Kick off the New Year, Windy City-Style

Kick off your Chicago New Year with these resolutions and local tips.

A new year brings a clean slate full of promise and optimistic aspirations. But soon enough, the sparkling enthusiasm of January 1 washes away in the gloom and sludge of a Chicago winter. We get it! According to a poll from YouGovAmerica, a research data and analytics group, 25 percent of adults resolved to live a healthier life in 2022. In fact, the most common resolutions involve improving relationships, personal happiness, and taking better care of our physical, mental, and financial selves. Before the ball dropped, nearly four in five adults claimed that they are very or somewhat confident that they’d stick to their resolutions — that optimism is impressive! But the truth is that while many people make well-intentioned promises to do better in the new year, only about 16 percent are reportedly able to follow through.  

So what goes wrong? Studies show that there are many reasons why new year resolutions fail, including lack of resources, time, motivation, or just faded excitement for the goal. Life gets in the way. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. The majority of people who make resolutions will give up their plans or goals within one to six weeks. Oftentimes, the same resolution is made year after year, with high hopes and quiet resignation on repeat. 

But we can help! We’ve taken the five most common resolutions and added some local options and ideas to help make resolutions more actionable and habit-forming. Give yourself a fighting chance for change with these Chicago-centric New Year’s resolutions. 

Resolution 1: Eat healthier  

Chicago made its name as the Hog Butcher for the World…but that doesn’t mean we don’t like something on the leaner side. The inventive cuisine and brimming pool of talented chefs means that Chicago food is as nutritious as it is delicious. Get started with these favorites:  

  • Vegan and Vegetarian: Amitabul for vegan bi bim bap and Pokiology for fresh veg poke bowls fill you up without weighing you down.
  • Smoothie City: Left Coast for California-inspired grain bowls and smoothies. 
  • Go raw: Chicago Raw is the best resource for the completely uncooked diet and Loving Heart lovingly prepares raw, organic lunch options.
  • Specific Diets: True Food Kitchen is the Chicago outpost for a chain that focuses on an anti-inflammatory diet. Or learn to cook your own meals with Arya Bhavan (she offers vegan, raw, and diet-specific courses), Cozymeal (online classes available!), or put together a group of health-minded friends for a private custom class at the Wooden Spoon.

Resolution 2: Exercise more.

Every gym and yoga class will be chock-full of people with the same idea. Skip the crowds and seek out alternative ways to move your body. Studies show that novelty helps keep an exercise program fresh and fun, so get out and give any of these activities a try:

  • Roller skating gets a dose of vintage fun at the Chicago Athletic Association’s skating nights and roller fitness class. Or if you’re feeling more aggressive, give the Windy City Rollers Derby league a try.
  • Test your stamina and strength with rock climbing or bouldering.
  • Don’t let kids have all the fun. Try adults-only trampolining with friends or to meet other bouncy buds. 
  • Dancing isn’t only for weddings! Whether it’s freestyle (try the ladies-only Dance Dance Party Party) or more structured classes (we especially like Visceral Dance for continuing education and MaZi Dance for dance fitness), getting your groove on is an uplifting body boost.
  • Channel your inner Cirque du Soleil and give aerial and circus arts a gravity-defying try.  

Resolution 3: Get organized. 

Before you hit the Container Store or load up on more plastic bins, invest in your success with a consultation from one of Chicago’s best organizers. By learning the why behind your cluttering habits, you’ll be more likely to keep things tidy well into the new year. Try these proven favorites:

  • Amber’s Organizing conducts a thorough phone consultation so you know what to focus on and prepare for. 
  • Arranged by Erin focuses on small projects, like home and office clearing, to larger issues of chronic disorganization and ADD/ADHD organization. 
  • Chicago Spaces in Order offers packages that range from getting started or full-blown home reorganization and space clearing.

And if you are just looking to haul stuff away, the national chain College HUNKS Hauling Junk Moving Co. will pick up any donations (including furniture) to deliver to charities and non-profit organizations. What they can’t donate, they will deliver to a local recycling or waste-to-energy facility. 

Resolution 4: Learn a new skill. 

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, which means there are plenty of new and different activities to stoke your curiosity. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Archery? Why not! The Chicago Park District has a few archery ranges that offer classes and facilities to help you practice your marksmanship. If you want more structured lessons, check out the North Side Archery Club with classes all over the city for varying skill levels. 
  • Swimming laps is good for your health, but if you want to step up your swim skills, check out the Chicago Water Polo Club. Or get ready for your beach vacation with scuba diving lessons at Learn Scuba Chicago, the city’s only not-for-profit diving school. 
  • Chicago is a comedy playground, so what are you waiting for? Lincoln Lodge Training Center includes female-only comedy classes, voiceover training, standup workshops, and more. Second City classes are practically a rite-of-passage for Chicagoans, and the Southside’s The Revival offers classes and workshops for building a solid comedy foundation. 

Resolution 5: Get a better job.

Whether you want to “quiet quit” or move up the corporate ladder, having the right skills and network can help launch your professional prospects. 

Whether you try one, all, or none of these ideas, know that there’s always something new to enjoy and explore in Chicago, no matter the time of year.  

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