It’s that time of year again, when things start to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. Everyone seems to be asking about New Year’s resolutions, and 99% of the answers are, “exercising more,” “doing dry January” or “eating healthily.”

And frankly, we’re just a bit bored of it all. If you are making positive changes that’s wonderful, but if you’re making these pledges just because a) it’s that time of year and you feel like you have to, or b) you think you need to be skinnier, then we don’t really think it’s worth your time.

If you do want to make a resolution this year, why not go a off the beaten track? These are a selection of our favourite ideas for bettering yourself in the new year.

And don’t worry, there’s not a gym membership or stick of celery in sight.

1. Join a book club

Online book club members reading together in a video conference

Sure, you could set yourself the target of reading a new book every month, but what are the chances of you sticking diligently to this as the year goes on?

If you join a book club you’ll be far more likely to keep up your resolution. Not only will you have the peer pressure of needing to read the book before the next get together, but it’s addictive – you’ll soon be hooked and desperate to give your thoughts on what you’ve read.

Nowadays book clubs aren’t quite like the one your grandma is part of. You’ll gossip about the world just as much as you’ll indulge in stimulating conversation about what you’ve read – it’s the perfect combination of socialising and learning new things.

Of course, in the early part of 2021 at least, you’re more likely to be meeting online via Zoom than in person for your monthly book club.

2. Learn a language

Learn another language online

OK, OK, you might have set yourself this resolution a few years ago, but it never quite panned out, did it?

But 2021 really is your time to shine, and it’s all about making a plan. Download a language app like Duolingo which calls for you to complete a quiz every day, making sure that you keep your learning ticking along.

January needn’t be all about detoxing and depriving yourself of the good stuff. Think ahead, consider booking yourself a trip to the country you’re learning the language of for later in the year. Then, it’ll be a fun treat, and a good incentive to brush up on your vocab before you get there.

3. Recycle everything you can

Close up hand holding empty bottle into the trash

You’re probably well aware of how important recycling is, but cast your mind back to 2020. How many times did you not bother to recycle something just because it was a bit too much effort?

Probably more than once. Even if you consider yourself generally quite environmentally friendly, if it gets in the way of your daily routine it’s probably left by the wayside.

So make it your resolution for this to stop in 2021 because, as you already know, it’s what the planet desperately needs.

4. Start sitting up straight

Woman sitting at a computer in the correct position

As you’re reading this, what’s your posture like? Let us guess: your rounded shoulders are slouched over your smartphone or desk especially when working from home.

If you don’t want to be the cliched gym-going New Year person, one thing you can work on instead is your posture. Not only is this a sneaky hack for looking like you’ve got your life together, but it will also take care of your joints, ligaments and muscles, and help prevent damage further down the line.

It’s also more than just physical – good posture can change your frame of mind, making you feel more positive and confident in yourself. Set a reminder on your phone to sit up straight sporadically throughout the day, and soon it will become second nature.

5. Play more board games

Over shoulder view of man sitting at coffee table and deciding about chess move while playing with friend via video chat

What’s this? A resolution that’s actually fun? Yep, that’s right.

Playing board games is not only a great way to get your friends together and have a laugh, but there’s a whole bunch of options that can test your brain in different ways, from logic to strategy and general knowledge.

Luckily, board games are becoming somewhat of a craze with dedicated cafes and online fan sites popping up all over, so it’s easier than ever to start playing more this year.

6. Cut yourself some slack

New Year’s resolutions are hard. They tend to be based around aesthetics, which can be tough to handle in our already hyper-superficial society.

That’s why we propose that if you are going to make resolutions, make one of them another cliché (but a much more positive one) – being kinder to yourself.

Next time you get upset with yourself about missing that gym class/messing up at work/forgetting your mum’s birthday, make an effort to not beat yourself up too much.

And then maybe go and call your mum – the birthday thing is easily salvageable.

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