12 Feel-Good Resolutions for a Sweet Year

The way I see it, most New Year’s resolutions are frustrating and ineffective because they are about turning inward. I’ve always found more success reaching out instead. That’s why I’ve made this list of 12 goals for 2012, one for each month to make this my sweetest year yet. Will you join me?

January – Reconnect with a neighbor. It seems as though everybody disappears into their houses in the winter, making the already cold months feel lonely too. Take a plate of cookies to a neighbor and visit for a while, or invite them over for a homemade dinner of soup and bread. The world will instantly become a warmer place.

February – Spend one-on-one time with each family member. The Valentine month gets our focus on love and nothing says, “I love you” more than quality time together. Set aside a few hours to focus on each member of your family, and make sure it’s just the two of you. Go out to lunch, visit a museum, or make cookies together in the kitchen. Spouses and kids alike will bask in your individual attention.

March – Look up a long lost friend. You’ve been wondering about your best friend from second grade. Did she ever become an archaeologist? Or an opera singer? Modern technology has made it easier than ever to find those important people from the past. Make a goal to rekindle and old friendship. Send an email, make a phone call, or send a surprise tin of cookies. The reward will be sweet.

April – Switch up your routine. As creatures of habit, we can get stuck in a rut without even realizing. Mix up your regular routines this month. Buy a different breakfast cereal, drive a different way home from work, sign up for a different class at the gym, or try a different restaurant. The discoveries you make about yourself and your world might surprise you.

May – Pay it forward. Start a domino effect of goodwill by doing a kindly deed, just because. Pay for the next car’s coffee in the line at the drive-thru, put a few quarters into an almost-expired parking meter, wait a few extra seconds to keep a door open for someone, or anonymously deliver a plate of cookies to somebody who needs a lift. You’ll get a rush of joy, and chances are, all that goodwill will come right back to you.

June – Ask someone older and wiser. Interview a grandparent, great uncle, or elderly friend. Ask them about life when they were your age. How much was a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread? What was communication, transportation, and education like? What have they learned about life, and what do they wish they knew then? Let them reminisce while you soak it in. There’s a lot to be learned if you take time to listen.

July – Make a lemonade stand for charity. Take advantage of warm temperatures and set up a lemonade stand with the kids, then donate the funds to a charity. Enjoy the opportunity to help them learn about giving back. (Check out Alex’s Lemonade Stand for more ideas.)

August – Go for a walk; take a bag. Enjoy a brisk walk or hike outdoors at least once this month, but take a plastic grocery bag with you. Pick up trash along your path and notice how good it feels to leave things better than you found them.

September – Teach or tutor. Back to school time means new opportunities for learning…and teaching. Chances are, you’re really good at something. Consider teaching a free class in your community, or volunteer to tutor a student or an adult. Contact your local library to find out about community programs that might need your help.

October – Fill your trunk and fill your heart. Go through your closet, your garage, and your pantry with a question in mind: What am I not using that could make somebody’s life better? Gather unused coats, hats, boots, bikes, and non-perishable foods to donate to a local shelter, food bank, or charity. If you don’t have enough for one trunk full, let friends and family know your plan—they will likely join forces and fill in any gaps.

November – Give thanks. As in, a lot of thanks. Most people around us do a lot of thankless work every day. See what happens when you take time to express thanks to those around you for all the little otherwise unnoticeable acts of service. You’ll be amazed at the response in others, and you’ll realize how much for which you have to be thankful.

December – Use time as a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the holidays, searching out the perfect gifts for friends and family. Before your calendar gets filled up with 101 holiday obligations, block out time for things that matter most to you as a gift to yourself. (And a less-stressed you is a gift to others!) Is it time reading with the kids by the fire? A quiet dinner with your significant other? Or an uninterrupted bubble bath all by yourself? Remember that there’s no gift like the present, so spend your time wisely.

Those are my goals. What are your feel-good resolutions? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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