It’s been a rough two years, hasn’t it? I’m going to be honest and say that I can’t really get my hopes up like I did at the start of 2021. I’m going to keep my expectations a little more realistic this time around. We can’t control the people around us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t focus on ourselves, though. That’s why I’ve put together this list of activities to reach your New Year goals in 2022.
1. Breathe Better
As someone who has lived with anxiety for most of my life, I can tell you that when I remember to take deep breaths, I feel so much better. I’m going to work on practicing deep breathing techniques whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and breathing more functionally throughout my day.
2. Get in Your Steps
There was a time when I’d easily take 10,000 steps in a day but I’ve become remarkably sedentary. It’s time to dust off the old pedometer (okay, not really — I’m just going to use my phone) and come up with a plan to work my way up to getting my 10k steps in every day.
3. Stretch It Out
Here’s another one that feels sooooooo good when I actually remember to do it. Stretching my body first thing in the morning, every few hours during the day, and right before bed really helps prevent so many aches and pains. It’s not that hard, so why is it so hard to actually do? This is DEFINITELY going to be one of my New Year goals in 2022!
4. Get Up Earlier
I’d gotten into a rhythm where I was getting up 90 minutes before everyone else in my house. As someone who works from home (with four of my six kids still living here!), that time was precious. Then, as the days got shorter I found it harder to get up early in the morning when it’s still dark. That’s not a good enough excuse — time to set that alarm!
5. Take Care of Your Skin
Here’s another good routine that I adopted over the summer that’s gone a bit by the wayside recently. I’ve started doing the 10-step Korean beauty skincare and it makes my skin look so hydrated and radiant. Isn’t that a good enough reason to do it? Why is finding a few minutes for self-care so difficult?
6. Reconnect With Someone
I’ve become pretty antisocial during the pandemic. People often assume I’m an extrovert, but the truth is that I’m just a friendly, sociable introvert. While part of me really loves being antisocial, there are some friends I’d like to reconnect with because I love them. So, I’m going to make that effort part of my New Year goals in 2022.
7. Make that Appointment
Have you been putting off a cavity that needs filling or a visit to the eye doctor? It’s scary for many of us — trust me, I understand this! — but with the Omicron variant spreading faster than any other variant so far, it doesn’t look like this is going to end anytime soon.
Take the necessary precautions, maybe even wait until your numbers improve a bit if there are a high number of cases in your area, and then make the appointment. Don’t be shy about phoning ahead and verifying the safety measures being taken if that makes you feel more comfortable.
8. Send That Email
Do you have something on your chest that can’t wait another minute? If we’ve learned anything over the past couple years, it’s that life is short and everything can change in an instant. Don’t put it off one more day. Whether it’s a confession, apology, confession of love, or end of a relationship, give yourself peace and say what you need to say.
9. Update Your Resume
This pandemic has made all of us rethink our priorities, so it’s not surprising that many people have chosen to change careers. Even if you haven’t been thinking about it, this is a great time to update your resumé. You never know when a great opportunity could come along.
10. Drink More Water
We both know that you’re probably not drinking enough water. It’s something that many of us struggle with. I’ll tell you, though, that by following a Japanese diet I’ve never been more hydrated because, instead of focusing on guzzling water, the emphasis is on eating hydrating foods. That being said, I do also drink about a gallon of water every day now!
11. Eat Better Food
We’ve heard the stories about pandemic weight gain, and I can tell you that it’s impacted me too. For a while, I relied on comfort foods and treats to calm my nerves, but we can’t do that forever. We feel well when we eat well, so make an effort to make good choices at mealtime as one of your New Year goals in 2022. You don’t have to be perfect either — just do better.
12. Lean Into Gratitude
The world is on fire, so what’s there to be grateful for? It’s true that things are really hard, and many have lost loved ones, jobs, or even struggled with their own health. Let yourself feel the pain and let yourself grieve, but also look for something — ANYTHING — that’s good in your life. Research shows us that there are scientifically-proven benefits associated with gratitude and that shift in thinking can improve the quality of your life.
13. Learn a New Word Every Day
Give that brain a workout as one of your New Year goals in 2022! You should always be looking for ways to learn and grow, so why not start with something simple? Learning a new word every day expands your vocabulary, strengthening your ability to communicate in your daily life. Plus, you might just feel smarter which is a good feeling.
Many of us have experienced loss during this pandemic, which is why it’s more important than ever to give. If you’ve got the money, by all means, find a local organization that could use extra funds. It’s not just about cash, though. People need your time too.
Look for volunteer opportunities or even step up for someone in your life (like your sister who could use a free babysitter for an evening). You need to be safe, of course, so you can volunteer online and still make a difference!
15. Declutter Your Home
While minimalism isn’t for everyone, a clutter-free home can be good for the mind. It can also give you room to breathe. Do one room at a time and try to identify things you can donate/sell, place in storage, or throw away. Then, enjoy that reclaimed space!
16. Upgrade Your Bedroom
At the end of 2020, I saw a tweet that encouraged people to invest in their bedrooms. Initially, I scoffed and said I didn’t have the money but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the tweet was right. So, I did a little research, spent less than $300, and found a new bed frame, duvet cover, and lamps for my side table. It IMMEDIATELY made our bedroom feel more elevated and elegant. I’m so glad we did this!
17. Look at Your Credit Report
I’ve been that person who doesn’t look at my credit report because I don’t want to see how bad things are. The reality is, though, that you won’t be able to fix the problems until you know what they are. That being said, I found all kinds of mistakes and other things I could easily address to make things right. While I don’t encourage people to be a slave to their credit score, it is incredibly motivating (and gratifying) to see it improve. Make financial literacy one of your New Year goals in 2022!
18. Start a Savings Account
Every time someone told me to start a savings account, my answer was the same — I don’t have any extra money to save! Then, I chose an option through my bank that allowed me to save a small amount by rounding up my transactions. So, if I spent $97.20 on groceries, my bank rounded up to $98 and put that $0.80 in my savings account. No, it’s not thousands of dollars, but it’s a start and adds up over time!
19. Forgive Someone (including yourself)
Life is way too short to hold onto hate, pain, regret, or resentment. Forgiveness is not about forgetting or saying that everything is okay. It’s about releasing the negative feelings, freeing up emotional space, and healing. Do whatever you need to do to get to this place, don’t rush it, and do it for yourself.
20. Ask Someone for a Playlist
Music is a universal language. You don’t need to know or understand the words to a song (if it even has lyrics!) for it to move you. Remember when we used to make mixtapes for each other? Ask someone to make you a playlist of their favorite tracks. Not only will you broaden your own musical horizons, but you’ll learn more about the person who shared it!
21. Explore a New Culture
The world is a big place, but the space we personally occupy is very, very small. How much do you really know about the cultures and traditions among your fellow humans in different parts of this beautiful earth? Make an effort to go beyond the familiar and expand your worldview.
22. Take a Virtual Vacation
Travel isn’t very practical or accessible right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to close the door to exploring. Stream a show on Netflix, try new recipes, and “visit” new destinations through books and photography. It’s not the same, but may inspire you for future travel!
23. Take a Real Vacation
This is tricky and will depend on a number of factors including your individual level of risk, destination, and current travel restrictions. That being said, even if it’s just an hour or two away from home, you can make safer choices to enjoy a break from your pandemic home base.
24. Face a Fear
This website is all about facing fears whether it’s grief and germaphobia or roller coasters and I can say that these experiences have made me a stronger person. Afraid of the dark? Start with five seconds of darkness and gradually work up to a full minute. Terrified of spiders? Let the tiny one in the corner of your bathroom live there for a while.
25. Admit a Mistake
Do you have some shame or regret bouncing around inside that needs to be grounded? Whenever I’m feeling like that, unless it’s something minor, my first instinct is to push it away and ignore the emotions. If you’ve been feeling that way, maybe it’s time to sit with the discomfort, acknowledge what happened, and admit a mistake (if you made one). Even if it hurts, when you stop running from it, you’ll probably feel relieved.
Remember the mistake we just accepted and acknowledged? Consider apologizing for it, if your choices and behavior impacted someone else. Again, it might not be easy to swallow your pride and say sorry, but they deserve to hear it. One of the best ways to grow is by being accountable.
27. Set a Goal
Many of us have been wandering around aimlessly for the past two years. Our dreams and big plans were derailed when the pandemic began and it feels like every time we find some sort of equilibrium, the rug gets pulled out from under us. If you’ve been feeling unbalanced, it’s not hard to understand why. Set some small, realistic New Year goals in 2022 and get it done. Even baby steps move us in the right direction!
28. Try a New Hobby
Let’s be honest — life has been pretty stagnant lately. Why not freshen things up with a new hobby? Try to choose something that won’t be impacted by rising case numbers so that your progress isn’t interrupted. Learn a new language, pick up painting, or even get a college certificate. There are so many ways to stretch and grow right now — get creative!
29. Identify Energy Vampires
There are people in our lives that feed our fire and provide the support we need to stay energized and healthy. Then, there are people who do the exact opposite. You’re already thinking of someone, aren’t you? Are you giving them access to your sanity, peace, and joy? If so, it’s time to make a change. Set some clear boundaries and if that doesn’t work, keep them at a distance.
30. Rethink Social Media
There was a time when social media was so much fun. When I look back, those early days were so innocent and we shared organically with our closest friends. That’s not what we’re seeing right now and there’s growing evidence that it’s actually harmful to our health and well-being. It might be time to rethink your relationship with those apps. Earlier in the pandemic, I deleted and downsized my social presence, and I have no regrets!
31. Live a Mindful Life
I’ve been working on this for years, but it feels even more important now than ever. This is one of my biggest New Year goals in 2022. To me, living mindfully means being present in the moment and putting down my phone when I’m spending time with the people in my life. It’s being aware of my surroundings, showing appreciation for everything we have, and reflecting on the victories and challenges that have come my way.
It’s also about recognizing my role not only as an individual but a member of my society. One of the reasons we love and plan to move to Japan is that the focus is on the collective, which is extremely important during hard times (like a pandemic!). When we are mindful of how our actions can help or hurt the people around us, we become a more compassionate and resilient society.
Here’s to setting New Year goals in 2022! We don’t know what the year will bring, but we can make an effort to get our own lives off to a better start. When we’re strong as individuals, we contribute to making this a stronger world for everyone. Teamwork makes the dream work, but it starts with taking good care of ourselves!