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What Is a Better Alternative to a New Year’s Resolution?

As we turn the first page on a new calendar, many of us set New Year’s resolutions. I was curious about how many people actually make New Year’s resolutions, and if they manage to stick to them, so I asked this on several forums. It was interesting to read the answers. I coupled them with my own experiences and research to see if it’s worth making a New Year’s resolution or if anything else would work better. But let’s first look at what a New Year’s resolution actually is, and does it work?

What is a New Year resolution?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a New Year’s resolution as a promise. A promise that we make at the start of a New Year to change things and to do them differently or better in the coming year. If only it would be so easy. Analysing the answers to my question showed that people often don’t set New Year’s resolutions because they know that they won’t be able to keep them.

Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, as this was one of the most frequent answers to my question. It all sounds lovely, but how should you approach achieving your goal?

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Read also ‘Year of Healing: 10 Positive Recovery Quotes

What is behind the New Year’s resolution failure?

Lose weight, eat healthier, drink more water, read more books, earn more money…we chase the outcome. Big mistake! If you promised yourself that you will lose weight, you need to focus on new habits, rituals, or lifestyles choices. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Otherwise, this is going to be just another failed resolution. Therefore, focus on the behaviour rather than the final result.

About 80% of the respondents who responded to my question about making New Year’s resolutions advised that they don’t make them, and the most common reason was that they do things when they want to instead of waiting for the New Year to start. And that’s understandable. Life is too short, so live it to the fullest today, and if you want to make changes start now.

However, you can only make changes if you are ready to do so. Respondents to my question were right, you don’t need to wait till the New Year starts. What you need is to change your mind, your thinking. Let’s say you are not happy in your relationship or your work. You promised yourself so many times that you would change things, but nothing has changed yet. Because indeed, nothing changes unless something changes. 

Are you ready for a change?

As someone who is often in contact with people who have been mistreated since childhood, I can see how growing up in an unhealthy environment leaves its mark. I can see how and why they are drawn to what they are familiar with and think that’s normal. And so they are more inclined to pick the wrong partner or the wrong job. It is replicating the same dysfunctional environment they grew up in. But remember, you cannot heal in the same environment where you got hurt. If you are unhappy in your relationship or your work you can only change things if you change your thinking.

The other reason I found in the answers when asking about New Year’s resolution was that people don’t believe it works. This isn’t so surprising as studies show that more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. And yes, you can find many articles telling you why your New Year’s resolution wasn’t working, how to adapt it differently so that you can stick with it. However, as mentioned, New Year’s resolution is unlikely to work if we don’t work hard on the process and are willing to change.

It can however be a long process, and we need to commit to the change. Change doesn’t come easily and only happens if we are ready for it. So are we ready to let go of the old and familiar and create new habits? This is not going to be easy. Luckily, there is something that can help you to make it easier. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that will add to the stress of everyday life and make you more overwhelmed and depressed, why not set goals that will motivate and excite you?

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How to succeed?

Tips on how to set up realistic goals and avoid the disappointment of not achieving your New Year’s resolution:

1. Set realistic, manageable and specific goals – so instead of making a vague resolution of losing weight, set yourself a precise and measurable goal that you are likely to be able to keep. For example, walking for 30 minutes every day or exercising for 20 minutes 3 times a week.

2. Have a plan – one of the reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail is that they are not thought through. They are too big. We often dream big and try to change everything at once. Our habits are the result of many small choices made over time. So start with something small and create a detailed plan that helps you achieve your goal. Do you want to lose weight? Then what about becoming a gym member and choosing classes to go to each day or maybe attending a Bootcamp on a regular basis.

3. Celebrate your success – by setting yourself a goal and keeping it will help change your mindset and help you believe in yourself. It will help manifest a can-do attitude instead of beating yourself up for your failures. Setting small rewards, such as having a relaxing day or going to a spa, will help you stay motivated.  

4. Positive environment – this can be as simple as having support and avoiding temptation. Surround yourself with people who support you and share your goals. But also recognise and avoid your temptations. It is hard to eat healthy if you arrange to meet friends at a fancy bakery.

5. Review your progress – reflect on and appraise your progress. How did it go, what could you focus on more, what requires more work? How could you expand and build on it? And don’t be afraid to change your goal if needed. Also, keep in mind that things sometimes may fail or slip up for reasons outside of our control. In such circumstances accept this and learn from it instead of beating yourself up. 

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Read also ‘Goodbye and Thank you 2020!

Find an approach that works for you and stick to it

Personally, I don’t set New Year’s resolutions as I don’t think this would work for me. However, I do have plans and goals that I would like to achieve this year. I reviewed last year to consider what I achieved and how could I build on it this year. Looking back at what I accomplished last year helped me to establish the direction I would like to move in going forward. Following the tips above, I created a concrete plan with steps and goals that I would like to achieve. This is an approach that works for me.

You can with the video with the tips also on IG or Tiktok.

Know your ‘Why’

Whatever your goals and dreams are, I believe that understanding the ‘Why’ will help you achieve them. So, clarify your ‘Why’. Look at why your ambitions are meaningful to you, why you want to achieve them? What motivates you, what makes you happy? Once you master this, it will help you set and achieve goals that matter to you. After all, happiness comes from within, and only you hold the key to it.  

I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Do you make New Year’s resolution and manage to keep it? What are your New Year’s resolutions for this year?

Thank you and till the next blog post,

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53 thoughts on “What Is a Better Alternative to a New Year’s Resolution?”

  1. This is a great post! I don’t set resolutions, I opt in for goals because they’re more specific and motivate me more.

  2. Focus on the process, the actions is exactly how I manage the goals and dreams I have in life and in my business. Enjoy the journey, life is awesome every day!

  3. I switched to the idea of goals too – it just feels so much better than using the word resolutions, as well as making sure things are manageable!

  4. Great article. I recently wrote something similar on my blog. It’s all about mindset, making choices today that establish the habits needed to attain your goals, and realizing that the goals and achievement of the goals is not what matters most – rather, it is the journey and the person you become along the way.

  5. This year I didn’t set any goals or resolutions because I realized that last year I didn’t pay attention to the process. This year I am doing a hybrid of loving the process and assessing/celebrating my achievements later.

  6. This is a great post, I love to see the movement toward making goals not resolutions. WE have have always made yearly goals that we want to achieve for the next 12 months, where resolutions seem very daunting and unobtainable.

  7. This is a great approach to New Year! I have been doing resolutions list too, and sometimes frustrating when I fail. I’ll try to switch to realistic goals and hopefully it will work for me well.

  8. Love this because I stopped making resolutions years ago. One day it just occurred to me that I never got past February. Instead, I now set intentions. It’s been working wonderfully!

  9. The end of one year is a great time to evaluate all the goals you set at the beginning of that year. I definitely agree with all the tips you made. Also rather than making resolutions just because it’s a new year, it’s important to be practical and realistic in setting the goals you desire to achieve. It’s also important to evaluate throughout the year. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. ☺️

    Pastor Natalie

  10. Thank you for sharing this. You are right about a lot of new year’s resolutions failing. I think it is either because people make too many, they are too hard, or they are too vague.

    I really love your idea about knowing your why. In our daily life, as with new year’s resolutions, this is so important. Knowing our why helps us focus in a direction, as well as keep going when things get difficult.

  11. We had some guests over the other night for dinner, and we discussed how many of us would set a resolution this coming year. And I was amazed that most people said they had no plans to set a resolution in the new year. I personally like to set a goal for the new year. Thanks for all the tips!

  12. Yes! I’m not a big resolution maker, but setting goals is so important. I feel like I need to reevaluate every day and adjust to what works. I think remembering my “why” is what keeps me going, but I need to create new habits in order to be successful. This is a helpful post.

  13. I think goals are a good idea. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I think having a goal and working to make it happen better than you did the year before is an accomplishment.

    The plan is to work it and be determined. That is what I am striving for each and every day.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. I absolutely agree that setting realistic goals is the best starting point for achieving things in the new year. In my opinion, resolutions fail because in most instances, they are set because everyone is doing it and there’s not much substance or planning behind them.

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