Your Grotto Guide to Taking on the New Year

Make a fresh start for 2021 by using this guide for making new year's resolutions.

Many of us are looking forward to the fresh start that the new year brings. That also means many of us are hoping to move into the new year with big plans — things we couldn’t and just didn’t get done in last year that we’d like to take on in the next 12 months.

Let’s first just establish that even if you have big goals and dreams, you are enough in your entirety right this second. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t keep striving to be better, but it is important to recognize that your self-worth is not tied to what you do or do not accomplish. 

Regardless of whether you’re a resolution-maker, a goal-setter, or a word-of-the-year-picker, the resources below will help you in setting a resolution and sticking to it, as well as different topics you may consider exploring for your resolution.

So what will this year bring for you? Are you trying to pinpoint how to be happier? Will this be the year of making big life decisions? Will you aim to get your finances, health, or faith practice in order? 

The possibilities are endless, but customizing your new year goals to set yourself up for success is key.

Choosing a New Year’s Resolution

If you’ve already decided you’re making a new year’s resolution, set yourself up for success by downloading our free guide for how to make new year resolutions; it’s full of reflection prompts and goal-setting exercises to help you tailor your resolutions to your goals and lifestyle, which will only increase your chances of actually sticking to it.

So how do you make successful new year resolutions? One way to go about it is to reflect back on your younger self about what went well in the past few years and what hasn’t. Base your future expectations in past reality by answering these questions:

  1. What did I do for others, and what did I fail to do?
  2. How did I treat people well, and how did I treat them poorly?
  3. How much time did I spend thinking about myself, how I felt, and what’s best for me?
  4. How much time did I spend thinking about others, how they felt, and how I could help?

If you’ve made resolutions in the past, look back at them. Which were successful and which flopped? Did you use the SMART method to set realistic and time-specific goals?

And just remember to look around for ideas. New year’s resolution inspiration can come from podcasts that resonate with you, friends and family, or even the pope and our Catholic faith. Or take a page from the Grotto team’s new year’s resolution ideas. However you come to decide on your resolution, make sure it aligns with your values so you’re less likely to ditch it by February.


Click to download this free guide to making meaningful resolutions.

Following Through on Your Resolution

Sure, making a new year’s resolution is great. But when the newness wears off, follow-through often wanes, too. Here are some tips for sticking to your resolution and meeting your goals.

  1. Understand how to use intrinsic motivation. External motivations will only get you so far before their appeal wears off. Align the pursuit of your resolution with seeking autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
  2. Challenge yourself to build your grit. Doing hard things builds our resilience and capacity to accomplish even harder things. Climb the difficulty ladder and achieve goals through self-disclipline by purposefully choosing to do the hard things.
  3. Harness fear. Grappling with fear of failure? Overcome fear by making use of it. Fear means you’re growing. Use it as a driving force to expand your horizons.
  4. Channel flow. One of the simplest ways for how to get better at something is to incorporate deliberate practice and find the sweet spot that is “flow” — a place outside of your comfort zone but not too difficult that you find your efforts stall.
  5. Intentionally develop habits and routines. Why are habits important? They take the guesswork out of what choices to make throughout the day. Without routines, it’s easy to succumb to what is “urgent” rather than important or valuable. Effective habits and routines can help you establish better time management skills and achieve newer heights in reaching your goals.
  6. Be patient with yourself. Try to remember that no one is perfect, and we should be reaching for progress, not perfection. And while you’re at it, try to move away from comparing yourself to others. This is your resolution and your journey, not theirs.

By tailoring your new year’s resolution to fit your values, your lifestyle, and the current limits you hope to break through, you’re setting yourself up for success.


Self-care new year’s resolutions are common, which makes sense — taking care of ourselves can lead to less stress and better well-being, and all too often, life gets busy and we forget to put effort into caring for ourselves. 

Let’s not forget why self-care is important; it encompasses your whole person and ensures you’re refilling your own cup before continually giving to other areas of your life. According to Julia Hogan, therapist and author of It’s Okay to Start With You, self-care can be defined as “any practice that promotes your overall well being.” That includes all of the following categories:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Relational

Check in with yourself. Do any of those categories feel neglected at this point in the year? It might be worth brainstorming ideas that address your low-ranking categories.

You can always just start with a few self-care basics. Three easy self-care practices are getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and maintaining a supportive group of friends and family. Remember, self-care is not selfish. Saying “no,” setting healthy boundaries, and making room for silence can all benefit you, but might feel out of the ordinary to actually do.

Ready to dive in and commit? To kick things off in 2021 with a self-care bang, you could commit to Grotto’s free 30-day self-care challenge


Another classic category of new year’s resolutions centers on physical health. From eating better to working out, the new year always feels like a fresh chance to make our health a priority. Physical and mental health are both important though, so make sure you’re healthfully approaching your resolution and making it for the right reasons.

Looking for tips to start working out again? Four essentials to following through on a workout resolution include the following:

  1. Determine your goals. What’s the end goal? Have a finish line to keep in sight to help with follow-through.
  2. Find a type of workout that you love. It’s so much easier to commit to doing a workout when you love it. Find something that you’re excited about doing.
  3. Come up with a plan and commit. Your plan should be customized to you: work with your schedule, be reasonable, and allow for sufficient rest. Check out our guide on how to make a workout plan.
  4. Ask for help and accountability. Enlist others to keep yourself accountable — confide in a trusted family member or friend and ask professionals when you need help. The only true failure is to just not try.

Once you’re up and moving, consistency is key to results. Wondering how to stay motivated to work out? Here are 6 tips:

  • Have a clear reason why you’re working out.
  • Set small practical goals.
  • Make it an easy process by removing obstacles.
  • Ask for help when you run into problems.
  • Track your progress to see the bigger picture.
  • And be kind to yourself.

Perhaps you’re further along in your fitness journey and you’re looking for how to enjoy running. Or you’re looking forward to creating a custom workout plan to push yourself to a new fitness level. Or will this be the year you tackle a half marathon (check out our free half marathon training guide)? Like in any of these resolution categories, customize your resolution to your lifestyle and values to make it truly stick.

If you’re looking to incorporate better eating into your new year, examine exactly what would best suit your needs. Do you think making a meal plan and learning how to meal prep would help you stick to your goals? Are you interested in first experimenting with detoxing from sugar? Maybe reading some Whole30 Diet lessons might help you pinpoint what your eating habits are missing.

As with all things physical health, make sure you’re checking in with yourself mentally. Exercise benefits your mental health, but you need to make sure you’re starting from a healthy perspective, too. If you’re suffering from body dissatisfaction or negative body image, it may be difficult to make healthy, realistic goals for your physical health. Make sure you know how to take care of your mental health and that it doesn’t take a backseat to your physical goals.


Click here to download a customizable workout plan.

Mindfulness & Mindset

Focusing on cultivating mindfulness and a growth mindset  in the new year could help you in more than just a boost to your mental health.

Mindfulness can start simply with a focus on living in the present: every day is filled with opportunities to appreciate where your feet are planted and not to immediately move onto “what’s next.” Living in the moment is a simple gift to ourselves and others, as attention to those around us recognizes their dignity as fellow humans. 

Learning about being present is an ongoing, personal journey for each of us, but mindfulness experts do have some tips that can aid our efforts. We can practice everyday mindfulness by truly slowing down, tuning into each of our senses, and intentionally making time for reflection. And when you’re feeling like you’ve gotten off track, follow these steps for how to center yourself:

  1. Realize and acknowledge you are lost.
  2. Don’t waste time berating yourself.
  3. Pause to identify where you went wrong.
  4. Look to other people for guidance.
  5. Get right with the people in your life.
  6. Pay close attention going forward.
  7. Use your experience to help others get back on track.

Perhaps you could benefit from a shift in mindset on your path to being more mindful. If you’re looking to live life more intentionally, thinking in different ways can help change your mindset. Carve time out in your day to incorporate reflection, wonder, and creativity.

On the path to growing and becoming the best version of yourself, developing a growth mindset can help us embrace learning and build upon our strengths and weaknesses. 

Have you noticed a weakness in your relationships or internal dialogue in a certain aspect of your life? You might start with the following list to examine if these are attributes you aspire to embody in the upcoming year:

We’re often trying to seek out success and happiness, but don’t miss out on the process of finding yourself while you’re discerning how to follow God’s plan.

More Resources


Do you want to focus on getting your finances in order in the new year? It’s easy to get stressed about money, which is why it’s best to have a plan.

If you’re financially independent or aspiring to be, having some financial goals in mind can help you put tangible next steps into place. In college? Download our free financial checklist for college to give you an idea of what you might be able to tackle this year. Out of college? Check out these recommended financial actions to take before 30. And here’s a list of short term financial goals that apply to everyone.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, learning how to live on a budget and stick to that budget is a great first stepping stone to meeting larger financial goals. The self-discipline of using a budget will teach you how to stop spending money unnecessarily and help you implement saving for retirement basics. Download our free budget spreadsheet that you can customize to your own needs and lifestyle.

Looking for more financial inspiration for setting your resolution? Check out this roundup of the best financial advice this daughter of an accountant received. 


Is the next calendar year your opportunity to turn your focus outward in generosity to others? Grotto’s Make an Impact category was designed with this purpose: to provide inspiration and information about how small acts of generosity can make a difference in the world.

In Grotto’s archives, you’ll find everything from 10 easy ways to make someone smile to pay-it-forward ideas you can do on a budget to 75 random acts of kindness ideas for every situation. We believe that in being kind to others, and loving others even when it’s hard, we have an opportunity to glimpse God’s mercy for humanity and to recognize God in everyone, no matter their circumstances.

Is the idea of service speaking to you for the year ahead? To truly understand how community service can be important, start simply with these three steps:

  1. Serve those close to you. Simple ways that you can help family and friends can get your gears turning about how these acts can help others.
  2. Consider your own gifts. Identify your talents and brainstorm ways that you can use those in service to others.
  3. Trust the process. Serving others shouldn’t be something you rush through. Conversations and relationships you build while in service to others can be just as important as the work itself.

In making a resolution to serve others, evaluate what serving others sustainably looks like in your life. How can you incorporate service without burning out?

  • Examine your calendar. How can you make room for service with the time you already have available?
  • Identify connections you already have to find opportunities to volunteer, rather than finding a random cause on the internet.
  • Seek out service opportunities that hold meaning to you. The more enthusiasm you bring to it, the better the experience will be both for you and the group you are serving.

Looking for more inspiration? Turn to stories of young people who have found community by serving others and learned a valuable lesson about how to treat people after a year of service.

Perhaps the reason we’re called to help the poor and vulnerable is not because we’re more fortunate, but to become more open to also being served by others. Every single person has something to contribute to our lives because of the mere fact that we are all created in the image of God.


Perhaps the perfect resolution for the upcoming year is to turn inward to focus on your faith life. We’re all coming from different points on the spectrum; perhaps some of us are wrestling with feeling distant from God or grappling with trusting God. Others may be getting back into simply talking to God, beginning to pray again, or going back to confession. And yet even others might be getting their footing in learning to talk about God and share their Catholic faith.

Wherever you are in your faith journey, Grotto stands with you. We’re all on a path to seeking God, and surrounding yourself with an online and off-line communities by finding a parish can help in that process. Make connections, ask questions, and remember, this is bigger than all of us, so it’s going to take time. But we’re here with you through it all — the struggles, the questions, the awkward middle, the slide-backs, the triumphs, and the joy.

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