22 Great New Year's Resolutions According To Real Dads

As a father, New Year's resolutions can be a valuable goal-setting tool. These men are using them to set the bar higher.

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Father bonding with daughter in the garden in Guarda, Serra da Estrela, Portugal
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New Year’s resolutions are easily dismissed as obligatory or arbitrary or downright unrealistic. But the idea of performing a personal inventory, thinking critically about what needs to be changed, and pushing in that direction remains powerful. After all, the only way to change is to try to change. Does it always work? Of course not. But the process of self-interrogation and planning is always instructive, an annual lesson in selflessness. That’s why so many fathers set resolutions, using them to demand better of themselves in the coming year.

Eager to understand what sort of resolutions good dads were making, Fatherly reached out to a number of fathers, speaking to them about their goals for the coming year. The takeaway? When deeply considered, even emotional problems and male insecurities can be addressed with action. Here’s what 22 admirable men are planning to do to improve themselves and the lives of their families.

Connect With My Parents

I’m establishing a habit of meditating every single day. Meditation always feels like a chore, but I when I do it regularly, I feel so much better. I become a better dad and a better husband. I’m more patient, and generally kinder to those around me. Second, I’m going to connect with my mother every day. My dad died four years ago, and now she lives alone. My mother is pretty self-sufficient, but it’s important to me to be a better son and reach out at least once a day, whether it’s by phone or text. — Keith, Canada

Create New Traditions

My resolution is to create and uphold a tradition with my kids. As I work in the tech industry, I’m attracted to the idea of going lo-fi. This year, I was thinking of starting a snail mail exchange with my children, especially with the ones who are living away from home. I think it would be very meaningful for all of us in the future. — Eric, North Carolina

Achieve More One-On-One Time With My Kids

My New Year’s Resolution is to spend more time with each of my kids one-on-one. We do a lot of families activities as a group of 4, but I don’t think I get enough time alone with each of my kids. They seem to really enjoy having one-on-one time, and I love it too. I’d like to have time for a one-on-one activity once per month. — Marc, Pennsylvania

Read More Books

Read more. Man, I didn’t read a damn thing growing up. Now, being an avid reader, I can only imagine how much better off I would have been. So, every day, my wife and I sit and have reading time. It is simple, but it is great to have 30 minutes of just diving into a book before getting ready to go to bed. — Nick, Massachusetts

Make Myself More Emotionally Accessible to My Kids

For this new year, I hope to make myself more physically and emotionally accessible to those I love. I’m going to let go of my ego and play dolls with my girls. I’m going to share my feelings about my fears and wants, even if it’s uncomfortable. I’m going to dance with them even if it makes me feel silly; I’ll participate in their imaginative play even if it means I get to be Grandma or Mommy Pig or the dog. A few minutes a day exposing my sensitive side and showcasing vulnerability will strengthen our relationship and help us all to grow, me most of all. — Matt, Utah

Think About My Self-Care

After two years of unrelenting focus on the firstborn … this will be my year of self-care. — Chris, Brooklyn

Model A More Active, Healthy Lifestyle For My Kids

I want to be a better model for a healthy lifestyle for my kids and spend way more time being active with them. I want to drink way less, and not at all when they are around, because I think it’s not the best thing for them to see. I also want to follow up more as a dad and basically take “we’ll see” out of my lexicon because it’s a shitty placeholder. — Patrick, Ohio

Be Healthier For My Son

My goals are health related but not for the usual, i.e., look good with shirt off reasons. Having my son has made me realize my age, mortality, and also how much healthier I need to be for him — running, lifting, chasing him and protecting him. I need to be in good shape for all that. My goals are in modeling good behavior and addressing health issues before they start. — Evan, New York

Find a Hobby That Inspires My Girls (And Swear Less)

I’m all about teaching my girls the concept of finding their passion and chasing their dreams. With that in mind, I want to have them try a new hobby in the upcoming year. I also want to swear less. My daughters have recently told me they are going to start fining me a dollar for every time I swear. I also want to learn how to braid hair better. Apparently ‘I’m the worst.’ And, I’d like to go on a date. — Vivek, Canada

Look at Screens Less

My New Year’s resolutions are to work hard to make each of my four boys believe that they’re my favorite. I also want to cut down on my screen time and spend more time reading — my goal is reading one book a month (and listening doesn’t count). — Eddie, New York

Exercise More, Cut Out Sugar

One, Stop the journey to dad bod by exercising more and in different new ways (i.e. add yoga, push-ups, etc). Two, Get my kids into more physical activity and join them in it. This means going to the park and playing ball together rather than just taking them to the playground and sitting there. Three, Stop eating sweets. There’s going to be some trickle down crap that comes from having kids. Putting a hard stop on sweets should help halt some of that. — Ty, New York

Delegate More Tasks

I’ll try to outsource as much as possible so I can have more time for my kids. — Peter, Connecticut

Create New Family Bonding Experiences

My goals are health related but not for the usual, i.e., look good with shirt off reasons. Having my son has made me realize my age, mortality, and also how much healthier I need to be for him — running, lifting, chasing him and protecting him. I need to be in good shape for all that. My goals are in modeling good behavior and addressing health issues before they start. — Evan, New York

Stop Using So Much Plastic

Working for SeaWorld and being in charge of rescuing marine animals, I see firsthand how plastics and trash affect and endanger animals, so we are making two family resolutions this year that are truly important to me: first, our resolution is to not ask for kids’ cups at restaurants, since they are single-use plastics. The second resolution is to pick up and properly discard trash whenever we are at the beach. I want my kids to take an active role in protecting the environment, and these are simple steps we can take as a family. — JP, Florida

Write It Out

My resolution is to journal more. I find, with children and a restaurant, much of the world just buzzes by, and I want to find a way to slow it down. By keeping a 15-minute daily journal it is possible to see the craziness a little more clearly. So, I have asked for all the requisite gifts to accommodate a leather journal, nice paper, and a dedicated pen. Here’s to recording my life and savoring the moments. — Bret, New York

Manage My Anxiety

My New Year’s resolution is to get ahead of my anxiety. It actually put me in the ER this weekend, for no real medical reason, because I just couldn’t contain it. I worry about the toll it is taking on my health and I wonder how much of that mojo my kid is picking up. My tactics will include less coffee in the morning, regular vigorous exercise, no sugary sweets, and maybe a little mindful meditation. — Ben, New York

Try To Learn All The Time

Be more like the person I want my kid to be when they grow up. More specifically, focus on learning one new skill a quarter, not being afraid to fail (or ask for help), and doing so in a structured and measurable manner. I figure if I can’t make myself do it and walk the talk, then how on Earth can I ever hope to motivate my son to do the same? — Alan, Texas

Be More Consistent

I want to be more consistent in everything I do. Including spending quality time with my family, with all phones and devices shut off. They are a huge distraction to me. — Jason, California

Take a Beat Before I Yell

Learn to take a breath before yelling … in the hopes maybe I’ll yell a little less. — Jonathan, New York

Be In The Moment

Less screen time, more playtime. — Ramon, Connecticut

Train For A Big Hike

The Presidential Traverse is a 23-mile hike that summits ten presidential peaks (9,000 ft of elevation gain) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. To complete it in 24 hours you need to be in great physical and mental shape. This would be a good test of will. I plan to train for the hike all spring and summer and then hike it in July when there is still a lot of daylight. — Mike, New York

Be More Affectionate With My Kids

I resolve to openly demonstrate to my sons that I love them, in words and deeds. — Larry, Connecticut

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