Five Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

Ok, I get it.  Not everyone is a “resolutions person” to begin with, and all of the science surrounding the concept of resolutions suggests that a third of people give them up within 30 days; almost all (four out of five) give up by 60 days.


That being said, there are stories of people who set new year’s resolutions and actually stick to them.  The trick might just be not calling them resolutions at all.

In my line of work, I am constantly goal-setting (and reassessing goals) with clients.  Many clients come to me with sweeping generalizations (I want to lose weight!) which I try and funnel down to specific action items (I want to lose one percent body fat in the next month!).  Whether or not they consider their statements “resolutions,” the fact is that people who define and structure their actionable steps toward reaching a goal are more successful than those who do the minimum possible and just hope for the best.

There are; however, lots of alternatives to the age-old “resolutions” practice.  Here are my top five (and you can check out even more here!):

Mission Statements.  These have been getting a lot of press lately and with good reason – the most successful businesses have them, so why shouldn’t you?  Writing your personal mission is not just a great exercise in values-based living, it’s a way to realize what matters the most to you about a certain goal or practice, and focus on how to make the life you’re living match those values most closely.

Smart Lists.  Even a full sentence can be intimidating for some folks, so why not write a bullet point instead?  “Smart things to do” lists can be this simple – a line of bulleted reminders about how to be your best self and live your healthiest life.  Rather than constraining to you what you can’t do, smart lists encourage you to do the best you can.

Mantras.  Borrowing a bit from yoga and new-age philosophy, sometimes a life change can come from something as simple as a repeated word or set of words.  Whether it’s reminding yourself to “just breathe” in times of stress, or working each day on finding something to “let go,” mantras can be comforting and encouraging, without a hint of judgment or failure toward the person using it.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals.  These are my favorite types of goals – the ones that actually have a chance of being accomplished.  The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable/achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound, and it means business.  This is how we were taught to set goals at my first job and I still use this model when trying to focus a client toward something really meaningful and lasting.

Letter to Yourself.  This one I love.  Simply sit down and write a letter to yourself to be opened on January 1, 2016.  Write as you would to a friend, wishing the best for him/her, offering advice, and congratulating her/him on a job well done this past year.  Be specific – thank yourself for finally taking those yoga classes, for example – and be reckless with praise.  When you open it up next year it will be a wonderful reminder of your hard work.

What do you do for new year’s resolutions – if anything?  What strategy works for you?

3 thoughts on “Five Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

  1. I don’t really do resolutions, but I do see January as a rejuvenating sort of month. New fiscal year, new birthdays for everyone, 3 months to prepare for spring (Well maybe more like 4 or 5 months here in Minnesota).



  2. Pingback: Ask Amanda: Hatching Healthy Habits | thisfitblonde

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