12 New Year’s Resolutions for Introverts

When I was a teenager, I did something sacred every New Year’s Eve. I collected a few sentimental items—like the school newspaper I was published in or the animal-shaped eraser my best friend and I had an inside joke about—and put them in a box. On a piece of paper, I wrote about the highlights of the year and my hopes for the future and put that in the box as well. Then I sealed the time capsule with duct tape, wrote a warning to not open it until New Year’s Eve next year, and hid it in the basement. That’s because, even as a kid, I regarded the New Year as a time of reflection. I guess you could say my “introverted” ways began young.

I don’t do this today. As an adult, I feel a year goes by quickly now. But the New Year is still a time of reflection for me as, I imagine, it is for many deep-thinking introverts. And for many people, introverted or not, the New Year is a chance to start fresh.

So, with the New Year just around the corner, here are 12 resolutions you could make as an introvert in 2017:

1. Say no to social events that promise little meaningful interaction. We’ve all been there. A coworker or acquaintance invites us to such-and-such get together. We feel obligated to attend because we don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings or appear to be rude. But deep down, we know the Mary Kay party or the after-work happy hour won’t be fulfilling. In fact, it will not only lack meaningful interaction but also drain us (introverts have limited energy for socializing). If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a good chunk of your life saying yes to social events out of guilt—and then you paid for it with exhaustion, overstimulation, and an overcrowded schedule. Of course, there are some things we probably shouldn’t skip, like our best friend’s baby shower or our grandpa’s 90th birthday party. But this year, make a resolution to pass on any unnecessary get-togethers you feel will drain your introvert battery, not energize it.

2. Back away from one-sided relationships. Sadly, introverts can be targets for toxic or emotionally needy people. Adam S. McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church, explains why:

“Because introverts are typically good listeners and, at least, have the appearance of calmness, we are attractive to emotionally needy people. Introverts, gratified that other people are initiating with them, can easily get caught in these exhausting and unsatisfying relationships.”

Do the words exhausting and unsatisfying relationships call to mind some people in your life? Reflect on those relationships, and consider whether it’s time to back away from those people. You’ll get the bonus of freeing up more time and energy for the people who do fill you up.

3. Stop beating yourself up for that awkward thing you said…3 years ago. Introverts have a tendency to ruminate. Our overthinking may take the form of playing events over and over and over in our minds. Rumination can strike at any moment, but, as is the way with things, it tends to happen at the most inconvenient time, e.g., when you’re trying to fall asleep. Sadly, rumination can give way to anxiety and depression—and it rarely helps you solve the problem you’re chewing on. To break free from the rumination cycle, do something to interrupt your thoughts. For example: talk to someone, call to mind a positive memory, or put on some music. Try this introvert’s playlist of songs to help you switch gears and stop overthinking.

4. Build regular alone time into your schedule. I recently sat down with introverted Indie rocker Jeremy Messersmith to interview him for my upcoming book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. He told me about a smart practice he’s been doing for quite some time: he makes sure he gets enough alone time by scheduling it once a week on the family calendar. That way his extroverted wife won’t feel hurt when he says he wants to be alone, and they both can work together to protect his restorative solitude by not scheduling other obligations at that time.

5. Quit pretending to be an extrovert. Research from the University of Maryland suggests that acting falsely extroverted can lead to burnout, stress, and cardiovascular disease. Turns out, embracing your introverted nature isn’t just a feel-good axiom—it’s actually good for your physical health.

6. Get over your guilt of leaving the party early. Have you ever started saying your goodbyes at a party only to hear someone say, “You’re leaving so early? We’re just getting started!” These types of statements used to fill me with guilt. Why was I the only one getting burned out and wanting to leave? Did people think I didn’t like them? But eventually I realized this guilt was unproductive. I’m the one who will have to deal with the “introvert hangover” if I stay longer, not them. Now, I proudly declare I’m tired and head for the door.

7. Have more meaningful conversations and less small talk. Research suggests that the happiest people have twice as many meaningful conversations—and do less surface-level chitchat—than the unhappiest.

8. Recognize that you can’t do it all—and that’s okay. I have an extroverted friend who always has her hand in something. If she’s not organizing a brunch with our friend group, she’s volunteering at her son’s pre-school or heading up a committee at work. Sometimes, I wish I had her energy because she really does seem like she’s doing it all. But I have to remind myself that my talents lie in deep analysis, reflective thinking, and quality over quantity—not in running around doing all the things.

9. Speak fearlessly. Speak up when a friend or family member violates your boundary—even if it rocks the boat. Share your ideas in the staff meeting even if your voice shakes and the words don’t come out as eloquently as you want them to.

10. Don’t discount yourself as being capable of leading. Introverts can be powerful leaders. In fact, it has been reported that 40 percent of executives, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, describe themselves as introverts. Gates believes introverts can make good leaders because they know the value of being alone and focusing deeply. Speaking at an engagement in 2013, he said:

“I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, and push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.”

11. Spend your free time the way you want. Don’t do something just because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do. Susan Cain writes in Quiet,

“Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.”

12. Embrace who you are. Above all, remember to work with your introversion instead of fighting against it.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, what are some of them?

Share your thoughts.

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  • Curtis Tention

    Thank you Jennifer! Great article. It is really refreshing to be apart of a community that understands the mindset of introverts.

  • Jamie Jakubik

    I can definitely relate to 1, 2 and 3. I have learned what I value in friendships and how not all relationships are created equal. I invest time and energy as I see fit…..and then try my very best not to overthink why the friendship is the way it is 😉 I’m slowly but surely getting better at this!

  • Claudia McGhee

    Another New Year
    Morning of January 1, 2017

    A new year, a hope, a glimpse of what could be,
    as if a bright new city waits to be built
    with my heavy blocks of time. I know their shapes,

    call out their names: Sleeping, waking, weathered church
    of stone. Walking, spring planting, I carve my steps
    and this labyrinth one intersecting street

    at a time. Writing, reading, I touch each word,
    set quarried keystones home in open doorways.
    Showering, eating, mowing the lawn. Doctors,

    car mechanics. I blossom in the deluge
    of songs, loves voiced by partner, family, friends;
    the vast bedrock of their caring cradles me.

    Yes, this new year will pass. Still, as it spills by
    in hurricane winds, dawns and sunsets unseen,
    in narrow streambeds now dry, still I will hope.


  • Michael Grech

    Wow great advice!

  • Tom Howard

    wow! great, I needed this. thanks, ………… tom

  • Niki W.

    Excellent list Jennifer! Thank you for sharing!

  • Brian Hanson

    In avoiding emotionally “needy” people (#2), what you are recommending is for people to avoid people who are mentally-ill, depressed, sick, in need. Introverts, who are at higher risk of becoming depressed by abuse in child-hood are just the type of people who can become mentally-ill. If others stayed away from and backed off from you when you were ill (“needy”), what type of society does that make? Are you backing off from a reminder of what you are? If you accept yourself then maybe you can accept others, and help as you are able to help, while taking care of yourself. Shall we back off from, avoid, reject, and leave alone the physically ill as well?

    • Brian Hanson

      Can we challenge ourselves to see what is good in “the needy’? Is there anything good in them? You can’t love or appreciate anyone else until you love and see what is good in yourself. How did you do when you were ill or “needy” and were abandoned? Is that the society we want to make? You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

    • Sebastian Schleussner

      She doesn’t say anything of that sort. “Reflect on those relationships, and consider whether it’s time to back away from those people.” If the person in question means something to you and you feel your listening makes a difference, that will factor into said consideration. There are persons in actual need (though mentally ill and depressed above all ought to get professional help); there are also healthy persons exploiting others’ helpfulness, the toxic ones in Jennifer’s description. The bottom line is, to be able to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself. Just allowing everyone to use your emotional energy indiscriminately leaves you too drained to be of use to those who truly need it.

  • I appreciate these tips very much. I just wanted to comment on the link that I see between #7 and #2. I agree that meaningful conversations are the best; I would rather have a 2-minute high-quality conversation than an hour-long superficial one. Yet, speaking from experience I would also caution introverts against being too easily drawn into deep conversations with people they do not yet know and trust, simply because they’re reluctant to engage in small talk. Sometimes those needy people you refer to in #2 are the very ones who want to get into deep topics right away. As an introvert I have made the mistake of thinking I’m really close with someone when in fact the other person is more interested in having their own needs met. I think introverts should be prepared and able to make chitchat as a way of maintaining boundaries. It can be a useful tool for self-preservation.

    • Ariel

      It’s always a good idea to vet the right types of people.

    • CuriousMind

      What you say is true , Jeannie… It’s odd how I only notice about it right now. I’ve always thought if I be kind, open and helpful to people, they would be my friend. Alas, they only treat me well if they need me… Otherwise, I’ll be invisible to them. (Feeling sad that friendship does not work that way)
      Nice advice, by the way, Jeannie.

  • Steven Freear

    I actually start my New Years resolutions a few months early, when there is less pressure. This year it was to keep a daily bullet journal and I have been doing it since October.
    If a resolution tails off, then no one need know about it on 1st January. If it keeps going it has already become a habit, so I can be seen to keep going when other people fall by the wayside.

  • Shanti Roy

    I stopped my excessive rumination when I realized that I was getting upset over something I would do or say over and over again. It felt like a waste of energy and emotions to keep getting upset when I was bound to make the same stupid mistake again.
    The rest is a great list and it’s inspired me to make a NY resolution list just for my chronic fatigue.

  • 122490

    Thanks! good list/advice to go by for the new year 🙂

  • Teto85

    Thank you very much. I have a hard time with number 5, but I am improving. The others I have down pretty well.

  • Myra alport

    Jennifer, your article is a keepsake! I’ve been making it a point to better balance my free time alone with social interactions and hope to continue this practice into the new year!

  • Carolyn Barry

    I so agree with these resolutions.

  • nosrap

    This hit the nail on the head in so many ways. My extroverted husband wears me out sometimes and then I have to retreat into my own space for awhile. Thankfully we both realize it’s what keeps our relationship intact.

  • Elizabeth Westra

    Thanks, Jennifer, for reminding me that I don’t have to apologize for being quiet or wanting to be alone sometimes.

  • Shemayil Lail

    Excellent advice!

  • Phillip Fine

    Great advice, Jennifer — particularly the advice about avoiding excessive rumination. That’s one habit I’d like to break, even though I find it very hard to do. In fact, I still obsess over spats that happened more than 15 years ago, although I know that doing so likely harms my mental health and wellbeing.

  • Paul Dextraze

    Good reminders. Thanks for helping me remember that having solo processing time is crucial.