Tips for Your “24 for 2024” List

a number that is written in sparklers on a black background

Every year, on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, my sister Elizabeth and I do the Happier Trifecta to set ourselves up for the new year.

Many people don’t like making New Year’s resolutions, and the exercises of the Trifecta offer a fun (and still effective) alternative.

The Trifecta for 2024:

  • One-word theme—Elizabeth’s is “Book” and mine is “Revisited”
  • Yearly Challenge—this year’s challenge is “Write 24 in ’24
  • “24 for ’24” list—see below!

Research shows that when we set specific aims for ourselves,  we’re far more likely to achieve them. So taking the time to make a list of things we want to accomplish during the year can make a big difference to our happiness.

However, how we approach our aims can make a big difference. For instance, because many people have bad associations with “New Year’s resolutions,” they prefer to use the tools from the Trifecta.

By reframing a task, we can make it seem more fun, more manageable, or less intimidating. For some reason, people love a “24 for 24” list!

There’s no right way or wrong way to make this list—whatever works for you.

As you consider what to add to your “24 for 24” list, these suggestions might spark ideas:

Have fun with the number “24”

  • read 24 novels
  • stretch for 2-4 minutes every hour
  • give up technology for 24 hours
  • keep the hours of 2-4:00 pm meetings-free
  • go for a long hike twice a month (2 x 12)

Be concrete, and frame items as actions, not outcomes

“Try 24 new recipes” or “Prepare meatless meals 2-4 times per week” works better than “Become an accomplished cook” or “Cook more”

Divide your list into categories

Consider the Vital Nine categories of habits to choose areas to work on:

  1. Energy: exercise and sleep
  2. Productivity: focus, work, progress
  3. Relationships: connect and deepen
  4. Recharging: relax and rest
  5. Order: clear and organize
  6. Purpose: reflect, identify, engage
  7. Mindful Consumption: eating, drinking, spending, scrolling
  8. Mindful Investment: save, support, experience
  9. Creativity: learn, practice, play

For instance, you might divide your list into Energy, Productivity, Order, and Creativity, with six items in each category.

Choose a mix of big, small, and whimsical items

I always include one item that I can cross off immediately and also throw in a few easy ones, like “Buy a space heater for my office.” Some are tough tasks, like “Get caught up on my physical photo albums.” I always have a few fun ones, such as “Plan a perfume night with friends.”

Build your list around a single theme or aim

If you’re especially excited about your one-word theme, or you have a big challenge or transition coming up in 2024, you may want to devote your entire “24 for ’24 list” to that area—it’s all about “Evolve” or about your move to a new city.

Include items that are fun or revitalizing

Many people fill their lists with things they should do and don’t include items they want to do—especially Obligers (see below)! Obligers, use your “24 for ’24” list to create outer accountability for things that are fun for you. Playing tennis, getting a massage, reading in your favorite chair on Sunday afternoons…that aim can go on your list.

Consider your Tendency

Take into account whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel. (Don’t know? Take the free quiz here.)

  • Obligers—find an accountability partner for tackling the “24 for ’24” list, or find a form of accountability for  individual items; also, the “24 for ’24” list may itself serve as a form of accountability
  • Questioners—consider tracking your aims, customizing a plan, or articulating clearly why you’ve decided to put something on the list
  • Upholders—spell out your items clearly and add them to your calendar, if possible (I find that I do much better with an item when it actually appears on my schedule)
  • Rebels—remember, this list isn’t a “to-do” list but a “could-do” list, and it’s meant to help you do what you want, when you choose, to put your identity into the world

Aim for progress, not perfection

Elizabeth and I have made these lists for several years, and we’ve never checked off every item. Nevertheless, we’re always happy we did it.

Find a way to display your list

Making an engaging display of your list can be fun, and it also helps to keep your list uppermost in your mind. I’ve seen people do beautiful, creative things with their lists.

Or if you want to keep it simple, download this free PDF, print it out, and keep it somewhere you can refer to it throughout the year.

Learn from the past

If you’ve tried and failed to keep a resolution in the past, try approaching it in a different way. Don’t decide, “I’m doing it wrong,” “I need to try harder,” or “I’m lazy.” Ask yourself, “How could I approach this aim a different way?” I’ve tried for two years in a row to do daily “review reading,” and I’ve never managed to do it. So this year, I plan to do one hour of “review reading” on Saturdays and Sundays. I hope that changing the habit will make it easier to keep.

Bottom Line: Suit Yourself

It’s much easier to meet our aims for ourselves when we do it in the way that’s right for us. Which is easier said than done!

Good luck making your “24 for 24” list. I find it to be such a hopeful, engaging exercise to set the tone for the new year.



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