The Best New Year’s Resolution Is the Easiest One

Photo: Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images

Like many people, I have a long list of failed New Year’s resolutions, most of which involve exercise and not drinking on the weeknights. But a few years ago, I made a resolution that I actually managed to follow through on: I resolved to cook more meat. At the time, I liked to cook, and was even pretty good at it, but I found cooking meat intimidating, so I mostly avoided it. It was a perfect resolution, because it was easy, and I wanted to do it anyway (and I had just been given a Dutch oven for Christmas). Over the next year, I made a conscious effort to try recipes that involved meat, and now I know how to braise short ribs and make Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese.

In the spirit of self-improvement, here are 20 easy New Year’s resolutions from the Cut staff.

1. Walk More

“My New Year’s Resolution is to walk. I am constantly suffering side-eyes from my friends (and my bank account) for taking ride-shares everywhere I go. I recently moved to New York, and between commuting and exploring new neighborhoods, I’ve been forced to be a little less lazy about putting one foot in front of the other. I’m not sure if leaning into something you have to do counts as a resolution, but I bought a FitBit to track my steps and I find myself walking past the closest subway stops to get a couple more blocks in each day.” —Adrienne Green, senior editor

2. Stand Up Straighter

“My best and easiest resolution was to have better posture, which basically just meant reminding myself to stand up straight all the time. I tended to slouch if I was in an intimidating situation — interviews, big social gatherings — so I wouldn’t let myself go into a room without straightening up. I treated it like checking your eyeliner or hair. I also made sure to pick chairs with backs if that was an option. And now I have good posture.” —Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, senior writer

3. Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier Every Day 

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have 15 minutes to yourself every morning? You can have it, if you just: Wake up 15 minutes earlier every day. It won’t make you that much sleepier, and you’ll get to read a chapter of your book while having coffee. Or you can just have a moment of peace!” —Kelly Conaboy, writer-at-large

4. Bike to Work

“Instead of squeezing yourself onto a packed, rundown subway car in the morning — or taking a cab, if that’s something people still do — bike to work. It’s meditative, great exercise, fun, cheap, and believe it or not, very easy! The only hard part is getting yourself in the habit. Once you get past that short, early stage, though, you’ll start to subconsciously grab your helmet on your way out of your apartment. (Yes, we urge you to wear a helmet.)” —Amanda Arnold, writer

5. Go to More Museums

“An easy resolution I made last year is to go to more museums. Mostly this turned into inviting friends to spend afternoons at the Brooklyn Museum, which is near my apartment (and a lovely way to spend a Sunday), but it also led me to discover other museums around the city that I hadn’t been to yet, like the Cloisters and the Transit Museum. I don’t know how often you go to museums, so ‘more’ can really mean whatever you want. This makes it a very attainable resolution.” —Madeleine Aggeler, senior writer

6. Read for Fun

“In prior years I’ve set a numbered reading goal for myself, which quickly became competitive — if I read 50 books one year, I had to read 60 the next, and so on, and soon that got impossible to fulfill. Last year I resolved to ‘read for fun,’ which meant that I could quit books I wasn’t really into, and focus on reading quality over quality. I read fewer books, but reading never felt like a chore.” —Katie Heaney, senior health writer

7. Stop Reading Bad Books

“A couple years ago I resolved not to force myself to finish reading books I wasn’t enjoying, and to stop feeling bad for rereading books I’ve already read and loved. There are countless amazing books in the world. In my life I’ll be able to read a tiny fraction of them. Why waste time and energy forcing myself to read ones I don’t want to? And now I reread oldies when I’m in a reading rut and need something reliable to ease me back in.” —Rachel Bashein, managing editor

8. Try on Clothes in Stores

“Last year, my resolution was to try on more clothes in stores, as opposed to ordering them online and trying at home. This wasn’t some personal attempt to save the dying retail industry, but rather to save some money on shipping and generally buy less stuff. I was more addicted to the act of buying something online than the actual thing I was buying. The number of packages piled up in my lobby started to get out of hand, and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. I found that visiting stores and even just touching what I wanted fulfilled my need to browse, and usually made the desire to buy instantly go away. It’s now a little ritual of mine. I walk around Soho for like 30 minutes after work, and go home happily empty-handed.” —Emilia Petrarca, fashion news writer

9. Dry January 

“I do Dry January every year, because it’s extremely easy to cut out drinking cold turkey for one month. That always works better for me than slippery rules like not drinking during the week, and afterward I’m able to actually enjoy it much more.” —Bridget Read, writer

10. Take More Selfies

“In 2020, I’d love to become a person who takes selfies. And by that I mean, actual good ones. I have a fair share of them on my phone, but the resulting photo is never good enough for main feed status. So, I want to take more selfies and learn how to take good ones.” —Kerensa Cadenas, senior editor

11. Gossip More 

“I’m from a family of inveterate shit-talkers, and at some point in the past five years I started to find it all off-putting, so I made a concerted effort to cut down on gossip. But I think I went too far. Gossip is great! It’s a social glue. It allows you to bond with people and pick up valuable information. I started dialing it back up this year and immediately found that my life was more fun. I’m still going to try to, you know, be a decent human, but I think gossiping more is going to make 2020 much better.” —Izzy Grinspan, deputy style editor

12. Don’t Take an Improv Class

“Every year I think about taking an improv class, but this year will be different because I’ve decided in advance not to entertain the thought. Inevitably, there will come a moment, probably in the spring, when a friend tells me with a sly, embarrassed smile that she’s ‘started taking improv classes,’ and I’ll be ready when she does, responding with mature curiosity and understanding rather than shrieks of, ‘Oh cool, I’ve always wanted to do that!’ Because I don’t.” —Hannah Gold, writer

13. Start Fermenting 

“Fermentation can sound daunting, but if you decide to make one fermented thing — kimchi, sourdough, hot sauce, etc. — you won’t feel so intimidated. Last year, I got very into making kombucha, which was a downright joy; I loved adding different fruits into the mix to see how their flavor changed over time. I imagine that’s how scientists feel when they make potions or whatever.” —Amanda Arnold, writer

14. Get Renters Insurance

“My personal mission going into 2020 is to make everyone I know get renters insurance. This past year, I had friends experience all sorts of apartment tragedies: one friend’s pipe burst, flooding her living room and destroying all her furniture, one friend was robbed, and another saw their building go up in flames. Initially, I was hesitant to add an additional monthly bill to the mix. But when my boyfriend and I moved in together and tallied up the estimated worth of our belongings, I realized we couldn’t afford not to insure our stuff. Now, we pay about $20 dollars a month for renters insurance. It’s more than worth it for the peace of mind.” —Anne Cruz, intern

15. Hug Your Family

“I don’t like hugs. I hate them, in fact — a casual, meaningless hug spreads germs and social discomfort. But I dislike hugs so much I sometimes forget to give sincere hugs to the members of my family. In 2020 I resolve to hug my loved ones more, and I think you should too. (But only the people you truly love, no one else.) Each hug should just take a brief moment!” —Jen Gann, senior editor

16. Try New Things

“This isn’t my resolution, but my mom’s that I like. It’s just ‘try new things.’ For her that means Mahjong. But depending on who you are, it could mean anything from moving to another country or switching careers, or just trying and then hating a new salad at Sweetgreen. Try new things! Easy to accomplish and perfectly vague.” —Sarah Spellings, fashion writer

17. Learn the Em Dash Shortcut

“This year, I’m resolving to learn and use the em dash shortcut. For some reason, I’ve never bothered to learn it, and for years, I’ve been using two hyphens (–), even though this is the kind of sloppy error that drives me nuts. But I recently Googled the keyboard shortcut (shift-option-hyphen on a Mac, if you’re wondering) and have been forcing myself to use it. Turns out, it’s pretty satisfying!” —Erica Schwiegershausen, editor

18. Relax

“I often get anxious when I think about the future — if I’m making all the ‘right’ choices, if I’m doing everything within the ‘right’ time frame. There’s so much pressure to have certain aspects of your life figured out by certain ages, and it’s bullshit. In 2020 I want to let go of the notion that I’m running out of time, and just enjoy the now.” —Alexia LaFata, SEO editor

19. Wash My BeautyBlender Once a Week

“My New Year’s Resolution is to wash my BeautyBlender once a week. This is fueled by a terrifying (but not thoroughly conclusive) U.K. study that alleged that there are “deadly superbugs” lurking in our unwashed makeup bags. I currently wash my BeautyBlender … let’s just say, not enough. I think we are all fine, but let’s be safe — I don’t want the human race to be taken down by a dirty sponge.” —Kathleen Hou, beauty director

20. Cook More

“I’ve always thought of cooking as just a socially acceptable way of wasting my own time. Why would I take precious hours out of my day to make cookies, or meat, or whatever, if they aren’t going to last forever and I’ll just have to do it all over again the next time I want them? But I’ve started to realize that wasting time isn’t the worst thing, and, in fact, I should probably do more of it. What big important things would I be doing anyway? This year, I’m procrastinating in the kitchen.” —Jordan Larson, essays editor

The Best New Year’s Resolution Is the Easiest One