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  • A Few Alternatives to New Years Resolutions

    the word "resolution" in cut out letters

    Every year about this time The Great Resolution Debate happens across the country in homes, offices, and social media. Some people are all for making yearly resolutions even if they’re rarely kept, while others don’t see the point. And this causes some very heated “discussions.” I’m all for trying to create new or better habits and I’m all for fresh starts and trying to improve, but I haven’t made New Years resolutions for several years. I’ve tried several other things to varying degrees of success and I’ve also heard about some practices that I haven’t tried yet, but sound intriguing. I’m going to list them all for you.

    Instead of Resolutions Try One of These

    • Focus Word – Choose 1 word that you want to predominate in 2018. I accidentally came up with this idea (then saw it online while doing a little research for this article) when I half-jokingly said that in response to 2017 being “the year of the house” (so named partway through the year for all things in our home that needed to be repaired or replaced) that “I hereby declare 2018 to be the year of the savings account.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I was onto something. My focus word for 2018 is Saving (vs savings account) – that will give me greater leeway to save money in many ways such as not making a purchase, buying a cheaper item or smaller size, actually putting money in my savings account, putting extra money in my retirement account, etc.
    • 3 words – Pick any three words that will guide you in the choices you intend to make in 2018. Action-based words, words with depth/multiple meanings or nuances, and words that are both a noun AND a verb make the best choices. It’s also best to choose three words that will work together. Here’s a great blog post by Chris Brogan explaining it, complete with 10 years of examples of the 3 words he chose. I’m considering doing this for the first time. If I do, my words will be Save (money, energy, etc.), Creativity (be creative in choosing ways to save and still have fun, engage with my creative side more, etc), and something else. If I can decide on a third word, I’ll do this.
    • Use prompts – These are small words or phrases that remind you what you want from the new year. A few examples: Do more _____. Do less ____. Embrace _____. Read ____. Travel to ____. Achieve ____. Gain ____. Eliminate _____. Delegate ____. Create ____. Improve ____. Learn _____. Organize _____. Pick whichever prompts you want. Pick as few or as many prompts as you’d like. Make some up that aren’t on my list. There are lists online including this blog post of 36 prompts which aren’t quite as open-ended as my examples but are very useful if you hate open-ended prompts. I’ve done prompts for the past 2 years and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to success in the resolution/non-resolution arena.
    • Yearly bucket list – List the things you really want to do or see; places you want to visit; and foods you want to try in the coming year. Then do what you can to make them happen.
    • Challenge yourself – You can do a big year-long challenge or 12 smaller month-long challenges. With a year-long challenge you can attempt something big like learning another language or only walking (never driving) to any destination that’s within a mile of your house. But I also like the idea of 12 smaller ones so you can set seasonal challenges that involve outdoor activities in nice weather months and indoor activities during the months when the air hurts your face. If you’re one of those crazy people who actually like the cold and snow I suppose you can set challenges for how many places you’ll ski or how many days or hours you’ll spend snowmobiling or ice-fishing, just don’t ask me to join you.
    • Make a list of things you are looking forward to – These can be big or small – a friend’s wedding; your big vacation; books, movies, or albums that are going to be published or released in 2018; a new store or restaurant that’s scheduled to open; a concert or stage play that’s coming to a stage near you; or a new game or piece of tech that’s slated to be released.
    • Simplify something – Choose one area of your life that is out of control. Maybe your attic looks like it should be on an episode of Hoarders, maybe there’s a relationship that’s seen better days, or maybe you have too many things on your calendar. Brainstorm all the ways you can simplify or declutter that area of life. The decisions you’ll have to make won’t always be easy, but they will be worth it.
    • Set an intention rather than a result – Instead of losing a certain number of pounds you could set an intention to find healthy food that you really enjoy or find a sport or activity that you don’t hate… you know, so it doesn’t seem like “exercise.” Maybe you just set the intention to be more active or be more mindful of what and how much you eat.
    • Focus on what you do well – How about giving yourself a pat on the back and making a list of all the things you’re good at instead of focusing on what you need to change. That simple change in mindset might be all it takes to start an organic process of improvement that you aren’t consciously working on. OR it might be all you need. Period.
    • Make it about someone else – Commit to helping someone else. This can be a specific person like a family member or friend who’s going through a hard time, helping an underserved population, or it can be volunteering at a charity whose mission you’re passionate about.
    • Resolve to be imperfect – Recognize your imperfections and embrace them with humor. Maybe you resolve to put fewer than 6 chapsticks through the washer and dryer next year, promise to set off the smoke detector no more than once a month while cooking, or vow to only drop your phone in the toilet once this year. Whatever your most blatant or embarrassing imperfection is, embrace it and make a humorous resolution about it.

    This year I’m going to do 1 focus word – Saving. If I can think of a third word to go with Save and Creativity I might do 3 words and see how that goes.

    What about you? Will you be making a resolution this New Year? If you’re so inclined, tell me about it in the comments.