This is the time of year. We start hearing about them. Our friends are making them. We may be making them ourselves. What am I talking about?
New Year’s Resolutions.
Am I hearing a collective groan? If so, I’m right there with you!
One reason I’m not a fan of the stereotypical resolution at the beginning of each year is that we often set ourselves up for failure due to:
- Unrealistic goals
- Unachievable timeframe
- Lack of a support system
Research shows that only nine percent of us who make resolutions feel successful in reaching our goals. When we don’t achieve what we resolved to, we often cannot see any accomplishment we may have made….just the fact that we fell short. How does this really help? It doesn’t.
In looking for a better approach to the New Year’s Resolution, I found that many creative, compassionate, intelligent people have come up with some amazing alternatives. There are better ways to improve our lives without the self-guilt that comes with falling short of the goal. I’m very excited to share these alternatives with you – and to hear back from you about the ones you like the best.
Set a specific daily objective for a 30-day timeframe. If you are so inspired, come up with 12 different ones (one for each month of the year). The first one can be basic – like decluttering. What action would you be taking each day in January to declutter? It could be throwing away, donating or selling five items per day. At the end of the month, celebrate your accomplishment and decide if you want to take on a new challenge (or skip a month and pick back up in March).
Find Your People
Instead of committing to a new activity, commit to the people you want to spend time within your life. Make a list of who brings out the best in you. Who adds value to your day. Who makes you laugh and improves your mood? Get the list down to about five-eight people and plan how to spend more time with them. It could be monthly coffees, weekly walks in the park, weekend trips or even just regular hangouts at your place. Be intentional – and spend quality time with “your people”.
Decide What to Track Rather Than Pick a Goal
This one is very interesting to me! Instead of a goal, you’ll decide something to track in your life. It could be how you spend your money, what you eat (food log), how much you use social media…anything. The idea is to decide on your metric and what you’ll measure rather than a measurement goal. A goal may evolve out of it, but in the beginning, you focus on tracking. And perhaps the act of tracking will result in the implementation of a goal (like weight loss).
Focus on Gratitude
Practicing gratitude regularly can have an amazing impact on your life. Start by making a list of things you are grateful for, then think about why. Reflect on this list as well as what doesn’t make it on the list (that can be equally insightful). Then make a list of people you are grateful for. Write each person a note sharing why you appreciate having them in your life (without expectation of a response). Go through this exercise as often as you like throughout the year and see how good it makes you feel!
Pick a Word of the Year
Find a word to serve as the inspiration for the new year. The idea is that this single word will give you clarity and help you focus in a particular direction. To get to the word, make a list of all kinds of things you’d like to accomplish throughout the year. You should see a theme come to light that can be encapsulated in a single word: joy, relaxation, friendship, discipline, wellness, etc. Whatever it is, that word can be your guide for the new year. Make a poster for your room, write it on your bathroom mirror, buy a keychain with the word on it – then commit the year to that word!
Do an Experiment Each Week
Decide to make the new year a year of curiosity rather than difficult change. Establish weekly experiments to encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, try a new activity or discover a new passion. One week you can talk to five strangers to see what happens (new friends, new perspectives). Another week you can decide to do your exercise before work instead of after by going for a brisk walk in the morning. Another you can taste a new food each day to try to expand your diet (you may actually love Brussel sprouts and not know it!). This approach lets you try out a variety of things to decide which ones you want to keep going with. You never know what you may discover about yourself… and what you want to become a permanent habit.
In conclusion, don’t sweat the New Year’s Resolution, and please don’t think you have to do it like everyone else does! There is no one right way to make a change in the new year. Try one of these options – and be sure to let me know which ones you like!
Resources for this article (and more good ideas not mentioned):