January Bucket List—What to Do With Your Life This Month

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Raise your hand if you’re ready for a fresh start. Let’s be real, 2022 was a blur and January seems to have snuck up on me faster than I’d like. Though many of us are still carrying last year’s problems with us into 2023, there’s something about a new year that just feels hopeful and refreshing. This time around I’m especially ready to skip the post-holiday slump and embrace a new beginning. Enter the January bucket list.

No matter what’s behind us, January is a time to regroup, set intentions, and get inspired for the year to come.

While new years past have centered around goal setting, trip planning, calendar scheduling, and socializing, this time around I’m keeping things simple. As we head into a new year, I’m focusing on what really matters, and the things that make me feel the most alive. Whether it’s amping up my self-care, discovering new music, bingeing a new series, or connecting with others, there are so many ways we can awaken the joy inside us every day. Scroll on for our January bucket list with ideas that are sure to leave you feeling relaxed, energized, and ready for whatever 2023 brings.

Featured image by Kristen Kilpatrick.

Image by Michelle Nash

50 Ideas to Add to Your January Bucket List

1. Make a new playlist. There’s nothing like new music to leave us feeling refreshed and inspired for the year to come. Curate a brand new mix of tunes to work, run, clean, cook, and live to.

2. Binge-watch all the best new shows. Because I’ve already finished “Emily in Paris” season 3 (I know, I know). Lucky for us, there are plenty of new shows releasing this month. Get ready for “Ginny & Georgia” season 2. The spinoff “That ‘90s Show” will pick up where “That ‘70s Show” left off. For more premieres, see here.

3. Find your new favorite workout. No, you don’t have to join a gym or sign up for a cycling membership just because it’s January. But if you want to find a new way to move your body with joy, that’s something we support. Have you discovered the simple pleasure of taking a walk? Do you know how good it can feel to stretch out before hopping into bed? Can you work in a quick pilates routine before diving into work? Ask what will feel good for you and work with your life, and follow those cues.

4. Cook your way through our favorite soups. The time to be cozy is now—these easy soup recipes will help.

5. Tidy up your digital space. Every January bucket list should include this. It’s hard to come back to work with a clear head when your desktop is full of junk. Clean out your old downloads, remove unused apps, and delete unnecessary files so you can start fresh.

6. Shop from your favorite local businesses. Whether it’s your regular restaurant, neighborhood boutique, or small grocer, don’t forget to support some of the local businesses that mean the most to you.

7. Send a handwritten card. Nothing brings me greater joy than writing or receiving a handwritten note. And while long, touching letters are lovely to open, you can write a simple sweet card and the sentiment will be just as strong.

8. Get a head start on spring cleaning. Sure, March and April may mark our natural craving for a cleaner, clutter-free home, but there’s no better time than the present to begin the process. Steal our tips for getting a jump-start on our favorite time of year (yes, really).

9. DIY your own candles and treat yourself to an at-home spa day. If you’re the type to burn through candles faster than you can re-stock, have a go at making your own. It’s affordable, fun, and you might be surprised how simple it is! Get started with this guide.

10. Reassess your wardrobe. Are there items that you haven’t worn since 2020? Things you’ve grown out of that you’re keeping out of shame? It’s time to let those pieces go to new homes. Make like Marie Kondo and take everything out of the closet and assess each article of clothing one by one. Does it spark joy? No? Time to set it free.

Image by Michelle Nash

11. Get your healthy eating back on track. From smoothies to soups to veggie-packed bowls, balance out your holiday indulgences with one of these delicious recipes.

12. Buy yourself flowers. Because you always deserve something beautiful that’s just for you.

13. Join a book club. After moving to my new city, I joined a book club immediately. It’s been a great way to keep my reading list inspired and to make like-minded new friends.

14. Try new ways to get your leafy greens. Is eating healthier on your list of intentions? Know this: making it happen doesn’t have to be hard. We tapped a nutritionist to share her tips for getting more dark leafy greens into your everyday diet.

15. Revamp your morning routine. If you have a morning routine, amazing! (If you don’t, here’s everything you need to start.) The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on any changes or additions that need to be made to your routine. Take a little time to reassess your rituals. Are the habits you’ve built into the early hours still serving you? Is there anything that’s missing? Update accordingly.

16. … and create a nighttime routine. Up until a few months ago, my nighttime routine was pretty much nonexistent (unless we count regularly falling asleep on the couch with the TV still on a nighttime routine). Inspired to create a change, I started going to bed earlier, turning off my tech an hour before, and getting into bed with my journal and a book. The result is a much happier, better rested, and more aligned me.

17. Prioritize your pleasure. We’ve made significant progress in transforming the conversation surrounding sexual health, and in 2023, we’re turning up the volume and talking about it all the more. To put your own pleasure front and center, check out this list of the best intimacy oils and lubricants, according to a sexual wellness educator.

18. Rediscover your love of smoothies. Smoothies aren’t just a summertime staple. They’re also an easy, tasty, and aesthetically-pleasing way to get your greens, fruits, and veggies. Consult this roundup of the prettiest smoothies for the perfect winter weekday breakfast.

19. Sign up for joy-sparking newsletters. Newsflash: Your inbox really can be a source of happiness—stay with me. To prove this fact, we rounded up our favorite inspiring newsletters on subjects that run the gamut. With everything from sustainability to mental health to strategies for cultivating emotional intelligence, consider this your comprehensive list.

20. Learn something new. I’d consider this a to-do for every month of the year. Pick something to dive deep into and go all in! Check out books on the subject from your local library, subscribe to related podcasts, and watch all the films. There’s nothing better than becoming an expert to expand your worldview.

Image courtesy of Athena Calderone

21. Decorate with branches. Bring the outside in! Spring may still be a few months away, but there are easy ways to keep our homes feeling fresh and full of natural inspiration. Clip some large-scale stems outside and arrange them in vases for a raw, organic look at home.

22. Create a regular catch-up routine. We all have friends and family members that we love and think about, but whom we don’t get to chat with as much as we’d like. Make it a weekly or monthly habit to get on the phone with college friends, your parents, siblings, and grandparents—or anyone you want to send a little love to on a regular basis.

23. Subscribe to a few favorite magazines. One day of the month, my friends and I celebrate “Magazine Day.” Let me explain—this is the day when all of my magazine subscriptions come in. Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping… Trust me: it’s the best way to spend a totally analog evening.

24. Cross off that project that’s been on your list forever. You know the one. Dedicate a day to wrapping it up. You’ll feel so much better after it’s done.

25. Dive into all things manifestation. Ready to create a life you can’t stop dreaming about? This guide is your answer.

26. Create a reading goal. I love listing out all the books I want to read this year. It’s a great motivator to commit to my favorite habit.

27. Plan a girls’ night. Brainstorm a night to gather with your gals. Go out, stay in—whatever!

28. Host a party just because. Christmas parties and New Year’s gatherings have come and passed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still gather with your friends. And the good news is that you don’t need a reason to gather! Just because is always enough.

29. Find things you love about winter. Once the holidays have wrapped, it can be challenging to get through the cold months. Sit down and write out a list of all the things you love about the season. The coziness? The warm drinks? Be sure to commit to your favorite things all throughout the winter months.

30. Make DIY winter decorations. Once the Christmas tree is down, it might feel like there’s no reason to decorate. Wrong! Tape up paper snowflakes, keep the greenery up, and set out all the cozy candles.

Image by Michelle Nash

31. Create a vision board. Ready to commit to a happier and healthier year ahead? A vision board can be the best way to make that happen. Learn everything and get all your inspiration here.

32. Make your favorite warm beverage. There’s more to life than black coffee. Golden milk, chai, matcha, hot chocolate… the list is endless.

33. Take a long walk through your city. I’m sure you’ve heard how fun it is to be a tourist in your own town. Well, it’s true. The easiest way you can do that? Bundle up and set out without a destination in mind. You’ll be surprised by all that you’ll discover.

34. Practice taking intentional breaks. In 2023, we’re looking forward to doing less. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still getting after our goals and pursuing our passions. But we’re also respecting when we need to take a pause. Here’s how to make the most of your time off.

35. Make a list of acts of kindness you want to try every week. Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to spread more good vibes? This list of random acts of kindness is the easiest way to make it happen.

36. Learn a new hand lettering technique. Whether you want to design a seasonal chalkboard at home, send out artfully impressive letters, or simply revel in your own creativity—get started with this ultimate guide to hand lettering.

37. Try out new overnight oats recipes. They’re the easiest, tastiest way to work a bit of much-needed fruits and veg into your winter morning routine. These are our faves.

38. Have a board game night. Is there a cozier way to spend a night in with friends? Gather your nearest and dearest for a little healthy competition and try out our reccos for the best games for game night.

39. Upgrade your cookware. We love shopping for organic produce, ditching toxic household cleaners, and refreshing our clean beauty routines every January, but spring cleaning also starts in the kitchen. It’s no secret that old cookware can be a source of toxins in the household, so check out these clean swaps we love.

40. Create a list-a-day journal. Gratitude lists, lists of things you want to do this month (nudge, nudge), movies you want to see—this is your space to list out anything and everything.

Image by Jenn Rose Smith

41. Find your new favorite journal. To kick-start your new favorite routine! Get my recommendations for the best guided journals here. They’re the easiest way to make journaling a habit you’ll love (and that’s guaranteed to transform your life).

42. Make homemade bread. Quick bread, yeast-risen, sourdough—anything counts!

43. Read a new release. If you’ve always set out to read more in the new year, now is the time. I’m lucky to have gotten my hands on an advanced copy of what I’m already considering my favorite book of 2003: If We’re Being Honest. Reserve your pre-order here.

44. Experiment with the best non-alcoholic drinks. Whether you’re doing Dry January or are committing to all-in sober curiosity, try out these tasty and celebratory zero-proof drinks.

45. Practice better sleep hygiene. If you haven’t gotten on board yet, now’s the time to start committing to more restful nights. Learn everything you need to know to help you get a perfect night’s sleep from our resident expert.

46. Consider skinimalism. An effective, four-step skincare routine? Count us in.

47. Plan a spring getaway. When the temps are near freezing and it’s snowing outside, there’s never a better time to dream up a warm-weather trip. I’ve already got my tickets booked for Paris—where are you headed?

48. Support your city’s sports team. It’s basketball and hockey season, y’all—and now’s the time to show your support! Living in Chicago, I have Bulls and Blackhawks games on my calendar and am even headed up to Milwaukee for a Bucks-Pelicans match-up. Point is, even if you think you’re not a sports person, you might just surprise yourself.

49. Rent a cabin for a weekend. Is there any better way to enjoy the wintry weather? Companies like Getaway offer options that are just a car ride outside of your city—but feel like a world away.

50. Get started on your Valentine’s Day cards. Romantic love may be at the center of the holiday, but I shouldn’t be the first one to tell you that you can celebrate all the love in your life on February 14. Like you would with holiday cards, start creating, writing out, and addressing your own V-Day notes. It’s one of my favorite ways to let the people in my life know they’re loved.

This post was originally published on January 7, 2021, and has since been updated.



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