I was having lunch with friends last week and the topic of New Year resolutions came up. I defiantly (or more accurately, defensively) stated that I hadn't “bothered” to come up with any: I never seem to make any worth sticking to or else end up forgetting them, so what's the point? (As an aside, this does remind me of the Homer Simpson father/daughter advice: “Lisa, the first step to failure is trying.” And yes, I am ashamed of myself for being “like Homer” in this instance.)

The next friend to comment admitted she had indeed come up with a few. Well, wouldn't you know it, out came the most wonderful list of New Year's resolutions: inspired, fun, and with a purpose. I rushed home to write them down. Here they are, including the underlying motivations they serve:

Motivation #1: “I want to fill in the gaps in my knowledge”

Resolution #1: Choose a century (1800s in my friend’s case) and identify what an informed person should know about the events, literature and people of that century. Have fun reading and following up on your self-planned syllabus during the year. Maybe even do it in pairs or in a group. Then choose another century next year.

For those of us who have spent all our waking hours on work and family for the last decade(s), this sounds like a refreshing way to keep learning and growing. Plus you may become even more interesting at (and interested in) those cocktail receptions!

Motivation #2: “I want to lose weight and get fitter”

Resolution #2: Take a 20-minute walk every weekday, and an hour on weekends.

Granted it’s a familiar goal, but I liked the approach taken in the resolution. Much better than saying, “I will lose 20 pounds by June,” which can get complicated pretty quickly: what kind of diet, which gym membership, how do I fit it in my schedule? Resolving to walk every day, on the other hand, is simple to execute: it’s an action rather than an outcome, it establishes a regular exercise habit, and it can be done wherever your travels take you. Plus you will probably feel so good that you will keep it up, and be more likely to achieve the weight-loss outcome as well!

Motivation #3: “I want to stoke my creativity and get out of my comfort zone”

Resolution #3: Learn something new every season.

Whether it is learning to make pottery, trying out stand-up comedy at open mike night, or making a video for YouTube (yes, even if you aren’t a teenager anymore), what a great idea. Winter, spring, summer, or fall – what’s your new project?

As you can tell, my friend is pretty amazing.

What great new resolutions, or new ways to approach traditional ones, have you come across? It’s not too late – Chinese New Year is coming up on February 14th, and you can be just in time for The Year of the Tiger.