26 Things Every Person Should Do for Themselves Once a Year

26 Things Every Person Should Do for Themselves Once a Year

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Thought Catalog recently wrote a post about the 26 things every person should do for themselves at least once a year. Some of the ideas were wonderful:

* Listen to CDs you forgot about, songs from 2007 or your junior high dance. There are few things as small, inexpensive and absolutely THRILLING as your favorite 90s song playing in the background as you complete your menial tasks of the day, and there’s nothing as oddly entertaining and perplexing as listening to the songs you did in high school, or even last year.

* Rearrange your space. Even if it’s just moving the TV or changing the orientation of your bed, a shift in the layout of the room you spend the most time in actually does change the way you perceive it.

* Take yourself out to dinner. Eating alone is often very calming (if you can get past the cultural notion that you should always eat with somebody, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t!). But eat dinner by yourself, at a restaurant, at least once. You’ll see what I mean.

* Visit a new city. Even if it’s small and only 30 minutes away, do what you can manage. See what hole-in-the-wall bars and small town diners and quirky coffee shops exist in places you wouldn’t have thought to look.

* Plan a date for somebody. A real date. A I made reservations here’s the dress code I will pick you up at 7 everything else is a surprise date. A plan for two weeks and get your hair cut and bring flowers and wine date. Everybody deserves to have that, and everybody should know how much time and effort and care it takes to execute.

What would you add? I’d say: Learn to tell a good joke, shower by candlelight (even a two-minute shower feels so relaxing!), replenish your underwear, tell a friend or even a stranger that they’re a good parent, and go on a rambling walk without a destination.

P.S. The trick to life, and why we sleep together.

(Photo by Nastya Jour)

  1. Alice says...

    I second yours “learn to tell a good joke” Joanna! Such a good one!
    For me, I would say I’d learn to cook, dance more, and make more trips happened.

  2. Cheryl says...

    Make yourself a ‘girl’ cave. Use that craft room or the guest room. If there isn’t a room, pick a quiet corner you can make just your own. I went many years with my girl cave corner, decorating it just for me. When my daughter moved out I took over her room and it is now my girl cave and work room. It’s decorated just for me. One section is just my cuddle girly-girly place and half is my craft and work area. I even bought myself my own printer. I kept the bed but found a beautiful quilt at a discount store and put up filmy drapes. I scraped off all the little girl wall paper and am in the middle of painting a mural. I’m not too good, buy hey, it’s MY space. I do refuse to spend all my time there but knowing I have a happy place just my own is a wonderful feeling.

  3. sasha says...

    I try to pamper myself in small ways as often as I can. A few of my favorites:

    – Take a bath with all the stuff! Bath salts, bubble bath, candles, use the good stuff. We all seem to be saving the good soap for guests but I say break it open!
    – Get your make up done by a professional, at a department store or shop. It’s fun to see what someone else will do with my face. And sometimes I learn a new trick.
    – Go to a new class – I recently dropped in on a belly dancing class and loved it! I now try to go every week. I’m not good at it but it’s fun and a great core workout.
    – Pick out a nice bottle of wine and open it! and pour it in to the good wine glasses…not the usual Ikea juice glass.
    – Do it yourself facial at home. Get a mask, some scrubbing beans and a heavy moisturizer, lock the bathroom door and have some alone time that results in great skin. Double points for pairing this with a hair mask!
    – Sit outside in the fall or winter in the sun with a blanket and read a book or just doze.
    – Make an extravagant dish and eat as much as you want. Beef Bourguignon or a roast lamb or make your own gnocchi. Cooking can be so restorative and eating is even better!

  4. Denise says...

    It’s been a beautiful seasonably warm fall and the sunrises have been nothing short of spectacular. It is the absolute best time of the day for a bike ride. You haven’t lived until you’ve biked towards a sunrise with Joni Mitchell singing through your earplugs or anyone actually. Awe inspiring and necessary.

  5. I’d add, do that one thing you’ve been meaning to do but just haven’t had the time to do it yet thing. Yeah that, do that.

    Also a shower beer. Enjoy a good shower beer.

  6. I love all of these tips! I would also add finding your passion or pursuing your passion, if you’ve found one. Life can get so hectic and taking that step back and doing something that you are passionate about can bring you back down.

  7. I love this list! I would add: Do something for your inner child. Often as a parent I always have to be the grown-up or role model, even if my daughter and I are playing. But sometimes it’s great to indulge and feel that childhood glee for myself. Adult coloring is a big trend now, and for his 45th birthday, I bought my husband the Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego set. We’ve been adding a little bit late at night when our toddler is asleep and hiding it away. It’s been so much fun to do something you enjoyed as a kid.

  8. Nectar says...

    A wander walk sounds like such a good idea!

    I would say take yourself out on a date. I usually like taking myself out to dinner, sit in the bar area and then see who I end up talking to. You’d be surprised how friendly other dining guests are that are sitting next to you!

  9. This list is spot on! With exception to the last one, I find certain fulfillment in achieving all of them. I’d add this: Do at least one daredevil activity. Something physical, something that will send chills up your spine and absolute relief + smug on your face once accomplished. I’m not exactly a thrill-seeker but I love giving myself a bit of a scare sometimes! (I tried rock climbing and white water rafting this year. I almost backed out on both occasions but I’m happy I didn’t!)

  10. I would add the following to the list:

    Learn how to spend time alone and treat yourself. I make sure to ‘treat’ myself once a week. It varies from week to week and how I am feeling (and how my anxiety is!) lately its been watching a movie and enjoying some ice cream other times its buying myself something that I wouldn’t normally buy like nice earrings or a book or sit in a coffee shop with a piece of cake and read for an hour or so. I find it keeps me sane and helps my mental health.
    I also think its fun to be a tourist in your own town, take a tour of an old place, go to the museum, spend a few hours really exploring your city. Its so easy to walk by the tourist areas and there is a reason why they are so popular so check them out for yourself.
    Go away for a night, go somewhere close (think 20 minutes down the road) and spend the night there it can do wonders for your headspace. Plus you get to escape without going very far and it doesn’t need much planning at all.
    Find a charity you love and get involved with them. Not just a donate money to them involved either! Actually volunteer and spend some time and get involved with the workings of it. I am a Youth Ambassador for a mental health charity ( and its been the best thing ever and I love knowing that I am making difference.

    • OllieB says...

      Erin Maree I have to say I love your ideas. I suffer from anxiety and I can get so caught up in anxiety mode, I can’t make a decision, I feel like a caged cat and end up feeling guilty for my mental health issues.
      Thanks for making me feel better. I would like to volunteer for our local NAMI. You gave me motivation. Thank you.

  11. Hannan says...

    A relaxing massage!

    • rach says...


  12. Anne says...

    weird. i ordered the butter keeper for my mom (don’t even know how i got to the idea) yesterday and now i read this post :) funny coincidence!

  13. going to a movie by myself, favorite thing in the world to do.
    book author talks are nice, subscribe to the local bookstore mailing list already! :)

  14. Great list! The first one is a staple for me in my daily routine (currently listening to no doubt radio!)

    Also love the visiting a new city idea especially nearby. Even sometimes going to a mall or restaurant 30 minutes away can be refreshing and make me feel less stuck in my habits.


  15. These are such great ideas! I would add: go to the beach, go to the mountains, sit in a hot spring, buy a dress that you love that is for no reason other than you love it, and get a massage : )

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love these!!

    • I think host a dinner party should be in the list too. ha!

  16. Love this so much! Self care is so important

  17. Could not agree more on the “replenishing underwear” one! I kept putting that off, rifling through dozens of pairs everyday that I hate to find the few that I actually didn’t mind wearing…finally bought a bunch of new undies and felt like a new person!

    Also, I like the reviewing your year suggestion. My husband and I do that together every New Year’s, and I also like choosing a word for the year!

  18. Hai Yen says...

    I absolutely love taking myself out to see a movie or have a beautiful, relaxed lunch at a cute cafe. I would also recommend taking a road trip to visit a friend, that solo driving time (especially if it’s a scenic drive) is wonderfully soul-soothing.

  19. Samantha says...

    I would add to seclude yourself from the world for a day or two. When you’re always surrounded by people, have a partner, kids, group chats, it’s hard to have some space to yourself. I understand it’s easier said than done, specially if you have kids, but once a year it so not selfish to send the kids over to the grandma, tell the husband/bf to have fun with his friends, and stay in a hotel in the city, have a spa day, or kick everyone out and have the house to yourself! Eat whatever you want, sleep all you want, watch whatever you wanna watch, it’s awesome! I’m a very needy person, but sometimes you just need to detox from people.

    • Leah says...

      Totally agree! Even if it’s just having the house to yourself.

  20. I set a goal every year to learn to something that I think is hard so I can continue to grow as an individual. Some years it’s a fitness goal, some years it’s been understanding certain statistic theory, and other years it’s far more simple. This year I decided I’d try to learn how to bake a couple of things really well. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of baking bread but decided to start simple and I DID IT! For my other non-skilled bakers, here’s the recipe:

    Thanks Jo for always posting awesome articles- it’s the highlight of my afternoons each weekday!

  21. Caitlin says...

    I love (occasionally) dining, having a drink at a bar, or going to a movie solo. I did it more often when I lived in NYC though, most likely because it was easier to pop in somewhere on my walk home. There is something very empowering about being able to hold your own and feel comfortable alone.

  22. purge purge purge! i used to be terrible at throwing things away but since i moved to nyc and my apartment has a limited amount of storage space, i’ve had to be better about hoarding things ;) it feels great to do a deep clean of everything once a year (or more if you can!)

    BUT always doublecheck what you’re throwing out/giving away/leaving behind! i accidentally once threw out a necklace by being careless while purging!

  23. Thank you for your sweet tips! I don’t rearrange my space very often but, you are right, it makes a huge difference when I do. It just feels good.

    I would add TRAVEL to a different country. Learn about new cultures and traditions. It’s like pressing the reset button. You return with a new outlook on things.


  24. All these suggestions are spot-on. If I were to add something to the list, I’d suggest paying for someone’s meal anonymously. There’s something very special that happens when you do this. I get butterflies in my tummy and sometimes get emotional too.

    Once I paid the bill for a grumpy senior citizen who was eating alone and was sitting next to me. She complained several times about her meal and just looked incredibly sad to me, like she hadn’t smiled in a long time. She had on a wedding ring too and I wondered if she’d lost her husband recently. When I was done with my meal, I whispered to the server that I wanted to pay for the senior’s bill and she bristled and was a little surprised. When I explained that I thought maybe she could use a little good news, she softened and agreed. I paid both bills and left, never knowing her reaction but my heart smiles when I think about it.

    I’ve done this several times since, sometimes it’s a mom and a little kid or a service member, like a fireman, police officer or military personnel. When my son was little I’d ask him to pick someone which he loved to do.

    It’s just a little something to feel connected in a way that’s not with 1s and 0s, but instead with Xs and Os.

    • This is so moving, I’m going to put this on my list of things to do occasionally. What a wonderful way to make the world a better place!

    • So touching. I’m adding doing nice things for others to my list!

    • Jessica says...

      Thank you! This made me smile and teary. I’m going to do this!

    • Emmanuella says...

      I love this! Someone has anonymously paid for my meal twice in my life and it felt so wonderful and special, I try to pay it forward. Although one of those two times my boyfriend admit to me weeks later that his card was declined at the restaurant and he suspected someone felt they should “give the poor guy a break by buying our meal.” I’ll never know for sure though.

  25. One of the things I enjoy so much about blogging is taking my laptop and heading to a indulgent coffee shop alone. I order a soy latte and a cookie or something to nibble on, and suddenly I’m in relaxing into my writing and truly enjoying some ‘me’ time. It doesn’t always take a lot – I love staying home with my daughter, but sometimes enjoying a late in a real cup vs a to-go Starbucks run makes all the difference :)


  26. M says...

    So many great tips- especially purging your home, wardrobe and inbox of junk. I feel so much happier once I’ve sorted out and minimized the clutter around me. It’s like a weight being lifted :)

  27. I often rearrange my space when I’m procrastinating schoolwork, and I do pretty well with taking myself out to dinner, or at least out to Chinatown to get some good bubble milk tea :P I really like the idea of planning a date for somebody! :D -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  28. That is a fabulous article. The entire list resonated with me, but especially #6 and the line “Perceiving a lack from others is usually a reflection of what we aren’t giving enough of in the first place.” I feel like that could be a game changer to keep in mind throughout the year!

  29. Love these! We just moved a lot of furniture around in preparation for the new baby, and it makes our small house feel so much better!

    A screen vacation is a good one, too!

    I’d add re-evaluate major life decisions: are you spending enough time with your family? With your spouse alone? Is your career on the track that you want? If so, is it too much of a priority over relationships? Etc.

  30. lindsay says...

    the first one makes me think of one evening my husband and i spent drinking beers and playing each other our favorite songs from many years ago, and sharing the memories we associated with them. the music jogged so many memories of stories neither of us had heard from each other yet, and really brought us closer. it was one of my favorite “dates” ever.

    • Love this date idea! Funny how music can conjure memories we might otherwise forget. What a special way to bond with your partner/friends/anyone at all.

    • rach says...

      What a fantastic idea

  31. Amanda P says...

    One of my friends had a New Years resolution a few years back to try one new thing a month instead of a major transition. Some were exciting like sky diving or traveling to a new country, another was volunteering at a food pantry, and one was to sing karaoke (she’s really shy). It was fun because we were able to join her for some of them and other months she used it to conquer a fear or for personal growth.

  32. Beth says...

    Yes! Instead of new year resolutions, last year I started making a ‘birthday bucket list’ of sorts – a list of things I wanted to do before my next birthday. Some were big: move to Chicago, finish my CPA, leave the country. And some were small, things I always meant to do never got around to: watch The Godfather (how had I missed out on this all these years!?), visit a tiny music venue in my neighborhood, go rock climbing.

    I highly recommend it. It made the year delightfully deliberate, even though I didn’t cross everything off. I just turned 27 last week and the new list includes run a half marathon (yikes), make homemade falafel and visit Esalen (props to COJ!).

  33. Spotify is great for digging into my old high school music collection! I was doing that yesterday while working, and it really did make things much more fun!

    I also second the idea of eating dinner alone once in a while. I’ve done it a few times, and it’s very relaxing once you get over the “Is everyone staring at me?” willies. :-)

  34. janelle says...

    LOVE this post. earlier this year I rediscovered all my old albums….incubus, the walkmen, arcade fire, broken social scene….and was totally transported to my previous selves. Excited to read all the comments for more ideas.

  35. I love the first one! CD’s are the one thing I find hard to get rid of because theres nothing like getting out an actual disc and listening to music that takes you back :) Such a lovely list of things.

  36. Jenn says...

    These kinds of motivational or inspirational lists usually just make me roll my eyes, but for some reason when I read it on CoJo, it just really resonates! You could be a therapist, Jo!

  37. That music nostalgia trick – been taking advantage of that for years. I listen to whole CDs from start to finish, and so when I listen to any given album that I listened to a long time before, it sort of flashes me back to the moments I used to listen to that album – what was going on in my life, how I felt, etc. Pretty interesting feeling!

  38. Aga says...

    Take a screen vacation. No phone, no computer, no email, no tv for a day or two.

    Do something for those who need it most. Volunteer. Clean a park. Take home-made soup to someone sleeping on the street. Donate to a (reputable) charity. We’re knitting and collecting hats, scarves, and sweaters for the refugees coming to Toronto! A lot of the suggestions on this list include doing (pricy) things for ourselves and loved ones, but extending our kindness and altruism outside our immediate circle is even more rewarding and important.

    • Lauren E. says...

      I usually buy a bunch of groceries when I’m staying in a hotel for a week because it saves me from eating breakfast and lunch out. At the end of my Thanksgiving stay I had half a loaf of bread, some peanut butter, a few cookies, a slice of pizza, etc leftover so I handed it all to a homeless person on the highway on my way to the airport. It felt so. freaking. good. It was the tiniest thing but knowing someone could use those items instead of putting them in the trash was a real mood elevator. Kinda made me think of Friends and “there is no such thing as a selfless good deed” but if you’re both getting good vibes out of it, why not?! It reminded me that I should do things like that more often.

  39. Alice Quin says...

    Love the plan a date suggestion. Really sweetly put!

  40. Stephanie says...

    I love these and I love how simple they are! Thanks for the tips Joanna! :)

  41. I LOVE the idea of visiting a new city!! I’ll try it soon.

  42. Ivy says...

    Go to the doctor and dentist for preventive care, use your passport, take a family picture

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      really good ones!!!

    • LOVE these!

  43. I would say take yourself on a solo trip, even if just for one night. When I finish breastfeeding this year I am SO looking forward to doing this. Also, maybe go through your wardrobe and makeup/skincare routine and make sure everything is still working for you.

    • I just clicked over and read the whole article, I love it so much! I think I’m going to set out to tackle that list as one of my 2016 goals. Thanks for sharing!

    • rach says...

      Yes! I have an (almost) 4mo baby & I think of all the fun things I’ll do when I’m done b.f. more then one glass of wine, weekend trip with my husband, date nights. (!)

  44. Amy says...

    Joanna you are just the plain best in all the land. Love. LOVE! Reading your words and knowing a bit of who you are.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aw, amy, that made my whole week/month. thank you so much :)