A Different Take on New Year’s Resolutions

I’ll be back to posting more regularly after the holidays, but wanted to share a different – and, I think, more positive – approach to the yearly resolution bit.

The truth is, I don’t really do resolutions.

As an adherent of the Law of Attraction, they seem a recipe for failure. What message are you sending the Universe ?

What you think you’re saying: “I am overweight and haven’t lost the weight I want. I must lose weight and this year will be different; I will make myself lose weight, I swear.”

What the Universe hears: “I didn’t lose weight before and therefore I won’t lose weight this year.”

Instead I’ve replaced resolutions with two annual habits that help me enter the year with an air of acceptance and gratitude, and that truly set me up for success.

Habit One: The List
On the last day of the year (or as soon as you can), take a few minutes to sit quietly and make a list of 25 things you accomplished this year. They can be big or small. (Some years, getting through a rough year in one piece is an accomplishment). The only rule is that these have to be things you did, not that were done for you, and – while you can go higher if you like – you must get to 25.

I’ve never not reached 25, and even in rough years, my list is always more impressive than I thought it would be. It’s a good, neutral look at all you really accomplish during a year, and if that doesn’t put you in a grateful spirit for the upcoming year, nothing will.

Habit Two: January Challenge
While I’m absorbing the lessons of The List and thinking about what I want to apply from it to my year, I do a January Challenge.

This can be anything. Two years ago, I went vegan for January. Last year and this, I’ll be doing a “No Spend January”, using up everything I have already and cutting out unnecessary spending.

Unlike normal “resolutions”, these monthly challenges work because they’re “SMART”:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Reachable
  • Time Bound

Say “I resolve to lose weight in 2016” and see how far you get. But say “I won’t eat meat in January” and you’ve got a much better shot.

A “cheat” here and there doesn’t have the resolution-ending impact it might otherwise because your goal has boundaries; if you’re doing your challenge 90%, you can still have a very successful month.

Besides, you can do anything for a month.

End of January
At this point, I reevaluate my list and see what I want to start, stop, or continue. Then I launch into the New Year with an air of gratitude for the year past, and one major accomplishment already under my belt. Strangely, I find it much easier to keep improving.

This year, I invite you to try something a little more gentle than “I RESOLVE TO BE BETTER” and see where it leads you…