitment. The 'five out of seven' gave me enough slack that I didn't beat myself up about missing a day or two.
posted by lpsguy at 3:09 PM on January 30, 2022 [8 favorites]

Eat more vegetables. For me that's meant keeping vegetables in the freezer, so if I have frozen beef w/ broccoli, I can add extra broccoli, and finding many new ways to eat vegetables, like sauteed cabbage, which is a bit bland but quick and easy.
posted by theora55 at 3:19 PM on January 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The only one I made and have kept for many years - and have shared with many others because it was such an impactful change - was never leaving any location to drive somewhere else if I have to pee. ALWAYS PEE FIRST.
posted by something something at 3:23 PM on January 30, 2022 [26 favorites]

The only resolution I've successfully kept for an entire year was to take a moment each day to bend my spine in all 6 basic directions. (My actual resolution was to remember the phrase "spinal health" each day, at which point I would do the bending.) I have no evidence that it improved my spine health, but the completion/accomplishment aspect was very rewarding, psychologically.
posted by unknowncommand at 3:44 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sitting around a table in a college dining room, I realized that my friends were dispensing opinions without much basis in wisdom or known facts. I made a snap decision to not give opinions on anything unless I had a solid basis

Fast forward about 10 years. I'm talking to a coworker who is describing her current family issue. (Her problems were typical for a young mother trying to ensure coverage for two kids with busy schedules. ) Abruptly, she says "hey, I'm asking for your opinion" and I realize I'm still honoring the decision from years before. I hadn't actually thought about it for a long time.

Another decision that affected me for a long time was due to my trouble with weight gain. I decided to not drink anything with calories in it. I kept that pretty strictly for a long time, and the notion still follows me around.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:47 PM on January 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

With lots of encouragement from my daughter, I gave up "social" media (facebook and instagram) starting Jan 1st. I set up a MetaFilter account several years ago but had not been active until this month—same with Reddit. These forums/platforms are so much better than those lifesuckerupper sites.
posted by Scout405 at 4:16 PM on January 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

I eat a fruit and nut bowl for breakfast (frozen blueberries thawed in the fridge, banana, handful of almonds and sometimes some dried fruit). I look forward to it everyday, it is good, filling, and this is key, whatever terrible food I might eat for the rest of the day I have had at least one decent meal. And if I don't have anything on hand for lunch, I might do a repeat maybe with some different nuts and chopped dark chocolate. Truly, it never gets old.
posted by nanook at 4:16 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

After moving to a new city, was having trouble plugging in to my community. My resolution was to try 4 cycling clubs that year. Totally worked, found great people. And it's had longer lasting effects (besides the friends and groups I found) - I'm much more likely to try any new group now, low commitment just try, and much more appreciative of them.
posted by Dashy at 4:29 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I quit smoking May 1, 1996. I told everyone I knew that I was going to do it, and I made a pact with my roommate at the time that he was going to do it at the same time (he wimped out.) But I did it and it only took 10 years or so before I stopped greedily hanging around smokers trying to suck up their nicotine leftovers.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:25 PM on January 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Two resolutions have been REALLY successful: one was to immediately drink a big glass of water when I wake up every day. The other resolution was to always remember to say 'thank you' to the bus driver as I exit the bus. I commute via public transit in a mid-size city. Extremely low stakes, but the tiny act of thanking someone for a service has become ingrained. It also cured me of lingering insecurity from a shy childhood when my voice was often inaudible to others. Sometimes it sets off a chain of people exiting after me also saying thanks to the driver.
posted by lizard music at 5:31 PM on January 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Check out a new cookbook from the library each month and make at least 3 recipes.
I like to read and cook, but rarely combine the two and frequently get stuck in a rut when it comes to meal planning. I've found a wealth of new favorites that are still in rotation months later. I also managed to work in more veggies and less meat, which was a goal that I wanted to work towards but not enough to make a plan around. I like to research the history and culture of each new book so I've learned a fair bit about things I would not have gooogled otherwise.
posted by shesaysgo at 6:33 PM on January 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

Not to argue with people online.
I realised that I dislike the way I become self righteous and rationalized the urge ("I might not change this person's mind but someone else might read my response and be influenced") That was a dishonest, because the true reason was to bolster my ego by lashing out at some stranger online.
I still get the urge, but learning to recognize that urge as coming from a not so great place helps me push it down and move on.
I still fail sometimes and get drawn into posting something I should just have moved on from.
posted by Zumbador at 7:46 PM on January 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I spent a year reading mostly classic literature (rereading stuff from high school, classics from other cultures). It was a great year of reading and literally the only new year's resolution I have ever kept.
posted by brookeb at 10:48 PM on January 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Writing a diary and reading a poem a day. Only started this year and have stuck with it very much (and look forward to that peaceful time!). The trick for me was to do it in the MORNING, not at night, as I am much more of a morning person. So I write what happened the day before, then read a poem (I'm just working through a Mary Oliver collection) and if I have any thoughts about the poem, I'll write them down too.

I have also started a brief meditation practice in the morning and evening, although that's only been in the last week. I feel like I can't do it at all (my thoughts race all over), but I'm hoping that will improve with practice. I am using the book: "Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World" and the downloads are here

I also resolved to turn my phone off/put it on aeroplane mode overnight, and not to switch it back to normal until after diary/poetry. That has worked very well so far although I still spend too much time on it. Really like the idea of non-horizontal use, thanks!

Good luck!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 3:28 AM on January 31, 2022

I'm a big SF&F fan and resolved to read all joint winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards. I just had a look at the list again and most of them are really incredible.
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 2:25 AM on February 1, 2022

Best answer: This year's slightly post-New-Year resolutions (I decided to try to set up some new habits when I went back to work after the Christmas break) might be a bit premature to mention, but they're making me feel better about life right now:

- start the day with Duolingo and a brisk walk in the countryside;
- don't open social media until the evening;
- don't read the news at all.

A surprise benefit has been that the combination seems to have given me the framework/time I needed to revive some pre-pandemic habits that fell by the wayside when I stopped commuting. (Keeping a daily journal, studying kanji, reading more books.) All of it put together is making me feel a lot more in control, and just generally a lot better.

Also, a bit niche but adding to the sense of being on top of things: I'm making a point of logging books in my database as soon as they enter the house, so that they can be shelved more or less where they belong, rather than being kept on a to-be-logged shelf or the kitchen table.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:25 AM on February 1, 2022

Whenever I walk into the house, the first thing I do is put my keys in their designated place. Immediately. Even if I'm planning to go back out ten minutes later.

I started doing this about 15 years ago and it quickly became something I "just did." A very easy habit to adopt. Not only do I never lose my keys, but there's a wonderful feeling knowing that I'm not causing myself the little stress of misplacing them.
posted by daikon at 4:05 PM on February 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Several years ago I resolved to not worry about things that are not my problem. This has freed up a huge amount of time for me.
posted by Joleta at 9:05 PM on February 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

I resolved to improve my posture—I decided every time I had to walk from the reference desk to the workroom of my library, I would check my posture and fix if needed. It really worked!
posted by exceptinsects at 8:05 PM on February 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

I have a job I love, but I am often so caught up in the day-to-day monotony that I find weeks and months go by where I’m in “tunnel vision” or survival mode, unable to think about big picture questions or long-term goals re: work or life as a whole.

So this New Year, I’ve been spending 10-20 minutes every day thinking about “the big picture”. Goals, priorities, vision. I use the Forest app as the timer (with a specific tree just for this!), and I write a few notes in my planner. The weekdays are often frenetic enough that 20 mins may be tough, but 10 mins is almost always possible.

I then go on to spend 10-20 minutes planning the coming day. It’s often tempting to start with this concrete stuff first before thinking about “the big picture”, but I force myself to keep this sequence of vision -> planning. I usually carve out these 20-40 minutes (total) at the beginning of the day (or sometimes at the end of the day).

I’ve already noticed a substantial change in how I’ve been going about my work and life. One of the most useful / doable NY’s resolutions I’ve stuck with in a long while.
posted by nemutdero at 5:04 PM on February 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

"I will not smoke this year".

Somehow, the thought of "I can have a cigarette on January 1st next year" made it *far* easier to have zero cigarettes, and if you've made it a year, they're once-again-awful if you pick one up again, so you pick one up, don't finish it, and have *actually* quit.
posted by talldean at 5:41 AM on February 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to report that I combined several bits of advice in this discussion to great effect. First, I wrote a silly poem and stuck it on the bathroom mirror:

If you have time
to sit and pee
then you can clean
the gross debris
from your teeth
so warped and yellow
making you a fine, fine fellow

I then purchased a $50 electric toothbrush with a two-minute timer and bluetooth app that shows me where I'm not brushing.

Then, because I am over fifty and urinating takes a while, I just started sitting down every morning on the toilet to urinate, and brushed my teeth while I sat there.

I went to the dentist two days ago for my six month checkup and they said my gums looked great, and that I had less tartar than average, which has never been the case in the past. So thanks all!
posted by mecran01 at 3:11 PM on May 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

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