Silhouette of a man standing in front of a firework display.

New Year, new resolution. Creating New Year’s resolutions can be difficult, especially when we are faced with a laundry list of things to do or feel like we’re still recovering from last year. Here are a few tips to help you set goals and resolutions for 2021.

Close out 2020

Last year was difficult for many of us, and it may feel overwhelming to reflect on everything that happened. However, taking some time to review the past year can be helpful. For instance, it can be useful to identify areas where you struggled or the ways you’d like to move forward into 2021. If you’re not sure where to begin, try answering some of these questions in a journal, on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone:

  • What did the past year teach me about myself?
  • How did I cope with stress? What can I do differently this year?
  • How did my relationships (friends, family, etc.) evolve?

  • What do I need to practice doing more or less of this year?
  • What were my most useful resources?
  • What strengths did I discover?

  • What worked well in 2020?
  • What advice would I give my last-year self?
  • What is one small thing I can do to change my life?

​Answering these kinds of questions allows you to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses and priorities moving into the new year. It can also be a great way to identify patterns and themes that you may want to address.

You can also check out YearCompass, a free printable booklet that walks you through a variety of exercises to reflect on the past year while setting goals for the upcoming year.

Think small

In many cases, you may notice that your areas of interest or improvement can be broad: be healthier, save money, make new friends, land a job or ace every class. All of these are great goals to have, but sometimes larger goals can feel daunting or difficult to achieve. Our advice: break them up into smaller, more manageable steps. 

For instance, if you’re looking to be more active this year, consider committing to one virtual fitness class each week, take the stairs instead of the elevator or go for a short walk each day. 

If you’re looking to make friends, consider joining a student organization or inviting a classmate or two to study with you or attend an event each week. Focus on small achievements that will help you get closer to your end goal while keeping you motivated. Remember, it’s the little things that tend to have the greatest impact. 

Focus on habits

Creating habits is one of the best ways to reduce “resolution fatigue” and keep you from falling off the wagon part way through the year. Even if we have fool-proof reasoning behind our goals, our motivation to follow through with those activities can begin to dwindle, especially after the initial excitement of the New Year wears off or as life becomes more hectic. Instead of relying on motivation alone, try to create habits that will keep you going even when the motivation begins to fade. Here are a few examples:

  • Working out: Choose and set out your gym outfit the night before or find a friend who will help keep you accountable.
  • Better sleep: Set an alarm to notify you an hour before bed to give yourself time to wind down and prepare for a restful night.
  • Relationships: Create a calendar reminder to call family, friends or people you care about on a regular basis.
  • Hobbies: Schedule time in your calendar or planner to spend time on your hobbies. Be specific about what you’re going to do and when.

Find opportunities for fun

Do you dread the idea of making New Year’s resolutions? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of changes you’re expected to make in a single year? Rather than focusing on all of the things you’d like to change this year, try to focus on things you’d like to do instead.

This may include trying out new hobbies, learning a new skill or getting outside more often. Think about activities you enjoy, have always wanted to do or things you are passionate about. Perhaps you’ve never visited the Denver Art Museum, explored Rocky Mountain National Park or you just want to give back through volunteering. Come up with 10-12 activities that you’d like to do this year that feel attainable and make a list. Keep in mind that COVID-19 will likely impact our lives into the New Year, so it’s important to choose activities that you can enjoy and complete in lieu of the pandemic. Each month, look back at your list and decide which activities you’re going to conquer. Not only will you be fulfilling your resolution, but you’ll actually enjoy doing it, too!


  • Peer Wellness Coaching: Health Promotion provides Peer Wellness Coaching to all undergraduate students for free. This service connects students with Peer Wellness Coaches who can help you set and achieve your goals or connect with resources to help. Learn how to connect with a Peer Wellness Coach.
  • Virtual Workshops: Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) has a variety of virtual workshops that are open to all students. Here are just a few that may help you achieve your goals this year.
    • Feel Better Fast: This three-part series is designed to help you make positive change in your life by learning mindfulness techniques and ways to cope with distressing emotions and thoughts. You will learn how to make balanced decisions, self-soothe, take a step back from your thoughts and live by your values.
    • Healthy Living: This weekly workshop covers a variety of topics, including body image, nutrition and eating, physical activity, sleep, stress management and self-care.
    • Anxiety Toolbox: This seminar provides life-long tools you can use when facing anxiety-triggering situations. This intervention is not intended to "get rid of" your anxiety, but to provide a starting point to integrate skills into your daily life that can help reduce your anxiety.

      Learn more about CAPS workshops.

  • Recreation Center: The Rec Center is open to students! You can join your favorite trainers for virtual classes, sign up for an outdoor adventure, try out personal training and more! Explore all of the ways you can find your fit this year.
  • Wellness Wednesday: This weekly program provides a space for students to engage in self-care activities, learn about campus resources and build community. You can participate in a variety of activities or have a one-on-one conversation with an emotional wellness peer educator to create a personalized self-care plan. Wellness Wednesday is free and open to all students. Learn more about Wellness Wednesdays. 

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