Despite many seeming to be more and more disillusioned with them these days, New Year’s resolutions have helped many people start on the path to making significant positive changes in their lives. People who question the efficacy of New Year’s resolutions often point me to studies such as a fairly recent one that indicated that just 20% of “resolvers” still adhere to their goals two years later. After how many years?! After two years, only one in five people still followed their resolution? I see that as a half-full glass. Okay, it’s only half full, but that’s still a decent amount of water to drink. In a more recent study with a larger sample size, 55% of those who made resolutions kept them after a year. It’s not all bad.
So yes, some people do achieve their New Year’s resolutions. There are other ways to help yourself become healthier and happier in the New Year if you are opposed to traditional New Year’s resolutions for whatever reason. If you are looking for something slightly different to get you interested at this time of year, then simply choose one or more of the unconventional routes.
I’ve listed below, or draw inspiration from them to create your own change. If you are clueless about what things to do instead of new year resolutions, read on….
1. Make a To Don’t List
Sally Helgeson and Marshall Goldsmith suggested the idea of making a “To Don’t List” instead of making a traditional “To Do List” this year. Here, the goal is to establish better boundaries by making a list of things you won’t do going forward. You can concentrate on what is truly important to you once you have broken the habit of taking on too many “to-dos.”
Engage your rebellious side and make a commitment not to waste your time on people, endeavours, or projects that aren’t truly important to you. Here’s a couple of simple examples of what you can consider doing:
- Don’t just accept a request right away. Say it like it is done: “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”
- No more than one appointment or event should be scheduled each day.
- If you are not enjoying a book or article, don’t feel obligated to finish it.
So what’s something you want to stop doing this new year?
2. Follow a 30 Day Monthly Challenge
For each month of the year, create a list of twelve 30-day challenges and finish one of them. A 30-day challenge is what? Setting a modest goal that can be accomplished in 30 days, along with the specific action you’ll be taking each day to achieve the goal, constitutes a 30-day challenge.
For instance, you could design a 30-day decluttering challenge for January. What decluttering action will you be taking each and every day in January? The following are some options: Choose five items every day in January to give away, sell, donate, or get rid of.
You’ll have eliminated 155 items by the end of January if you do it this way. Good Job!. Create additional 30-day challenges for February, March, and so forth. You’ll have accomplished 12 modest goals by the end of the year.
3. List the Things You Want to Keep a Track of
Make a list of the things you plan to measure or track this year. Here are a few examples:
- I’ll keep track of my time.
- I’ll keep a food journal.
- I’ll keep a record of my financial activities.
- I will monitor my weight.
At this point, you don’t need to decide how you’ll use the information you’ll be gathering. As an alternative, you’ll likely generate ideas on the fly.
Maintaining a time log, for instance, might make you aware of how much time you’re wasting on social media. This might prompt you to establish a cap like spending no more than fifteen minutes per day on social media. Simply begin measuring and see what results.
4. Revamp an Area of your Life
Perhaps there’s a part of your life that’s completely gone off the rails, and you wish you could simply press Ctrl+Alt+Del and start over. You might have put on weight, accrued debt, or lost interest in your job. If this describes you, make the most of the new year to start over.
For instance, reboot by starting a healthy eating plan if you’re unhappy with the way you’ve been eating. These diets are focused and short-term, and they can help you kick-start a weight loss programme or change your eating habits. Maybe you need a digital detox to cleanse you of the effects of social media? Here’s an article all about that: Why You Need a Digital Detox and How to Have One.
5. Practice Goal-Breaking Approach
Some individuals enjoy “going big or going home.” Unfortunately, many of those people will remain at home when it comes to habit change. Of course, it’s okay if “going big” works for you. But for some, this mindset can be counterproductive; those who try to take on too much too soon can become discouraged and give up. Launching into intense workouts without first building up your endurance can be problematic when it comes to an exercise goal.
Instead, think about breaking your big goal down into smaller, more manageable “mini-goals,” as recommended in the book Changepower. For instance, if improving your health is your goal, start off in January by walking for ten minutes, three to five days per week. Continue doing that or increase the times and distances in February. Then in March, a little bit more. You see what I mean.
6. Pick Out One-Word for the New Year
Choose one word to serve as your compass for the year. Why use only one word? Because a single word helps you to focus and be clear. You would notice certain patterns and themes if you sat down to write down everything you wanted for the upcoming year, then read through your list. Once you’ve identified these trends and themes, reduce everything to a single word that best describes your goals for the coming year.
Here are a few examples:
7. Write a Personal Mission Statement
According to New York Times best-selling author, Andy Andrews “Mission statements help businesses stay aligned with the values they find most important and ensure they’re staying focused on the way they want to impact the world.” These mission statements can aid in luring clients who hold similar values, for example.
So why do so few people take the time to create their own personal mission statement if mission statements are so important that businesses frequently spend hundreds of hours crafting and fine-tuning them?
Your personal mission statement should ideally include specific boundaries to help you with difficult decisions. When you establish boundaries for what you will and will not put up with in your life, you aren’t even given a choice, according to Andres. That’s how easy it is.
He continues, “Once you declare your mission statement, you start living it. You don’t need to think about much outside of it. Additionally, you are free to make any length of statement.” One last word of advice. A compelling personal mission statement isn’t something you can conjure up instantly, according to Andrews.
When creating your personal mission statement, you should consider the following questions and provide answers.
- What is crucial?
- I want to go where?
- What does “the best” mean to me personally?
- How should I behave?
- What sort of legacy do I hope to leave?
8. Practice Gratitude
An excellent way to get the new year off to a positive start is to incorporate more gratitude into your daily routine. To feel less depressed and anxious, to feel more energised, and to sleep better, try practicing gratitude.
Keeping a gratitude journal is the simplest way to get started. You don’t have to do this every day, of course. But make sure to record it in your journal whenever you’re thankful for something particular. Another suggestion is to ask members of your family or even your team to express their gratitude during meals.
Read this article on the Science of Gratitude for more on this.
9. Make Your Very Own SMART Goals
According to Team Tony, the main reason why New Year’s resolutions fail is that they are not specific enough. “While having big dreams is always a good thing, you also need to turn those dreams into SMART goals.” Achievable goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) allow you to monitor your development and are essential to success.
If you want to be healthier in the new year, what will you track? Is it making a specific number of meals at home rather than ordering takeout from your preferred pizza place? Do you want to go for daily three-mile walks? As you achieve your objectives, track your progress and establish a reasonable timetable.
10. Prepare a List of Things to Look Forward
People are happier looking forward to a holiday than remembering one, claims one study. How come this is the case? According to Martha Roberts in Psychologies, we typically experience more powerful emotions in response to future events than past ones. As a result, we anticipate that upcoming events will elicit stronger emotional reactions from us than those that have already happened. Furthermore, we tend to talk more about what we are planning than what we have already accomplished.
“You’re imagining a new potential future — one with good times and challenges to overcome instead of a bleak, powerless tomorrow,” writes psychologist Ryan Howes. You can combat pessimism by imagining something exciting. Additionally, this inspires you to press on even when you may want to give up.
According to therapist LeNaya Smith Crawford, “anticipation implies a future reward, and rewards are powerful motivators.” This is due to the fact that when you know you will be rewarded, you are motivated to complete tasks you might not otherwise want to. Smith Crawford adds that discipline is also created by anticipation. The ability to delay gratification is aided. This teaches us that if we have patience, we will eventually have a greater experience or receive a reward.
11. Create an Anticipation List
Start by making a list of the year’s brightest moments, whether they were significant events like a job promotion or more modest ones like an enjoyable night out dancing with your best friends. Make a list of everything awesome you’re looking forward to in the upcoming year, including both books and yet-to-be-published items. Whether you want to adopt a dog or have the best staycation ever, making a long list of happy things to happen over the next 24 months is a wonderful way to start the new year.
12. Add Good Healthy Pleasure to Your Life
Melissa Kirsch, a writer for the New York Times, emphasises that resolutions don’t have to be challenging or painful. For many, the resolution of “take a nap every day” may be perfectly acceptable. Here are some additional goals that emphasise healthy pleasures:
Get a massage: your mobility as you age may benefit from having a healthy, supple body.
Publish more books: you’ll enjoy yourself more and live longer as well.
Every month, go to watch a film or see an exhibition: you’ll not only enjoy it more, but you’ll live longer.
13. Make a New Friend Every Month
Did you know that friends are good for your health and the more you have, the better it is? So why not start making new friends as a New Year’s resolution? Make a conscious effort to attend more social events, strike up conversations with random bystanders, and ask friends of friends for introductions if you want to widen your social circle. Aim to make one new friend per month. In order to expand your horizons, explore different facets of your personality, and discover new ways to make the most of life, it can be especially helpful to make friends with people who have different personalities and interests from you.
Remember that you can make resolutions at any time, not just at the beginning of the year. Some people may decide to change their behavior on their birthday, in support of a cause, or simply whenever it feels appropriate. The “fresh start effect,” as habit expert Katy Milkman calls it, will still apply to you. The best way to change in the New Year is the way that works for you. There are many different ways to do this.
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