There’s something so refreshing about the thought of a new year – a way to start fresh; to revive ourselves; to set goal ideas and work towards the best life we can have.
Unfortunately, most people that set New Year’s Resolutions fail to follow through on them. Stats indicate anywhere from 50-90% of people have given up on their goals by the 6 month mark. While there are a lot of reasons for this, one of the biggest reasons that I’ve noticed (as an RD and personal trainer) is ambiguity in goals.
For example, “I want to eat better” or “I’m going to exercise more”. Those are great ambitions, but they’re so broad. What does eat better even mean to you? How much more will you exercise? How will either fit into your life?
Today, instead of the broad resolutions, I wanted to share 15 goal ideas that you can use to make 2020 your best year ever. Each of these goal ideas is quite specific, and I’ve tried to elaborate on all of them to get you thinking about the steps to put into place to make them happen.
They’re also broken down by category. I personally like choosing a goal from each of these categories, but you can also just choose one goal at a time to work on!
15 Goal Ideas to Make 2020 Your Best Year Ever
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
1. Make half of your dinner plate veggies.
If there’s one nutrition goal idea that (as an RD) I truly believe would help almost all Americans – it’s simply eating more vegetables. Veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that help your body in a multitude of ways. Plus, they’re low in calories and high in fiber.
Ideally, you want half of most of your meals to be made up of veggies – but that might be a bit too overwhelming to start with, depending on your current eating habits. Instead, right now, try focusing just on your dinner plate for a manageable strategy!
Remember that frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh, so keep bags of them on stock to heat up whenever you need a quick, easy option.
You might also like: Easy Meal Planning for Beginners
2. Add a polyphenol-rich food to every day.
I love nutrition habits that focus on adding something in, rather than taking something out – it’s so much more fun that way! In this case, all you’ll have to do is add one polyphenol-rich food to your day.
What are polyphenols? They’re a group of chemical compounds in many plant-based foods that have some awesome health benefits for our body – think anything from cardiovascular health to reduced risk of cancer to reducing inflammation.
The best part is that polyphenols are found in a lot of tasty foods that you probably already love – here are some ideas to incorporate regularly:
- Berries – raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries
- Tea – black and green
- Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and cacao powder (check out some awesome cacao powder recipes here)
- Soy products
- Wine – especially red (smaller amounts in white)
- Pomegranate arils and juice
3. Take a cooking class. (Alternative: Challenge yourself to work through a cookbook!)
One of the reasons people often say they don’t eat better is because they perceive healthy food to taste worse. On the contrary, nutritious meals can taste amazing! If you feel like your lack of kitchen skills is preventing you from eating better, set a goal to take a cooking class this year. Not only will you treat yourself with a fun day out, but you’ll learn invaluable skills that will help you for life.
If you can’t find a class near you, another option would be to grab a healthy eating cookbook and challenge yourself to work through it! Choose one new recipe a week to test out. Here are a few great cookbooks for you to try, depending on your preferences:
- The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook
- The Skinnytaste Cookbook
- Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook (note – some language in here, but awesome cookbook!)
4. Sign up for your first 5K (or 10K, or half marathon, or full marathon, or whatever other race you’d like!).
There’s nothing that will motivate you to stick to a training plan better than putting money down for a race.
Whether it’s your first 5K or your first marathon, start researching races that you might like to participate in. Think about whether you’d prefer a large vs. small event, a local vs. destination event, and any other factors that might sway you to sign up (like awesome swag or fun post-race festivities).
Once you find a good one, hit that register button ASAP and get your name in there. Then, develop (or find) a training plan to help you cross the finish line successfully.
5. Commit to a 30-day _______ (insert exercise here) challenge.
The idea here is simple – choose any exercise, and commit to doing it daily for 30 days.
Several times over the last few years, I’ve participated in a “Winter Warrior Challenge” that’s required me to run at least a mile outside every day in January. While I’m not a huge fan of 10 degree runs over here in New England, I do love the way a 30-day commitment helps you to stick with something.
Of course, you don’t have to choose running. You could do a 30-day challenge for:
- Push Ups
- Cycling rides on your trainer
- Walking on the treadmill
- Or any other exercise of your choice!
6. Try one new exercise class/activity.
If you’re not sure about a longer-term fitness goal like the previous two mentioned, consider setting a goal to just try one new exercise class. The fact that it’s a very simple, one-time action (despite being a little scary stepping outside your comfort zone) makes it easier to complete.
Here are a few ideas for activities you might try:
7. Meditate for 10 minutes each day.
If your brain is always going a million miles a minute, this is a goal idea you may want to consider adding to your 2019 plan. I love how Headspace describes meditation:
“It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment.”
Meditation isn’t just a woo-woo thing either – it has several established benefits. Psychology Today lists many of these, which include:
- Better immune function
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Decreased stress
- Increased focus and attention
Start setting aside 10 minutes each day to focus on your breathing. You can also try an app/website like Headspace for a guided meditation, which I personally like a bit better.
8. See a counselor if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
There seems to still be a stigma around mental health in our country, but so many of us are struggling with these kinds of issues. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states that 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness in a given year.
Mental health counselors can help you to cope with anything you’re going through, whether it’s a severe issue or if you’ve just been feeling a bit blue lately. Insurance plans provide varying degrees of mental health coverage, so check to see what yours offers. You can also look into alternative options, like paying out of pocket for a provider that you know is rated highly, or tele-health options where you see a provider virtually.
9. Leave your phone in another room when you’re with your family.
This is personally on my list of 2019 goals. I am 100% overdoing screen time on my phone, and I know it. I get sucked into social media, scrolling through the endless Facebook or Instagram feed.
Anyone with me?
Recently, I’ve been trying to put my phone in another room when I’m playing with my kiddo. I can’t just pick it up to “quickly” check if I have an emails or notifications. Just putting it in the other room causes enough of a hassle (i.e. walking to the other room) that it’s helping me to break that habit.
If you struggle with this too, I hope you’ll join me in trying this trick. You can start for a small amount of time to start, like placing it in another room for an hour.
10. Build a $1000 emergency fund. (Already there? Build an emergency fund with 3-6 months’ worth of expenses.)
Emergencies and unexpected expenses are a fact of life – but many of us may struggle to cover these costs. For example, financial data from the Federal Reserve indicates…
- 4 in 10 adults would struggle to cover an unexpected expense of $400, requiring them to either sell something or borrow moey.
- 1 in 5 adults are not able to pay all their monthly bills.
- 1 in 4 adults skipped medical care because they were unable to afford the cost.
One way to prepare for these situations is to start building up an emergency fund. Just like it sounds, this is money that is set aside in savings and only used for an emergency. Ideally you want 3-6 months of living expenses set aside, but if that seems too overwhelming – aim to start with a goal of $1000.
Here are a few ideas for getting that emergency fund into place:
- Have an automatic percentage of your paycheck diverted into a savings account.
- Pick up one-time opportunities for extra income, like working a brand’s booth at a expo event or participating in a focus group.
- Take on a second job (like waiting tables a few nights a week) or a gig-type job (like delivering for Instant Cart or driving for Uber).
- Sell things around the house that you don’t need using Facebook marketplace or Craigslist.
- Cut unnecessary expenses from the budget, like cable for example – then divert that money to your savings.
11. Avoid your “trigger store” for one month.
Do you have a store that you walk into – and suddenly all your plans for not spending money just went out the window?
I know for me, it’s Target. I walk in there to get milk and walk out with a cart full of home decorations, a new jacket, and a book to read. 😉
If there’s a similar store that elicits this response for you, consider putting that location on hiatus for a month. You might be surprised at how much you can save when you avoid the place(s) you tend to spend the most!
Creating your best life
12. Read one book a month.
With all the screen time we have – televisions, computers, smart phones, video games – it’s easy to let reading slip away. But reading helps keep your brain sharp and allows continuous learning.
You can choose whatever types of books you’d like. Fiction books let you get lost in a bit of a fantasy land, clinging to characters and wondering what will happen next. Nonfiction allows you to learn more about people, history, business, or self-help – giving you a greater understanding of the world or yourself.
Try making a list of the 12 books you’d like to read over the course of the year. You can always switch one out later if a new bestseller hits the shelves. But having a list now will encourage you to stick to this goal.
Here’s what’s on my list for some inspiration (I’m obviously a non-fiction reader, haha):
13. Choose one weekend to declutter your house.
You may have read our earlier post on how clutter causes anxiety – and that’s something none of us need! Try setting aside one full weekend and go all out decluttering your house.
Get rid of the clothes you no longer wear; the toys your kids no longer play with; the box of cables that you have no idea what they are actually for, etc. Toss what’s not useful; donate whatever still has life left in it.
Related: How to start decluttering today.
14. Start a gratitude journal.
Plenty of anecdotal reports – as well as actual scientific research – show that when people focus on what they are thankful for, they tend to feel happier and more content. It’s far too easy these days to focus on what we’re lacking; to complain about minute annoyances. Instead, this goal idea will have you shifting the focus and starting to reflect each day on what you’re grateful for.
A gratitude journal doesn’t have to be a long, comprehensive description of each day. Instead, you can aim to write down 3 things (or even start with 1!) that you were grateful for that day. Just make it a practice to incorporate this into your routine daily.
15. Travel to a new place.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive trip around the world (unless you want it to be, of course!). You can consider something as a road trip to an area in your state that you’ve never visited. (For example, if you’re local, here are some great things to do in Western Massachusetts.) Anything that’s new to you counts!
Exploring new places will not only bring joy to you, but it provides an opportunity to bond in a unique way with your family (or friends).
Also, don’t just wait for the “right” time to arrive – start planning your day/weekend/week trip now. Research shows people have more enjoyment when they can plan for and get excited about a trip in advance! Plus, if you plan it, you know it will actually happen.