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17 New Year Resolutions for Teens (Give Direction to Next Year!)

What makes a good New Year Resolution for teens? Find out, plus get plenty of examples with these New Year Resolutions for teens.

Why should adults make all the New Year Resolutions? Let’s help teens get in on the resolution-making action this year.

teen girl on couch writing out teen resolutions, text overlay,

New Year Resolutions for teens are a great way to get focused on specific goals, feel optimistic about the year to come, and learn some important goal-making habits.

That’s why I’m offering up a bunch of resolution ideas for teenagers, plus how to help them pick the best one to move forward with.

What Makes a Good New Year Resolution for Teens?

Before we go into all the exciting teen New Year resolutions I’ve got for you, I want to talk a little about how to pick and choose from the list.

I mean, what makes a good New Year Resolution for a teenager?

A good resolution would be something that:

  • Is a Priority for Them: You can give your teenager a resolution to do…and they might take it to heart. But if you really want them to internalize this process and go for it? It needs to be a resolution that means something to them.
  • Stretches them Just Enough: If the resolution stretches them too much, then they’ll likely fold in the cards (like we all would). But if it doesn’t pose any kind of challenge, then it won’t help them grow. It’s best to pick a goal that’s within reach to meet.

So, how do they come up with a “good resolution” (besides picking from the list I’ll provide below)?

#1: Give them Prompts

When helping a teenager come up with their own resolutions, it’s helpful to guide them with some fill-in-the-blank prompts:

  • I’m committing to…
  • I want to…
  • A change I want to make in my life is…
  • It’s important to me to…
  • In one year from now, I want to be/do/have/accomplished…
  • It’s New Year’s Day, 2022, and I’m so excited that I…
  • A habit I’d like to break is…
  • A habit I’d like to build is…

#2: Help them Filter through their List with some Criteria

When they’ve written a list of possibilities, then help them to narrow things down by figuring out where the resolutions fall on these meters:

  • I’m very excited about this, versus I’m just so-so excited about this
  • This is going to push me out of my comfort zone, versus I can get this done in a day
  • Doing this will help to accomplish something that I want to in life, versus doing this will make my parents/teacher/friends happy

Psst: some of these goal setting worksheets for teens PDFs, goal setting worksheets for kids, and my article on examples of good and bad smart goals for high school students should help with this.

#3: Come Up with Good, Better, and Best Milestones

You then want to make sure they’ll know when they’ve reached success. But to only celebrate a huge milestone? Well, that will probably leave them upset or not wanting to do resolution-setting again.

Instead, come up with good, better, best scenarios for what success looks like for that narrowed down list of resolutions (1-2).

Whew – that was a lot, but I truly think those tips and guidance will help any teen come up with and worth through a great New Year’s Resolution.

New Year Resolutions for Teens

Now it’s time to go through lots of examples of great New Year Resolutions for teens!

I’ll categorize them into more general New Year Resolutions, and then give specific goal examples within those resolutions that you can pick from.

Teen Resolution: Spend More Quality Time with People

Would your teen like to spend more quality time with people this year? Here are some goals to help them achieve this resolution.

1. Do a Genealogy Project with Their Grandmother

About 8 years ago, I spent several months working with my grandmother on a full-blown genealogy project. I learned how to cook some of our cherished family recipes, I learned SO much history about my great grandparents, and I even did a bunch of research afterwards (based on the info my grandmother gave me) and created a recipe genealogy book for our family.

Such amazing memories this created, and I’ve created an heirloom to pass down!

2. Make an In-Person Interaction Out of 2 Online Interactions (Each Week)

Having mostly digital conversations with our friends and family is not necessarily a good thing, especially when teens are still learning how to socialize and how to assert themselves in front of others.

Your teen can resolve to take two of their online interactions they’d normally have on a smartphone or computer, and do them in person.

This could be stopping themselves from sending an email, and instead talking to a teacher in person. Or stopping in to see their grandmother for a visit instead of texting her a photo or hoping she sees a Facebook update.

Psst: you might want to check out my articles on 100 things to do at a sleepover, 28 cheap things to do with teenage friends when bored, and 11 teen party games to help your teen figure out ways to do more in-person interactions.

3. Start a Pen Pal Relationship

Yes…writing a letter is still a thing.

Not only is getting a pen pal a great experience for the other person, but your teen will learn about their lives as well!

Teen pen pal resources:

Teen Resolution: Work on Their Future/Next Steps in Life

Is your teen focused on setting goals and passing milestones that will help shape their future? Check these out.

1. Work Towards a Multi-Year Project

Have you ever heard of The Congressional Award for youth? It takes several years to complete, and will teach your teenager so much just going through the process.

Did I mention this would be killer for a college application and resume?

You can start at 13.5 years of age.

2. Apply for a Competition

You win zero competitions that never apply for, right?

It’s a great challenge for your teen to enter a competition at least once a year (once a quarter is even better). Who knows what might happen!

These could be:

3. Create a Resume

The cool thing about resumes? Is once you go through the process of creating one, you just need to update it every 6 months or so thereafter.

So, the hardest part is doing the first one! A great goal for a teen to have.

4. Build their First Budget

Your teen can use one of these free teen budget worksheets to create their first (of many) budgets.

Psst: definitely check out these short term financial goals for high school students, intermediate financial goals for teens, and teen long-term goals.

5. Get their First Job

Could be a side-hustle-type job, where your teen is earning money through job apps for teens, online surveys, and teen focus groups, OR, could be:

Helpful Resources:

Teen Resolution: Help Others/Be More Service-Oriented

Does your teen want to work on being of service to others? Here are goals/resolutions they can choose to support this resolution.

1. Complete X Number of Volunteer Hours

Resolve to spend a certain number of hours donating their time this year! I’ve even got a sweet list of volunteer opportunities from home.

2. Mentor Someone Younger

When I was in high school, I had a really enriching experience where I used my Spanish studies to mentor/help the ESL students in elementary school.

Who can your teen mentor this year?

3. Donate a Box of Belongings

Teens grow and change…and sometimes, it takes several years before they intentionally go through their belongings and purge.

Your teen can resolve to go through their closet, their bookshelf, and their belongings, and donate at least one box of goods somewhere in their neighborhood

Pssst: don’t forget to get parent permission before purging anything! They might have something they’d like to use it for, or someone specific to pass it down to, or any number of other objections.

Teen Resolution: Build Better Habits

Your teen can focus on building better habits (and losing some unwanted ones) with these goals/resolutions below.

1. Do a Digital Detox

Whatever amount of time your teen is spending online or in front of a screen, have them take it down two notches for a night, a day, or a weekend.

For example, they could resolve to do a screen-free Wednesday night. OR, they could choose a weekend digital detox sometime during the year.

In fact, the whole family could get in on this!

2. Resolve to Keep their Room Cleaner

One way I found to keep my room cleaner as a teen was to actually create the kind of room that I wanted to keep clean.

SO, I set out to (very cheaply) spruce things up to my new-teen self. Then, it was a cinch to keep it picked up!

Teen Resolution: Grow Out of their Comfort Zone

In order to grow, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. These goals/resolutions will help your teenager do just that!

1. Try a New Hair Cut

I don’t know about your teen, but when I was a teen? It was a huge shift out of my comfort zone to change my looks (even though I secretly wanted to!).

Stretch themselves by resolving to change their hair cut in some way once, over the year.

2. Learn to Cook By Contributing One Dish a Week

Pretty soon, your teen will be heading off to young adulthood. It’d be great if that’s not their first time cooking for themselves!

One fun way to teach teens to cook is to have them choose one new recipe to make each week. Let them pick it out, and put the items on the grocery list that they’ll need (remind them to check for the items first in the pantry/cupboards! Another great lesson in meal planning).

3. Try One 30-Day Challenge a Month

There are 12 months in a year – how would your teen evolve and grow if they decided to take one 30-day challenge each month?

Some fun 30-Day challenges to get them started:

  • 30-Day Gratitude Challenge: Each day, write down 3 things you are thankful for in your diary/journal/notebook/post-its that you stick to a board/etc.
  • 30-Day Yoga Challenge: I personally follow Adriene’s free yoga on YouTube, and was delighted to learn that she’s got kid and teen yoga videos, too! Like this one. Or this one.

4. Wear one thing slightly outside of your comfort zone

When I was a teenager, I got into a style-rut (mostly around the color black, and jeans) because I was too afraid to “step out” into something new.

This can be a great goal to stretch your teen – while maintaining appropriate clothing rules per their household and school.

Encourage your teen to stretch themselves to wear a different/new color. If they only wear bright colors, then wear a darker color, and vice versa.

If they only wear pants, then try out a skirt.

Also, here are more goal ideas they can turn into resolutions:

I hope I’ve given you tons of great examples for awesome New Year resolutions for teens, and a framework to help with choosing the best one for you and your teenager. I’d love to hear your resolutions in the comments, below! Think about where you could be just one year from now by working on this.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.