When January 1 comes around, we'll vow to cut calories, exercise more, and give up our vice of choice — but we often fail before the year is halfway through. With 2014 fast approaching, let's commit to making changes within ourselves and our communities that can have a real, lasting impacts. Taking small steps everyday can lead to greater fulfillment over the course of the year.
These are 10 resolutions to get millennials thinking about ways to make 2014 their best year yet:
The average 20-something is getting weighed down by student debt, struggling to find a meaningful career in a bleak job market, and trying to balance the pressures of young adulthood with the quest for personal fulfilment. It's a lot to take on — and as a result, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. This year, take the time to do something that gives you a bit of peace of mind, even if it's just for a few hours on your day off.
2. Be more helpful
We all know that giving makes us happier, so why don't we do more of it? It's hard to find time to volunteer when we're focusing on building our own lives, but even if it's only for an hour or two a month, it's important to try to do something for someone else. Whether you're helping at a soup kitchen, working in a community garden, or volunteering at a senior citizen center, giving back will make you feel better and give you a sense of purpose.
3. Get offline
It's hard to unplug nowadays, especially as our lives become increasingly digital, but we need to shut down more often. The internet, and Facebook in particular, can make us feel isolated, unhappy, and depressed. We end up comparing ourselves to people in our newsfeed — people who are getting married, having kids, living booming lives abroad, and nailing down their dream careers — and this makes us feel inadequate. In 2014, let's stop comparing ourselves to what we see online and start living more offline.
4. Join an organization, club, or community group
Humans are social animals, and need face-to-face interaction with others to be happy. Finding a group of like-minded people with whom you share interests and ideas can make you happier. If you have something you're particularly passionate about — whether it's cooking, hiking, or writing — finding people to share your passions with can help you grow.
5. Learn something new
Knowledge doesn't just make you smarter, it makes you happier. If there's something you've been itching to learn, whether it's a language, a sport, a craft or a skill, make a resolution to give it a go. With all of the information floating around on the internet — tutorials, guides, podcasts, and lessons — there's no reason you can't start right now.
6. Embrace domesticity
A lot of millennials aren't exactly kitchen savvy. If you're someone who avoids the hob and oven, vow to learn how to cook this year. While it may sound intimidating, learning to make even a few delicious, simple, healthy, and filling meals can help you save money and lose weight.
You know that movement makes you happy, and swaying to a killer tune will definitely make you smile, but research has shown that dance can actually change the way you think. This year, whether you're rocking out solo in your bedroom, dropping it in a dance hall, or joining a dance team, try to let loose — you'll be happier if you do.
8. Enjoy the great outdoors
Spending even a few minutes outside, away from urban sprawl, can do wonders to improve our moods and mental health. A brief stroll through the park on your lunch break or a weekend bike ride might be all you need to clear your head and relax. Vow to see more trees, lakes, hills, and fields this year.
9. Indulge wisely
We're all a little cash-strapped these days, and very few of us are going to be buying luxury cars or taking island vacations anytime soon. But don't despair! Studies have found that spending on life's small indulgences — dark chocolate, hot coffees, nice sweaters — is even more satisfying.
10. And while you're at it, get a puppy
Ok, this isn't really a resolution. But if you're committed to a happier 2014, you might want to adopt a four-legged companion. Studies have linked pet ownership with increased cheerfulness and decreased stress levels.