This post originally ran in January, 2022.
I quit making resolutions.
Don’t get me wrong … I want to grow, to improve myself, and to set and accomplish goals. I want to be the best mom, wife, sister, and friend I can be.
Resolutions have just never been successful for me (or for most people, apparently). The data shows that a tiny fraction of people who make resolutions actually stick to them. Super encouraging, right?
I used to make resolutions for the new year, but about six years ago, I quit. I had a baby and was taking a year off from teaching to be home with him. Life felt overwhelming, and adding another obligation to my plate sounded awful. So, I gave myself permission to let go of the pressure of making and sticking to a resolution. I found some other options to focus on improvement for the year that felt a whole lot more meaningful, flexible, and attainable for me.
Here are four alternatives to the dreaded New Year’s resolution:
1. CHOOSE A WORD
This almost seems too easy, but picking a single word to focus on for the year can be extremely powerful. Instead of feeling like a failure when you’ve messed up your resolution, you keep that word and what it means to you at the forefront of your mind in everything you do. There’s no failure to be had, no falling off the train and feeling bad about yourself. This is perfect if you are noticing some overarching themes in your life that you want to shift. The first year I picked a word, it was CONSISTENCY. I wanted consistency in lots of aspects of my life, and I found so much freedom and direction in approaching the year this way.
2. MAKE A BUCKET LIST
Those things you keep saying you’re going to do? Add them to the list! Those things that bring you joy? Add them to the list. Want to challenge yourself to try something new or get out of your comfort zone? Yep – put it on the list. This keeps your year ahead exciting and new, with things you want to do, accomplish, or experience. You can even bring the kids into it and make a list together. If it feels overwhelming or like the list is getting too long, break it up and make one for each new season!
3. FOCUS ON MINDSET
If you have goals for yourself and things you want to stay committed to, I have found that working on mindset is a crucial factor in reaching them. The saying “mind over matter” is longstanding for good reason. I’ll be the first to admit that my willpower or discipline has been the biggest obstacle for different aspects of my life – health/fitness, time management, work, handling stressful situations with friends, family, or my kids. Create some goals around growth and development (think reading, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.). You might be surprised to find that by growing your mind, other areas may fall into place too!
4. START SMALL
I still have an internal struggle with a “go big, or go home” mentality toward life. The problem with going BIG – all or nothing – is that you can’t stay at that level without crashing. The inevitable burnout happens quickly, leaving you discouraged and defeated. Instead of huge goals or having lots of goals you are tackling at once, start small. Focus on the simple habits that will get you to where you want to be over time. For example, pick 1 or 2 (no more than 3, you achievers!) habits to implement in January. When February comes, add on another new habit or two. If the behaviors haven’t become habitual yet, carry them over into the next month before adding new ones.
There you have it! Moms, this is your permission to try something new. To focus on who you want to become, habits you want to build, experiences you want to have, and where you want to direct your focus. To let go of trying to lose that same 20-30 pounds every year if it doesn’t bring you joy or serve you well. A fresh approach could make all the difference in your year.
Maybe you won’t set any goals for the year. But if you do, consider something different than a general resolution statement that could leave you disappointed. It’s never too late to implement a variation of one of these ideas; just because you didn’t start on January 1st doesn’t mean you missed the boat!