2020 to 2021
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31 Good Habits You Should Start on New Year's Day

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2020 to 2021
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Kickstart 2021

Sure, everyone says they're ready for a total reset every Jan. 1, but there are indeed many personal habits that you can improve easily — and often for free. These range from the basics such as exercising more and eating better to finding easier ways to save money. When combined, they just might add up to a new you in the new year.

Related: Things You Really Don't Need to Buy in 2021

I'm Decisive
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Visualize Your Day

Does each new year feels like another spin on a giant hamster wheel? Set aside time every morning — even 5 minutes — to simply close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on what the day will (and won't) bring. Savor the sense of calm.

Related: 33 Inexpensive Products to Ease Stress

Make Lists
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Make Lists

People may joke about constantly jotting down what you need to do, as opposed to actually doing it, but a list can help keep you on track, whether it's the morning's errands, a shopping list, or even books you want to read.

Start or Finish a Book
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Read

Speaking of books, decide that you will finally read that book you've always wanted to pick up. It might be a classic. It might be a bestseller. Sit down with it and set a timer on your phone for a few minutes each day. You may find yourself unwilling to put it down.

Related: The Bestselling Book on Amazon Every Year Since 1995

Failing to Max Out Retirement Funds
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Save Your Coins

Whenever you find yourself with coins in your wallet or pocket, put them in a jar or some other container. With contactless payment preferred these days, you probably won't miss the change, and it can add up to "found" dollars for a guilt-free splurge. You may even get a bonus when converting to paper bills, as coins are in short supply right now.

Related: 31 Simple Ways to Save Money Every Day of the Month

Reusable Grocery Bags
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Reuse Bags

In some towns, it's a rule. In all towns, it's an environmentally responsible practice. Cut down on waste by bringing your own bags, whether to the grocery store to the boutique. Keep some in the car in case you forget.

Related: Earth-Friendly Habits That Can Save You Money

covid volunteer
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Commit to a Cause

If you've done a walk-a-thon to raise funds or participated in a community cleanup, you know how rewarding it feels to give back. Select a cause or organization you're passionate about and make donating time, money, or expertise an ongoing part of your life.

Related: 35 Reputable Charities to Help

Expand Your Vocabulary
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Expand Your Vocabulary

No one likes a show-off, but expanding your mind — and your vocabulary — is an investment in yourself. You can buy an inexpensive "word a day" calendar, but why not just open up a dictionary to a random page every day and see what awaits?

Related: Pandemic Phrases That Have Infected Our Vocabulary

Clean As You Go
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Clean Up as You Go

It happens before you realize it: You spend an entire morning picking up around the house — and by nightfall, all evidence of your work is gone. It takes effort, but just pick up as you go, instead of leaving it all until later. Fold the laundry when the dryer is done. Dump the trash after dinner. A neater house is worth the small steps.

Related: Spring Cleaning: 51 Things to Toss Right Now

Recycle
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Recycle

Sometimes recycling seems like such a chore that it's tempting to skip it. Figuring out what belongs in which bin may be even more complicated now that recycling needs are in flux around the world. Find out what your community's guidelines are and commit to following them. Mother Earth will thank you.

Exercise
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Incorporate Exercise

You knew this was coming. Even if you don't feel like you have time for regular jogging or biking, you can fit more movement into your life. Whenever you find yourself standing in line or waiting for a pot to boil or even watching TV, try doing some toe raises or squats or running in place.

Related: Over 50? Change This About Your Exercise Routine

Eat Healthier
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Make Second Helpings Healthier

If you're coming off an indulgent season — and most of us are — you can still turn things around. Think about an eating plan that will work best for you, whether it's something very regimented or simply being a bit more aware. One habit to get into: If you want a second helping, limit yourself to vegetables or fruit; resist reaching for anything else on the table. 

Related: Get Healthy in the New Year: 26 Resolutions for 2020

Cashier Covid
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woman talking on phone
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Offer Compliments

How good do you feel when someone admires your outfit or praises something you did at work? Try to spread goodwill by complimenting those around you. You'll find it makes you feel pretty good too.

Follow the News
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Follow the News Selectively

It seems like you have to be tuned in 24/7 to keep up on every last nuance of the news of the day, but that can be a daunting and draining effort. Allot time to keep up on only the basics, and try not to become overwhelmed. Focus on what you need — and want — to know.

Take a Positive Approach
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Think Positive

We all can be our own worst enemy. If you make a mistake, think about what you could've done differently and move on. Stop dwelling on the negative.

dog walking
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Get Outside

For most of us, the bulk of every day is spent inside. Sometimes a simple walk in the park or around the neighborhood can change your perspective. Make it a point to enjoy nature more.

Related: 12 Outdoor Workouts Perfect for Social Distancing

Finish Projects
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Finish Projects

Instead of feeling like you have 10 things to do at any given time, decide to concentrate on just one or two for a set amount of time. A messy garage, a box filled with old snapshots, a cabinet filled with outdated spices ... tackle them one at a time and you just might end up with a few actually done.

Related: Decluttering Projects You Can Easily Tackle in Less Than 30 Minutes

Salon Covid
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Take Care

Are your nails raggedy or your brows looking a bit shaggy? Decide to keep up your appearance. It's not shallow; it's an investment that will build your self-esteem and contribute to your professionalism.

Build a Spiritual Focus
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Build a Spiritual Focus

It's hard to go it alone. You don't necessarily have to be religious, but in tough times, it's good to have something solid to believe in. Meditate, attend services, read self-help books — anything that helps nurture your soul.

Related: I Started Meditating, and This Is What Happened

happy man petting dog
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Be in the Moment

Time flies, as the saying goes. And often, we realize we've done something without really paying attention. Decide to be more aware this year: Smell that dinner cooking. Watch TV without paying bills at the same time. 

Do Research, for Fun
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Do Research, for Fun

If you've always had an interest in something — oceanography, architecture, film history — delve into the topic. Hit the library. Explore the web. Learning things for your own enjoyment offers personal rewards.

Related: 49 Fulfilling, Productive Things to Do in Retirement

Senior woman painting
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Learn a Skill

Being open to trying something new, from a craft class to a new language, doesn't just expand the mind but also yields some nice rewards — like a new handcrafted scarf, or the satisfaction of navigating a foreign menu in the country's native tongue.

Related: Best Free Online Courses for Retirees

Woman working from home
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Do Some Job Training

Decide to brush up on your job skills and apply them daily. The next time the boss is looking to promote someone, your name just might be at the top of the list.

Related: 20 Secret Tips for Landing Your Dream Job

Nix the Gossip
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Nix the Gossip

Whether it's on your work Slack or at school pickup, it's tempting to join in the gossip. It might be fun in the moment — but when it's negative, you can easily get swept up in drama that you don't need. Break free.

Clip Coupons
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Clip Coupons

Yes, some people take clipping coupons to the extreme (and there are the TV shows to prove it) — but taking a few moments to peruse the weekly flyers from your favorite stores or cruise coupon websites for promo codes will not only save you money but give you a little feel-good boost next time you shop.

Women friends having fun at home dancing and singing in the living room of their Los Angeles apartment.
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Cultivate Community

During trying times, it's important to know you have a refuge. Whether it's with your family, close friends, or a community group, make sure you do all you can to keep the bonds strong.

Incorporate Fun
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Incorporate Fun

Quick — when was the last time you blew a bubble, threw a Frisbee, or ran under a sprinkler? Add more whimsy to your life this year.

Laugh More
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Laugh More

Maybe it doesn't seem like there's a lot to laugh about these days. Even in the best of times, belly laughs are not an everyday occurrence. So when you find yourself truly laughing out loud, savor the moment.

Related: 24 of the Funniest Comedy Specials You Can Watch Online

Be More Mindful
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Slow Down

If you spend your days finding lost keys, misplaced reading glasses, and the like, try to pay more attention to the task at hand, and allow yourself a quiet moment now and then to recharge. 

Online learning
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Listen Closely

It's frustrating to be talking to someone who's checking their phone, looking across the room, or otherwise acting distracted. Decide to be the one person who actually listens — and, who knows, you may start to get that same respect.

Set Goals And Keep Them Visible
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Revisit Goals

As the new year proceeds, keep checking in on the goals you've set for the year. There's nothing wrong with starting anew on something you've let slide. As long as you don't give up completely — no matter what habit you're cultivating — it just may stick after all.

Related: 10 Strategies to Actually Keep Those Resolutions