A Fun Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions | Free Printable 20 for 2020 List

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How do you feel New Year’s Resolutions? Maybe they seem way too restrictive or arbitrary for you. If so, I have a fun alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.

What if instead of resolutions that weigh you down, you create a list of things you could do in 2020 to be happier and have more fun? As a busy parent, this could be exactly what you need to be a healthier, happier, and more patient person.

I have your answer: you need a 20 for 2020 list. It’s a fun alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.

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What is a 20 for 2020 list?

I first learned about making these annual lists from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier. If you’re not already listening to Happier, I highly recommend it.

Gretchen had a listener explain how she made a list of 35 things she wanted to do for her 35th birthday. So Gretchen turned this listener suggestion into an idea we can all follow: she developed the idea to create an 18 for 2018 list.

The main goal of this list is for you to be happier! It will be made up with items that will increase your happiness in the current year.

Unlike a traditional New Year’s Resolution which tend to be so big and unachievable, this list supports the belief that small things also contribute greatly to happiness.

Kyle and I met Gretchen Rubin and her sister and co-host Liz Craft in September 2019.

Stretch Goals vs Realistic Goals

There are many different ways to use an annual list like the 20 for 2020. The list could be focused on work goals, personal life, relationship goals, or home improvement. Since the possibilities are endless, you first want to consider what your feelings about goals.

Do you prefer to set stretch goals or realistic goals?

Stretch Goals

  • Are you a person who prefers to aim high and know you’ve made some progress towards a ambitious goal?
  • You’re okay with starting because it gets you more motivated to make changes that something realistic?
  • Stretch lists prioritize the ambitious thinking while realistic lists prioritize what is achievable and attainable.

Realistic Goals

  • Are you a person who prefers to check everything off as done?
  • Do you value finishing?
  • Does completion feel better to you than progress?
  • Realistic goals prioritize getting things done.

For 2020, my list is ENTIRELY realistic. In January we are having a baby.  We already have two kids.  I just want to have fun and thus, a 20 for 2020 list is the perfect alternative for New Year’s Resolutions.

Get Serious about Fun

In order to make a 20 for 2020 list not just a giant to-do list, it has to be at least partially about fun.

Gretchen Rubin also advocates scheduling time for fun. I feel this is so important for modern parents.  In my experience, the key to happier parenting is taking breaks for fun and your personal goals and dreams that are unrelated to parenting.

One reason you might have be unsuccessful with your New Year’s Resolutions in the past is it seems like even more work. Modern parents are already overstretched and overwhelmed. That’s why a 20 for 2020 list works well – it encourages us to prioritize fun.

You probably wouldn’t say your New Year’s Resolution is watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video. But it’s pretty reasonable, and in fact, encouraged to add that to a 20 for 2020 list.

Is it easy for you to blow off your to do list and binge watch shows without guilt?  It you add it to the 20 for 2020 list, it makes it an intentional way to rest.  You will probably take fewer fake breaks like mindlessly surfing Facebook when you plan your fun purposefully.

Make Your 20 for 2020 List

Here’s what you need to do to make a 20 for 2020 list:

  1. Print of the free printable 20 for 2020 list.
  2. Feel free to brainstorm on the list because you can always print another copy!
  3. Choose no more than 1-2 habits on your list.  Seriously don’t put floss daily, walk 10,000 steps, go to bed at 9:30 every night, and eat a salad for lunch.  That’s too much even for super high achievers. Choose 1-2 habits maximum.
  4. Think about nagging tasks or projects that would be fun but you don’t make time for it: uploading all your family photos, creating a photo book, painting a room, or redecorating an area of the house.
  5. Add in tons of fun activities you can accomplish in an afternoon.

My husband, Kyle’s, list at the time of publishing this post.

Consider What is Fun for You

What is fun for someone else might be tedious for you. While organizing a closet is fun for me, it might be a horrid nightmare for you.

A one-day ski trip? Your dream come true. For me? No thanks!

You can think about the different areas of your life when you come up with your fun activities.  Here’s the areas I use and some ideas:

Family & Friends

  • X Date nights with your spouse or partner
  • X Happy hours with girlfriends
  • Play with your kids outside X times

Financial & Work

  • Go out to lunch with colleagues X times
  • Listen to an audio book during your commute X times.
  • Save $x,xxx for the bathroom renovation.

Fitness & Health

  • Reach 10,000 steps a day
  • Try one new exercise class.
  • Make a healthy crock pot recipe

Fun & Faith

  • Read X books.
  • Watch X show.
  • Write in gratitude journal x times in one month.


Choosing a mix of the types of tasks and the areas of your life makes your list something you can stick with.

Recapping A Fun Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

Here’s the summary for all you busy parents:

  • If New Year’s Resolutions feel like much work, there is an alternative.
  • You can make a 20 for 2020 list.
  • You can focus on things that are fun and will increase your happiness.
  • Determine if you do better with a stretch or a realistic list.
  • Print the list and get to brainstorming.
  • If you want to add habits, think of your top 1-2.
  • Think about a nagging task or project that might make your happier if you complete it.
  • Think about how you could have more purposeful fun in your life.
  • Consider including items for your family and friends, finances and work, fitness and health, fun and faith, and the foundational stuff that needs to get down.


2020 could be your best year yet.  No matter when you read this post, it is never too late to design your year to increase your happiness, health and well-being.

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