Eight Popular New Year's Resolutions — Plus Expert Tips on How to Keep Them

It's a great year to get crafty.
It's a great year to get crafty. Sunshine Craft Co
click to enlarge It's a great year to get crafty. - SUNSHINE CRAFT CO
It's a great year to get crafty.
Sunshine Craft Co
You've decided to get more crafty or write that first novel. Now what? Here's a look at eight resolutions, along with practical tips from experts about how to actually make them happen.

Get Crafty

Try different things to find the ones you really enjoy, suggests Amy Guerrero, who owns the Sunshine Craft Co. Don’t worry about doing something perfectly. Instead, just get started. “Creativity is an experience not a perfect aesthetic” she says. “So often we get stuck on having just the right space or the perfect supplies.”

Easy starter crafts include simply coloring or making cards for friends using watercolors, collage or hand-lettering. Try buying starter kits so you don’t have to worry about getting the right materials, then invest in more supplies once you know what you really enjoy doing. Guerrero also suggests doing online or in-person workshops.

“Don’t let living in a small space hold you back,” she says. “Keep supplies in bins and pouches you can pull out when you need them.”

click to enlarge Some fun reads we spotted at Changing Hands Bookstore. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Some fun reads we spotted at Changing Hands Bookstore.
Lynn Trimble

Read More

Two things are especially important for people who want to read more, according to Phoenix city librarian Rita Hamilton. “Read what you like to read, and all reading is good” she says. If finding time to read is a challenge, try to connect reading to an existing routine, like having your morning coffee or winding down after work. Keep reading materials with you all the time so you can read when you get unexpected moments.

Changing Hands Bookstore buyer Michelle Malonzo has a few tips as well. Don’t be intimidated by books or feel badly if you’re a slow reader. If audio books are easier, they’re a great choice. Malonzo notes that there’s a great reading community online (especially on Instagram), which can help you find great books and fellow readers to connect with. Local libraries and booksellers are happy to share the titles of their favorite reads, and can help you connect with other readers through various book groups.


Refresh Your Home

“The best way to freshen up a space is to totally reimagine it” says Mackenzie Collier of Mackenzie Collier Interiors. Move textiles, art, and accessories to another space while you really think critically about what you love and want to bring back into the space. “We love shopping secondhand and vintage to find accessories that are totally unique, and it’s a great way to save some money, too” she says.

You’ll get the biggest impact at the lowest cost by painting your walls. Atmospheric colors like light grays, blues, and whites make a space feel larger. Deeper hues like dark grays, blues, and greens usually make a room look more cozy or moody. Buy art that mimics the shape of your wall and go big for more impact.

click to enlarge Hikers on Echo Canyon Trail. - RAY STERN
Hikers on Echo Canyon Trail.
Ray Stern

Start Hiking

People need to prepare before they start hiking, according to Jon Mincks, who teaches classes at Arizona Hiking Shack. Mincks recommends getting fitted in person for a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. Make sure you have sunscreen, a bandana you can wet and wear to cool down, and loose cotton clothing that covers your skin to help protect you from the sun and cactus. Pick easy trails at first, where your total trek won’t exceed four miles, and take along at least two bottles of water. Wear a basic backpack for essentials, including a small first aid kit, a knife, a light, a map, a compass, and an emergency blanket.

Hiker Sirena Rana Dufault recommends taking your cellphone, telling people where you’re going and when you plan to be back, and carrying an umbrella for shade. Take tweezers and a comb in case you need to remove cactus barbs, and have a pet first aid kit if your dog is tagging along. You can learn about hiking etiquette on the state’s office of tourism website, and find more tips in Dufault's new book.

Learn Spanish

“There are a whole bunch of good apps and websites out there but you have to start using a new language with other people right away,” says Hope Anderson, who teaches Spanish at ASU. Spend time with native speakers and other new learners, which will make using the language more practical and meaningful. Look for online or in-person classes, and find opportunities to use the language you’re learning such as reading newspaper headlines or menus. Listen to music in Spanish, watch Spanish TV, and tune into Spanish podcasts.

“Hearing the language will help you have better pronunciation.” It’s not enough to memorize a bunch of vocabulary words of grammar rules. Use a variety of websites and videos so you’re learning in different ways. Some are better at particular aspects of language training than others, and it will help you find the resources that work best for you.

“Mix it up,” says Anderson. “And use the new language every chance you get.”

click to enlarge Author and poet Alberto Ríos. - ANDY DELISLE/COURTESY OF ASU
Author and poet Alberto Ríos.
Andy DeLisle/Courtesy of ASU

Write a Book

The idea of writing a book can be daunting, so author and poet Alberto Rios recommends letting go of labels and baggage that's focused on the finished product. Start by simply writing.

“Start with something that’s your own and that has stayed with you,” he says. “Writing works like a seed; let it grow.”

Habits are important, but different writers have different rhythms. Writing every day helps you get in the habit of writing, but it’s not essential. It’s more important that you find your own pace. Similarly, you shouldn’t assume you need to have a particular type of space for writing. Participating in a writing group is helpful if it leads to more writing, but beware of spending more time talking about writing than actually doing it.

Finally, remember that reading books and having diverse life experiences enhances your writing, so make time for those along the way.

click to enlarge Maybe this year you can devote more time to gardening. - BERRIDGE NURSERIES
Maybe this year you can devote more time to gardening.
Berridge Nurseries

Start Gardening

Gardening can help you slow down your pace a bit, according to Starr Urbatsch with Desert Botanical Garden.

“I highly recommend getting the right tools for your gardening projects; make sure you keep them in good condition and organized” she says.

Good basics for beginners include a shovel, garden spade, kneeling pad, and two sets of gloves — one for light gardening and another for “heavy duty stuff like working with cactus.” It’s also helpful to have a hand pick, pruners, and loppers. Create more shade, and learn about water harvesting.

The garden has workshops and gardening books as do various gardening shops around town. Spend time exploring community gardens to get ideas for your own garden, and swap ideas with others who share your love for digging in the dirt.

click to enlarge This cutie likes strolling around Desert Botanical Garden. - DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN
This cutie likes strolling around Desert Botanical Garden.
Desert Botanical Garden

Get a Pet

Different pets have different personalities, just like different pet owners. That’s why Leanna Taylor, who heads The Arizona Pet Project, recommends spending time with an animal before you decide to start that relationship.

A particular breed might have a reputation for being mellow, but that doesn’t mean every animal in that breed will fit that mold. Think about the space your pet will need, and the cost of things like food and medical care. Puppies and kittens have a lot of energy, so consider an older pet if all that activity isn’t a good match for you.

Once you get a pet, give the animal about 90 days to really adjust to its new surroundings, she says. “Going to a dog park can be stressful for many dogs, so take it slow and selectively expose your new pet to other animals over time.”
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble