5 Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

Laughing with Friends

Looking forward to the new year with energy and optimism? Then, by all means, take that list of traditional New Year’s resolution ideas and toss it immediately! Creating a list of unrealistic goals for the coming year is like shooting your spirit in the foot. Instead of enhancing your wellbeing, you become your own judge and jury. Inevitably when you fail to follow through on promises to change who you are, the verdict is: Guilty - of disappointing yourself.

Instead of focusing on what you perceive as negative spaces that need filling, take stock of all the positive pieces of your life. Contemplate the types of changes that are compatible with who you really are.

Here are 5 suggestions to consider, as you ponder ways in which you can enrich yourself and your life in the coming year.

Recharge Social Connections

The older we get, the more critical it is to our health and wellbeing to spend time with people who lift us up. Make a list of the friends and family members who bring out the best in you, the people who make you smile even as you think of them. Make it a point to reach out to them regularly and make dates to get together for dinner, coffee, cocktails or an exercise walk. Why not plan a weekend excursion? Resolve to be present in existing relationships and commit to pursuing opportunities for new ones as they arise.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Sometimes it takes a deeper understanding of the past to create a better future. Take a realistic look at this past year; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sit quietly and write your thoughts in a journal. You may be surprised at what appears on the page. Or if you don’t want to put pen to paper, meditate on your year’s journey to see where you were, where you are, and how you got here. Be kind to yourself, not judgmental.

An Attitude of Gratitude

While others are burdening themselves with promises they can’t possibly keep, why not resolve to regularly express gratitude for the many gifts in your life. Actively showing gratitude creates positive energy that impacts self-esteem and stress levels. Make a list of all that you are grateful for, including the people who add beauty to your world, and don’t forget to let them know how you feel. Gratitude is like a boomerang. Put it out there and it will always come back to you.

Make Changes in Baby Steps

Exercising and eating healthy are not really New Year’s resolution ideas. They are more pervasive lifestyle goals. Unfortunately, resolutions that seek to dramatically alter existing food and activity habits will most likely fizzle out quickly. So, don’t resolve to cut your favorite food out of your diet, or expect yourself to jump up off the couch and run a mile. Instead, commit to baby steps like adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and taking a walk with friends around the neighborhood. Those little victories can eventually lead to significant permanent change.

You Deserve a Break

Every so often it’s nice to jump off the merry-go-round of life and take some time off just to focus on someone or something you love. This could mean taking a day in the country with a family member, relaxing by a pool with a great book, grabbing an afternoon movie with a friend, or signing up for a yoga or meditation retreat.  Make it a point to indulge yourself occasionally to renew your spirit. Paying attention to your own needs makes you better able to be a supportive friend, parent or colleague.

Successful New Year’s resolution ideas are not about becoming a different person. They are about supporting your efforts to be your best self. So, don’t bemoan the stranger you think you should be. Instead love who you are and be proud of achieving your personal goals. Happy New Year!

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