It’s a new year here at W42ST, and while we’ve found that making intense (sometimes punishing) resolutions can backfire — it’s always worthwhile to try new things. Besides, maybe one of your new ventures will become a habit, and next year you can tell everyone that it was your most successful New Year’s resolution! Yes, that was your plan all along!
Inspired by The Guardian’s list of 100 Ways to Slightly Improve Your Life Without Really Trying, we’ve borrowed some of their best ideas and added a few of our own New York and Hell’s Kitchen-centric plans.
Let’s be kinder to ourselves, each other, the neighborhood, the city, and the planet in 2022. Once more unto the breach, dear friends!
1) Exercise On A Monday Night
Maybe you did make a New Year’s Resolution to exercise more. You’ve set your alarm, laid out your workout clothes, gone to bed at a reasonable hour, and then…the snooze button. Some dark Sleep Demon stops you getting up and hitting the gym.
For those of us who are maybe never going to be early sunrise exercisers (or who find Monday mornings particularly tough), take the pressure off and try exercising on a Monday night. It’s a great way to kick off your week while easing into your routine. Try a class at one of our many reader-favorite gyms in Hell’s Kitchen.
2) Try the 72 Hour Rule
Looking to reel in those pandemic impulse purchases? If you, like us, found yourself with a tub of barely-used tie-dye equipment at the end of 2021, it may be worthwhile trying the 72 Hour Buying Rule — if you see something you like (or that’s relentlessly pushed at you through algorithmic ads), wait 72 hours before buying it. If you’re still interested (and it works in your budget), go for it! If you’ve forgotten about it — look at you, you’re saving money!
3) Plant Bulbs For The Spring
Waiting out winter in our tiny apartments can be a long and arduous process. Why not invest in floral bulbs for springtime? Stop by a plant store in the Flower District (W28th St bw 6/7th Ave) or local favorite Orchid Man NYC (702 10th Ave bw W51/52nd St) for some inspiration. And don’t worry — if orchids are beyond your skill level, he also sells (nearly indestructible) succulents!
Looking for guidance on how to keep your new plants alive? Check out this essay by Hell’s Kitchen local and enthusiastic plant dad Paul Thom on how best to manage your new apartment greenhouse.
4) Bring Ice To The Party
After a year (or is it years?!) of quarantine, we may be slightly out of practice in the art of human interaction. We’ll make it easy for you — be the hit of every party you attend by bringing a bag (or two) of ice. It’s nearly free, there’s never enough of it, and if by some chance it isn’t used in full by the end of the gathering, your host can store it for their next soirée. And when you’ve completely exhausted your ability to talk with strangers (who, us?!) — you can run out to get more!
5) Try Mood Lighting
Most of us are familiar with SAD lamps, but while effective, they aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. Try an alternative light therapy by turning off your unforgiving overhead light and turning on a variety of soft-lighting lamps, string lights, or using candles (just don’t forget to blow them out!). While winter is the darkest time of the year, we can embrace it by illuminating our apartments like a romantic restaurant.
Looking for candles and want to support local business owners? Check out two of our gift guide favorites, Preston Konrad Home (461 W49th St — west of 10th Ave) and HOME’edged (available online and at Nolita Market).
6) Try The Pomodoro Technique
After a season of holiday parties and OOO-replies, it can be hard to get back into a productive working routine. And while many New Yorkers are still working from home, it’s even harder not to get distracted by the siren song of your couch.
Enter the Pomodoro Technique — a time management and productivity system which breaks up tasks into 25-minute blocks. Work for 25 minutes (set a timer, and flip that phone over!), take a 5-minute break, and repeat. Before you know it, you’ll have completed your to-do list and can deservedly take that nap!
7) Take A Photo Of Important Ticket/Tags
You’re leaving an event and heading to the coat check when you realize…your tag. It’s gone. And you own one of about a thousand black winter coats in New York City. Maybe you shouldn’t have had that third martini…
Do Future You (and the hard-working event staff) a favor and before you turn up, take a quick photo of your coat check tag. You’re way less likely to lose your phone than the elusive paper strip. This strategy also works well for parking garage tickets and receipts/order confirmations!
8) Drink more water
There’s nothing like an unyielding, heat-of-a-thousand-suns New York City apartment radiator — which is all the result of the Spanish Influenza pandemic — to remind you that you should be drinking more water this winter. Make it easy on yourself and buy a comically oversized, reusable bottle with a straw so that you barely have to refill it and don’t even have to open it to get your daily hydration on. We like this one!
9) Always Be Willing To Miss The Next Train
The MTA’s near-constant service changes can be a…challenging…part of living here. Take the stress off by leaving enough time in your commute for two trains not to arrive and still have room to make it to your destination on time. While this seems extreme, anyone who has ever waited 30 minutes for a C train at 50th Street can tell you that it will do wonders for your peace of mind and blood pressure.
10) Be Kind to A Stranger
Yes, we New Yorkers are known for our somewhat, er, confrontational nature. But hear us out — 2020 and 2021 were hard on everyone, so why not inject a little bit of kindness into your interaction with strangers? When you talk to a stranger, wish them a good day, and mean it! And it goes without saying, thank anyone you are interacting with as a customer for their service. It has been a brutal season for the retail and hospitality industries!
11) Ask Questions And Listen To The Answers
It’s been a weird, hard time navigating relationships over the course of the pandemic. Whether you’re catching up with a friend, family member, co-worker, or partner, take the time to ask them a question — and it doesn’t have to be “How are you?”, as that can be a difficult subject for many at the moment! Ask them what they’ve been reading, what their favorite thing to cook is, if they have any good documentary recommendations, what they bought in 2021 and just can’t get enough of (see: giant, oversized water bottle!), or whatever feels right in the moment — take the time to check in, learn from, and deepen your relationships more than merely liking each other’s photos on Instagram.
12) Visit the New York Public Library
Maybe you’ve resolved to read more this year, but buying 50 hardcover new-release books is not in your budget. Alternate trips to local independent bookshops with visits to one of the city’s best amenities, The New York Public Library. The closest HK branch is the Columbus Library location (742 10th Ave bw W50th/51st St), and a short walk away is the Bryant Park branch (5th Ave and E42nd St), which is as beautiful as it is functional. Want to access the stacks from the comfort of your own home? Check out the most popular books at NYPL in 2021.
13) Go For A Walk Without Using Your Phone Or Headphones
Living in the digital age is overwhelming. Take a break and walk around the city with your phone in your pocket (for emergency use only!) and sans headphones. Even a short daily break from the pinging of the inbox and Twitter can reset your state of mind. For a Hell’s Kitchen-centric stroll, walk over to Hudson River Park and head North or South just before sunset. See, you’re breathing more deeply already!
14) Send Postcards
It’s a simple joy to receive mail that isn’t a bill. Send your family and friends short notes (without the pressure of filling up pages and pages) by mailing out postcards — a visual treat with a personal touch!
Pick some witty cards up at reader favorite Delphinium Home (353 W47th Street — east of 9th Ave) or order a set of gorgeously illustrated floral postcards from the New York Botanical Garden to have a card on hand for any occasion!
15) Read A Poem Or A Chapter A Day
So — you’ve resolved to read more, you’ve visited the NYPL, and now…the book sits on your bedside table. Try reading a poem or a chapter a day — odds are, once you’ve started you’ll be engrossed enough to keep going! This is also a great habit to try out as a replacement for morning/evening doom scrolling.
Committed to being more environmentally sustainable in 2022 — but you love a new outfit? Commit to shopping at more thrift stores! Besides, fashion trends are a boomerang (see: the best of Y2K trends appearing on Gen Z folks born well into the 2000s). Make sure to check out local favorite Fine and Dandy Throwback (445 W49th Street bw 9/10th Ave) for the best in 70s/80s/90s T-shirts and sweatshirts, or try City Opera Thrift Shop (just south of the neighborhood at 26th Street and 10th Ave) for curated duds and antique furniture.
17) Buy Things In Person
While we’re renovating our shopping habits, let’s agree to buy more things in person at local businesses. Jeff Bezos has enough! Buying things in person supports independent businesses, reduces impulse buying, and eliminates the drama of frequently lost packages. Everybody wins! Don’t know where to start? Stop by one of W42ST readers’ favorite stores!
18) Engage With Your Local Leadership
It’s more important than ever to stay informed and involved in city and neighborhood politics. Learn more about it by getting in touch with Hell’s Kitchen’s new city council member, Erik Bottcher, here, or contact the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance for ways to stay involved with community affairs.
19) Learn The Local Foliage
While you’re out on your daily headphone-free walk, why not see if you can spot the different trees around the neighborhood? Hell’s Kitchen alone is home to 54 different species of trees, all of which can be found on this NYC Parks map.
See how many you can identify — there are 1,860 sidewalk trees in the neighborhood alone, making this is a good long-term 2022 activity!
Actively investing in the neighborhood is as important as staying in touch with local politics. Commit to regularly volunteering with one of many local organizations working to improve life for the residents of Hell’s Kitchen — Covenant House, Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries, Clinton Housing Development Company, and Urban Pathways are just a few of the groups available to contact.
21) Transfer $5 Into A Savings Account Every Day
You may have noticed that quite a few of these tips revolve around budgeting — which frankly, is hard to do in our dearly beloved HCOL city. Rather than move home, save nearly $2K a year by transferring $5 a day into a separate savings account. Forego a $5 granola bar, pack of Altoids or latte and find yourself with enough money at the end of the year to take a solid vacation — or to fund your $5 latte habit for the next year.
22) Help Maintain The Neighborhood
In order to keep all of those sidewalk trees flourishing, we all need to pitch in and keep Hell’s Kitchen clean. One great way to do so is by joining the Hell’s Kitchen Litter Legion, run by local resident Catie Savage. The Litter Legion meets regularly to empty overflowing corner wastebaskets and sort out recycling that would otherwise be landfill-bound. In 2021 alone they picked up nearly 2,000 lbs of litter from Hell’s Kitchen in over 60 community clean-up events!
23) When In Doubt, Add Cheese
Struggling to think of something to cook (again)? Why not let yourself off the hook and have a charcuterie plate for dinner! Drop by Vintner Wine Market (Beer Cheese) (677 9th Ave bw W46/47th St) for, as the name suggests — cheese, beer, wine, and other specialty foods.
Other great options include Esposito Meat Market (500 9th Ave – corner of W38th St) for fine deli cut cheeses and meats, Brooklyn Fare (431 W37th St bw 10/11th Ave) for staff curated selections, and Amish Market (731 9th Ave bw 49/50th St) for a cheese department that rivals Zabar’s or Westside Market.
Buy a selection of cheese, crackers, cured meats, vegetables, and dips for a fully balanced meal that beats eating cereal from the box (who, us?!).
Of course, if you want to eat out and have cheese, there’s Hell’s Kitchen’s Best Bar — as voted in the W42ST Best of Awards — Casellula to head to, along with the popular fondue at Kashkaval Garden on 9th Avenue.
24) Learn the History of Pier 76
Hell’s Kitchen is jam-packed with historical context, and its piers are no exception. Take a stroll over to Pier 76, newly accessible to the public at what once was a tow pound (quite an improvement!). Featuring outdoor seating and the propeller from the SS United States (the fastest passenger ship on record to cross the Atlantic Ocean), Pier 76 also features a mini-exhibit of historical plaques detailing other facts from its storied history.
The pier is also home to seasonal events, including a US Open pop-up tennis center erected this summer during the tournament.
25) Find Time For Phone Breaks
In addition to incorporating daily phone-free walks, try to find routine periods throughout the day without the presence of our digital overlords. Set a time on your calendar, send yourself an invite (treat it like a meeting!), and put your phone in a drawer. Then when you inevitably take it out of the drawer and check it, start that clock again and put it back in the drawer. We swear, you’ll feel better. Hell, we’ll even let you watch TV! Just take a break from your phone.
26) Put On A Throwback Playlist
Is there a song from college/high school/middle school that brings you joy? Make a playlist of your favorite throwback jams (or find one tailored to you from Spotify’s many assiduous users) and blast it (within reason, you have neighbors!) while you do your taxes/wash dishes/fold laundry. The time will fly and you may burn a few extra calories by dancing (like no one’s watching)!
27) Make A Friend From A Different Generation
One thing we could all use in 2022 is more empathy and understanding for each other — and one great way to walk the proverbial mile in someone else’s shoes is to befriend someone of a different generation (one way to do so is by getting involved with a local HK group from item #20!). Connecting with someone over shared interests bridges the gap from regarding each other as catchphrases to identifying ourselves by our shared humanity.
28) Wear Something You Love
After over a year inside, we’ve forgotten how to get dressed. And now that we live in the strange limbo betwixt the Before and After Times, some of us are struggling to find our personal style again. Find something in your closet that you absolutely love, and wear it (regardless of whether you’re leaving the house). Enjoy the feeling of dressing like your best self, and return to it when you’re stumped while getting ready.
29) Take A Dance Class
Yes, New York (and Hell’s Kitchen) is home to some of the world’s best dancers. But whether you’re the next Baryshnikov or have two left feet, there is a dance class out there for you. Why not try a new style (or return to an old friend) by taking an open class at nearby Broadway Dance Center (322 W45th St bw 8/9th Ave), offering over 350 drop-in classes a week, or The Alvin Ailey Studios (405 W55th St — corner of 9th Ave), which holds dozens of in-studio and virtual drop-in class options weekly.
30) Sing Show Tunes
Now that you’ve conquered dance, it’s on to song! Regardless of your skill level, it’s scientifically proven that singing is good for you. Belt out some tunes at nearby Don’t Tell Mama (363 W46th St bw 8/9th Ave), a legendary piano bar that features nightly cabarets from bold name performers and frequent open-mic nights. For a low-pressure group singing experience, head downtown to Marie’s Crisis (59 Grove St — corner of 7th Ave S), the long-standing, cheerful show tunes sing-along in a cozy basement bar whose building has long housed speakeasies. Keep a watchful eye (and ear!) and you may spot a Broadway star in the crowd!
31) Check out the New York Public Library Of The Performing Arts
In addition to the many excellent general branches of the NYPL, the specialized Library of the Performing Arts (40 Lincoln Center Plaza) is a must-visit. The wing houses thousands of copies of plays, musicals, sheet music anthologies, and dramaturgical sources, many of which are nearly impossible to locate elsewhere (and yes, you can photocopy the sheet music!).
The library also features well-curated rotating exhibits across dance, theater, and music. Past exhibits have included a retrospective on legendary director Harold Prince’s life, a photo archive of choreographer Jerome Robbins’s work, and a centennial celebration of composer Leonard Bernstein.
32) Make A Weekly Breakfast Date
If you’re finding that another week has gone by and you haven’t left the house, resolve to make a weekly breakfast date with a friend and try one of the neighborhood’s many top-notch joints. Grab an omelet at Westway Diner (614 9th Ave bw 43/44th St) or a pastry at Sullivan Street Bakery (533 W47th St bw 10/11th Ave) or one of the many options listed in our W42ST app!
33) Try Free or Discounted NYC Museum Days
New York is home to some of the greatest museums in the world — a little-known fact to accompany this is that many of the city’s museums are always free of charge (or pay what you wish), while others host weekly admission-free viewing hours. Check out this guide to the city’s lineup of admission-free museum days and the institutions that are always free! One great Hell’s Kitchen adjacent spot is the Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle), currently offering free admission!
34) Visit The Little Island At Pier 55
The city’s newest archipelago is Little Island (Pier 55), a brand-new public park and events space off of Hudson River Park by 13th Street. Open daily from 6am to 9pm, Little Island is a walkway-filled greenscape designed by architect Signe Nielsen that boasts great views of the river. Little Island offers seasonal performances and family programming as well as a bespoke food and beverage program from local vendors. Wander down (when the weather’s good!) for a bite and a concert!
35) Do a Quarterly Closet Reorg
As we continue to explore changes to our personal style, why not make room for new pieces? Go through your closet, take out anything you haven’t worn in years (yes, we’ve extended it to multiple years due to extenuating circumstances!), and plan to donate your previously-loved items to one of the many worthwhile organizations in the neighborhood (for a full guide, check out this list!). Give your clothes a new home and make room for all those new thrift finds!
36) Check Out A Show At The Green Room 42, Birdland, and the West Bank Cafe
Over the course of the year+ inside, many extremely talented performers found themselves with unexpected time to develop solo cabarets. See some of them come to life at The Green Room 42, located upstairs in the Yotel hotel (570 10th Ave bw 41/42nd St). An intimate venue with cabaret table seating and a full food and drink menu, Green Room 42 is the perfect place to catch newcomers and industry veterans alike performing their latest and greatest material.
Over at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe (407 W42nd St — west of 9th Ave), longtime weekly cabaret Broadway Sessions returns, highlighting the stars of current and former mainline shows in a smorgasbord of performances, trivia, and open mic singing. Take a few shots, try your luck at trivia, and let the magic of Broadway (and some liquid courage) lead you to the stage!
If you’d rather stay firmly seated in the audience, check out Jim Caruso’s Cast Party on Monday evenings at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W44th St bw 8/9th Ave). Broadway stars drop in unexpectedly for impromptu sets at the lively variety show, hosted by veteran performer Caruso for almost 30 years.
37) Catch A Matinee
Have a free afternoon on Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday? Head to a Broadway box office (most box offices open at 10am, call or check websites for exact times) and snag same-day tickets to a show. Matinees (Wednesday matinees in particular!) generally sell out less frequently than evening shows so there are often great seats available at reasonable prices.
38) Book A Staycation
Need a change of scenery but reluctant to brave LaGuardia? Book a staycation in a different part of town — a few excellent options with fantastic food and amenities include the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (60 Furman St, Brooklyn), the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave — corner of N11th St, Brooklyn), the William Vale Hotel (111 N12th St bw Wythe Ave and Berry St, Brooklyn), and The Beekman (123 Nassau St — corner of Beekman St). Looking for something slightly closer to home? Try a stay at The Standard High Line (848 Washington St bw W12/13th St) or the band new Equinox Hotel (33 Hudson Yards). Best of all, until February 13 you can snag a sweet deal thanks to the first-ever NYC Hotel Week. Over 110 hotels across New York City’s five boroughs are participating, with a tasty 22 percent discount off standard room rates at many of the city’s finest establishments.
39) Try Rock Climbing
Have you resolved to conquer your fear of heights? Over by Waterline Square is Central Rock Gym (21 West End Ave), a full-service rock climbing facility featuring instructional lessons, climbing hours, and competitions. While you can certainly purchase a membership, day passes are also available for $33 if you’re looking to test the waters a bit.
40) Return to Sleep No More
One of New York’s most riveting (and haunting) experiential shows, Sleep No More returns to the McKittrick Hotel (530 W27th St bw 10/11th Ave) this February after its long COVID slumber. Enjoy this spooky, interactive, multi-level, dance-heavy version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and try not to get too caught up in the mayhem. Grab a drink afterward at the hotel’s Manderley Bar to shake off the toil and trouble.
41) Visit the New Irish Arts Center
While there have been many neighborhood COVID closings, one exciting opening was the recent dedication of the Irish Arts Center (726 11th Ave bw 51/52nd St), a new state-of-the-art facility for the Hell’s Kitchen-based arts organization. Check out a film screening, play, poetry reading, concert, or dance performance in the $54 million dollar space co-chaired by Irish notables Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne — we can always hope for a celebrity sighting!
42) Meditate For 2 Minutes A Day
One thing we could all use after a tumultuous few years is a bit of peace. And while meditating for hours at a time may not be feasible, why not try to dedicate 2 minutes to clear your mind? Try the Headspace, Calm, or (free) Insight Timer app for guided, timed, or themed mediation programming. Turn off the news (momentarily!) and breathe in a little moment of zen each day. After all, meditating for 2 minutes a day is the equivalent of over 12 hours of peace for your beleaguered brain. Progress!
Good luck, fellow resolvers! May this list bring you a few moments of calm and joy in this strange new year.