Every new year, I often find myself getting sucked into the “hustle and grind” mindset. Do more, be more, make more. Become the best version of yourself. We hear it from all directions and respond by reciting a tired script, even though this perfection is clearly unobtainable.

What would it look like to ease into the year then, to give ourselves permission to move slowly and be thoughtful about our resolutions instead? What would it mean for our society and for our well-being to throw out all expectations along with the lofty resolutions (we’re talking detoxes, weight-loss plans, goals to grow our social audience and bank accounts) we’ve adopted so many times before?

We shouldn’t feel the need to become different people.

I’m not against setting goals and boundaries or practicing healthy habits and routines (quite the opposite, actually). Instead, I want to focus on making resolutions that inspire me, encourage self-care, and foster growth and love for others. We shouldn’t feel the need to become different people.

That’s why the only resolutions I’m making this year are the ones that invite me to do a better job at caring—for myself, for the planet and our environment, and for the people in my community. Here’s your invitation to make better resolutions too.

1. Practice A Morning & Evening Routine

As a creative, committing to practicing a morning or evening routine can, at times, feel constraining. I’ve found myself straying from routine on more than one occasion solely out of fear that the repetition will become obstructive and boring.

Here’s the truth though: morning and evening routines are there to help us, not hinder us. Research shows, even for creatives, embracing routine is essential to self-care, as well as for productivity and making time for the things that matter.

Routines have also been shown to reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of anxiety. One of our favorite mindfulness and meditation apps, Headspace, writes about it best in this blog post, “The Secret Benefit of Routines. It Won’t Surprise You.” Give it a read and then take a look at our favorite morning routine practices (spoiler: they don’t include giving up coffee or doing the insanity workout before dawn).

2. Minimize Your Possessions 

Choosing to live with less and to be more intentional about the items we own is not only better for the earth, but it also benefits our welling, making it an excellent way to practice self-care this year. Remember that minimalist living may start with decluttering and donating items, but this lifestyle is an ongoing choice to only buy what we need and to shop second-hand when possible. 

For inspiration about living with less, check out our library of articles on minimalist living, starting with What Is Minimalism?

3. Invest In Your Community & Relationships

Life is an astounding and beautiful journey, but it can often be lonely and isolating, especially in the past few years. Living in the city as an introvert, it can be more convenient to check out and pretend I’m not isolating myself for fear of rejection. But as Maya Angelou so brilliantly put it, “We need each other as we need the earth we share.” Wherever you’re at and whatever relational needs you may have at the beginning of this year, keep seeking out connections and friendships. Let’s keep investing in one another this year. And let’s also make sure we’re creating environments where everyone feels they have a seat at the table.

4. Choose To Speak Up For Yourself—And Others

One of my biggest resolution for the new year? Believing my voice and experiences are valid—which is easier said than done. To stand behind your words and grant yourself permission to take up space and belong can feel scary, but it’s so important too. Not the words you say or how you say them, but your voice. You, as a person, are worthy of existing, of speaking, of feeling, of experiencing. You belong, period.

And so does everyone else. In addition to using our voices to speak up for ourselves and validate our own experiences, let’s resolve to speak up for others. Sometimes this means using words (like calling people out for discrimination and intolerance), other times this looks like passing the microphone to a person, or group of people, who have for too long been marginalized. Our voices can speak, but so can our bodies—by listening, by showing up, by supporting organizations. To learn more about becoming a better ally, check out this article by Upworthy.

5. Read More & Keep Learning

I love reading because it encourages me to see the world through someone else’s lens. And I like podcasts because I can continue learning about new subjects and fascinating people, even while on the go or during a long commute. For me, reading and learning are forms of self-care. Not only do books make me more confident in who I am, but they remind me that I’m not alone, that others have come and gone before me, and that my experiences are not as unique as they seem. I find comfort in that. And I enjoy being challenged in my perspectives and world views. Here are a few book lists and podcast recommendations to help get you started.

Kayti Christian (she/her) is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for sensitive people.