21 small New Year's resolutions that will change your life

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Tired of trying and failing at your New Year's resolutions? Research suggests that many people quit their resolutions after just two weeks of the new year. Sometimes, that failure is because they chose the wrong resolution in the first place. Check your resolutions to make sure you aren't making one of the more common mistakes.

But even if your resolution is a smart one, not every year offers the time or mental energy to take on a huge new challenge. Making a goal that's time consuming and large could be really great during a year when you have the energy to do it. But if you don't, you might want to consider tackling something less daunting. There's nothing wrong with skipping the lofty resolution this year - these small resolutions can still make a big impact on your life!

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Read a book

Reading is not only a good way to learn something new or hear a great story - it's also a good way to gain compassion, connect with others, and keep your brain sharp and healthy. Reading just a little bit each day has been scientifically proven to strengthen brain connectivity; start with just one book, and see if the habit sticks!

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Save $10 a week

$10 may not seem like much, but if you struggle to save anything at all, it may be more doable than a lofty savings goal. There are 52 weeks in a year, so by the end of December you'll have set aside $520. That's nothing to scoff at! You could buy a round-trip flight to Europe with that kind of cash.

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Make your own coffee

You might not realize it, but if you buy a coffee every morning, you're spending a whole lot more than you think. Try making your own coffee at home and bringing it in a to-go cup. You will a) save the environment the cost of all your not-recycled cups, and b) save your wallet all those extra expenditures.

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Journal for 10 minutes every day

Journaling is a way to spend time with yourself that's more valuable than just scrolling through Instagram or staring at a constant stream of Netflix. Take a couple of minutes each day to jot down your thoughts. You may find that you discover interesting truths about yourself or are able to work through difficult emotions that have been weighing you down. Some people like to do this as part of their morning routine, as they find it sets the right intentions for their day.

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Try a new form of exercise

Life is too short to spend it on grueling exercise that you hate. Workouts don't have to suck! There are so many different kinds of movement out there; the chances are high that there's a right one for you. Try a new workout like biking or swimming, or sign up for a new group fitness class like kickboxing or pole dancing. (Yes, that exists.) Get out of your comfort zone a little!

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Stretch every day

Taking care of your body can sometimes be surprisingly simple. Stretching does your body a world of good, helping your blood flow and calling your attention to anything strange or uncomfortable that may be happening. Do you sit all day? Stretching your upper back can help with the negative consequences of slouching. And that's just one example of the benefits that come from a simple stretch.

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Wash your face every night before bed

Seriously, if you don't do this already, you need to start. Whether or not you have acne, its important to take care of your skin. Make it a habit to wash your face every night before you go to bed, just like you wouldn't skip brushing your teeth.

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Learn to cook 5 new recipes

You don't have to learn to cook like a master chef; but add a couple of new, simple dishes to your rotation. You might find that you order takeout less often, save money, and eat more of what you really want to instead of just what's convenient to buy pre-made!

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Track your sleep habits

You might not be able to change them right away, but tracking your sleep habits can bring things to your attention. Do you tend to go to bed later than you think? Does it take you hours to fall asleep? Once you notice what it is that's making you sleep-deprived, you can take steps that might help you sleep better.

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Call your friends and family more often

Set a reminder on your phone or make a weekly appointment with your parents; whatever works to help you keep in touch with the people you care about, consider trying it this year! Social connection is so important and dedicating time to the relationships you value can help them grow. Plus, giving that friend or family member a call may actually help extend their life!

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Drink more water

Start bringing a water bottle with you everywhere you go or start counting the cups of water you're drinking each day. Whatever holds you accountable, do it; the consequences of dehydration are very real!

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Schedule doctor's appointments

It's a hassle, but going to check-ups, teeth cleanings, and other routine doctor's appointments is a really important form of self-care. Make a point to schedule at least the bare minimum; and if going to the doctor overwhelms you, know that you're not alone. Come to your appointment armed with the right questions and these tips straight from doctors themselves on how to make the most out of your appointment.

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Give a compliment every single day

The crazy thing about giving compliments is that they help you just as much as they help the people who receives them. Make a point of giving a compliment at least once per day. Bonus points if the compliment is for something other than the person's appearance; try sending the message that other things are more valuable by complimenting their generosity, sense of humor, or personality.

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Volunteer for a good cause

If you have the time, try spending it by volunteering for a cause you care about. You can meet other like-minded people and feel good about having contributed. Not only that, but volunteering often provides opportunities to learn new skills, builds on your experience, and improves your mental health.

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Create a family photo album

In the 21st century, it's become rare to print and organize photos. Set aside some time to select, print, and organize some family photos and arrange them into an album. It'll leave you with something you can browse with your loved ones and treasure forever!

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Give your social media a mental health makeover

Social media, when used to excess or in the wrong way, can be destructive to your mental health. Give your social media platforms a mental health makeover. What does that mean? Get rid of anything that makes you feel badly about yourself or others. Unfollow people you find you're comparing yourself with, whether it's based on their body, career, or social life. Get rid of negative influences, such as accounts that are guilting you about your food and exercise decisions or spreading political messages you disagree with. Make your social media a happy place. And follow a few new accounts that make you feel good, instead!

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Spend more time outside

This can be difficult if you live in a colder climate, but being outdoors can have huge benefits for your mental and physical health. Try exercising outside by going for a run or a walk, biking around your town, or going swimming at the local pool. Even getting outdoors to sit under the sun and read a book can be beneficial.

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Stop apologizing so much

Most people say "I'm sorry" far too often. Every time you apologize when it isn't warranted (like when you open a door for someone else or are simply walking where you need to go) take note. Try to limit the number of times you apologize for things you don't need to. You might find it helps you feel more positive and empowered as you go about your day!

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Learn one skill to add to your resume

Maybe you learn some new tricks on Excel, or maybe you learn a new language; whatever skill you choose, make it your goal to master it by the end of the year and update your resume accordingly. Next time you apply to a job, that little extra effort could be the thing that sets you apart!

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Take a lunch break

This might sound silly, but many Americans either take a shortened lunch break or skip it altogether. Make a point to take back your lunch break (if your job allows for it) and do something for yourself with that hour. Maybe you bring a book to work and read or invite your coworkers along and make some new friends. Other ideas include walking around, listening to a podcast, or getting things done that you would otherwise have to at home, such as paying bills or replying to emails.

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Stop skipping meals

You might think that skipping meals is saving you cash (and calories), but studies show it might be doing more harm than good. Make a point this year to treat your body well by feeding it with three nourishing meals per day. You might notice it makes you feel much better - and you might be inspired to stop making these other common diet mistakes, as well!

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