New Year, New You: 6 Alternatives to Creating New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is upon us, and that means declarations of new years resolutions and self-promises are in full gear. This sounds awesome, but let’s face it – year after year we do this. We make a promise to work out 5 times a week and then you catch a cold and your routine goes out the window. You promise to lose 5 lbs, but your coworker brings in chocolate cake for a birthday and your diet is toast. You promise to kick your small business into gear and then well, life happens, and your business, well, doesn’t. So what’s a person to do? That’s where a business plan for your life, comes in handy.

Why new year’s resolutions don’t work

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but new years resolutions don’t work. At least for the 99%. If you happen to be part of the 1%, then not only consider yourself lucky but TELL ME YOUR WAYS!

*insert frantic jealous green monster here*

Ok, but in all seriousness, they don’t tend to work, and here’s why. You are plucking an idea out of thin air (IE the promise), and declaring it to be existent. You aren’t doing the back work for this idea to come to fruition. Back work being research, planning, and dreaming – the hard work before the literal hard work. You are simply trying to will it into existence for the sake of it being ‘January first’.

In fact, statistically speaking, people who make ‘resolutions’ mid-year actually tend to keep them better than those who kick off the new year with one. Why? Because they are making these changes for the RIGHT reasons, not because society has imposed this weird concept of ‘new year, new you’ (oh, you caught that in the title did you? ;)).

Now let’s back up for a minute. We always start the year with good intentions, full of motivation and excitement for said resolution, and then…burn out. Once the excitement of something new wears off, we’re left with the reality of hard work and intention. Couple this with society’s forgiveness that ‘no one keeps their new year’s resolutions’ and all that hard work spirals down the drain without anyone noticing.

Alternatives for setting ‘New Year’s Resolutions’

You may be wondering what to do if not create a new year’s resolutions. Well, there are alternatives that tend to work better.

  1. Set a word/intention of the year
  2. Create a bucket list
  3. Set a quarterly plan
  4. Craft a detailed business plan for your life
  5. Do a monthly/yearly challenge
  6. Life audit with new KPI

We’ll go through each of them momentarily, but more importantly, there is the reason these work better than plucking a yearly goal and going with it. That reason is the intention behind it. Intention single-handedly determines if someone will achieve something they set their mind to. Now if your intention falls apart midway (ahem, or less), don’t despair. Read on to figure out which of these resolution alternatives may work better for you!

Setting a word or intention for the year

Let’s just start with the elephant in the room. Setting a word or intention for the year is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions alternatives in the past few years. And the fact is, there is a good reason for it. And the reason is in the title, intention.

Intention creates a healthy mindset around your goal and motivates you subconsciously to achieve it. Sounds kinda magical right? Well if you have skepticism around the topic of esoterism, I have good news, it’s not. It’s science (search Neuro-Linguistic Programming to learn more. I am finishing my certification in NLP and will have more information on my site soon for you!).

All in all, think of it this way: new year’s resolutions are a goal, such as I want to lose 20 pounds. That’s it, you have a target, but no way of getting there. You may know the basics; calorie deficit, working out, healthy eating blah blah blah. So you throw those into a metaphorical blender, and then by February, you aren’t seeing results so you burn out and give up.

Alternatively, you set an intention or word: HEALTH, or be healthy. No specific targets or obstacles, just a path of intention. Now you’re looking at choices such as whole milk versus almond milk, parking up close, or parking a little further away, doing nothing today, or waking up with some yoga. When your intention becomes the forefront of your day you subconsciously begin making choices aligned with that intention.

Now before you start thinking that’s EASY, let’s get real. Setting a word or intention is far bigger than just stating it and moving on. You need to live it, breathe it, embody this idea. Many suggest doing meditation or journaling before choosing your intention to ensure it’s the correct one aligned with your heart, soul, and physical needs.

I recommend asking yourself a few questions before you start:

  1. What do you wish your life looked like right now?
  2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  3. What kinds of things will lead you to this outcome? (New job? New city? New relationship? etc.)
  4. What is the overall vibe or flow you want your life to feel like?

Now focus on these answers, imagine what you want to create, and meditate, even if it’s just five minutes, envision your life on this path and find a word that encompasses it. It’s important to connect on an emotional level with these dreams, otherwise, the intention won’t stick.

Lastly, when creating an intention you must embrace it as a truth, not a possible outcome. This means it would be written as ‘I AM HEALTHY’ not, “I want to be healthy”. Similar to manifestation, consider it already done.

Create a Bucket List

This is a fun one! For 2020 (pre-covid), my husband and I dug out our individual bucket lists and each chose a few to accomplish for the year. It was so exciting to envision items we have wanted to achieve for most of our lives actually coming to fruition! Here’s the best part, we achieved almost all of them! Admittedly a few setbacks between covid, and just life in general, but we worked daily towards our goals in ways we never had before, and checking something off the list was the most inspirational and self-satisfying thing of my life.

So why does it work? Similar to intentions, your life-long bucket list was created through your heart and soul. These are internal wishes and desires your soul is begging for you to accomplish, and by choosing that path your body and soul are already ready to align and help you achieve them.

Now some will say you need to create a plan for the item(s) you choose to achieve for the year, others say create a bucket list and just live and the opportunities will naturally come to you. Whichever you decide, just remember to open your heart and listen. Sometimes the universe is knocking with opportunities but you are so focused on your plan you don’t hear it. Other times you are so open to opportunities you take each and everyone, regardless if it resonates or aligns with your intentions which may send you down a path you didn’t intend.

For example: two of my goals this year were to write 12 picture book manuscripts and 1 middle-grade manuscript. I wrote 3 picture books and 1 middle grade in the first six months of the year. Then I stumbled. I couldn’t find the motivation to continue. I took long breaks, meditated, pulled tarot cards, did yoga, etc. but couldn’t refocus on the plan I had set for myself.

Finally, I pulled a new set of cards with more open questions, to find out what my heart was truly telling me, and it turns out, kidlit isn’t in my heart as much as I thought it was. When I pulled up my middle-grade manuscript and hated it for being a kid’s book, and I was less than inspired (dare I say…embarrassed) over my picture books.

With this realization, I looked at my manuscript in a new light and realized maybe this was supposed to be an adult horror instead. For the rest of the year, I found myself writing brand new genres, including poetry and short stories, once I let go of kidlit as my intention and opened myself to writing in general instead. Now things feel far more inspiring and aligned to my true self.

All this to say – listen to what your heart is telling you. If something feels off, it probably is. Just because you wanted to do something for years, doesn’t mean it will live up to expectations, or be the right fit for you. Now, go dust off your bucket list and jump in!

Set a Quarterly Plan

The quarterly plan. You could think of this as a short term resolution, a milestone goal, a mini intention, or a short term business plan. Whatever works for you! The idea is you are only making plans for a 3 month period of time. January to March, April to June, etc.

What tiny thing could you focus on for that amount of time and accomplish? Think back to words and intentions, how could you make it happen in 3 months? Consider your bucket list items: perhaps it’s a milestone on that journey, or it only focuses on the first step, or perhaps you accomplish the entire ‘project’.

By only focusing on a short amount of time, you leave the rest of the year open to interpretation and new paths. You get to reevaluate, create, and approach new dreams, and desires as they come up. This is great for people with ADHD who have a difficult time finishing projects. It doesn’t give you much time to get distracted but still allows you to change things up when you start getting that itch!

How you organize your quarterly plan is up to you. Maybe its weekly goals, or monthly goals. Maybe its monthly milestones, or even a new project every month.

For example: Maybe your quarterly plan is HEALTH focused. So the first month you focus on quick fixes. Maybe that means purging the junk food, researching food, and making quick swaps in the kitchen. In the second month maybe you focus on exercise; finding time in your schedule, testing out different workouts (running versus the elliptical, yoga versus Pilates, circuit training versus the gym, etc.) to find out what works best for you. In the third month, you put it all together and take it a step further. Working out twice a week? Let’s up it to 3. Pescatarian and feeling better? Maybe look into more vegetarian days on the menu.

Results may vary, but the idea is to make small incremental focus points so you don’t burn out, and you don’t get bored!

Business Plan for your Year

You may or may not have ever heard of a business plan for your life, it can actually be quite detailed and intense but they can also be insanely motivating and exciting! This is perfect for type A people who love to plan every detail. That being said, they are great for everyone because they truly help you see what’s important and stay focused.

Now a business plan for your year cuts that down to just the upcoming 12 months. The point of a business plan isn’t to detail every second for the next 365 days, but instead, create authentic milestones that align with your purpose and mission.

Create you business plan can be summed up in 6 easy steps:

  1. Define your purpose and mission over the next year. (What do you enjoy doing? What do you wish you could spend your time doing? What are you passionate about?). [need help figuring this step out? Check out my ‘Find Your Purpose’ Tarot Reading to get you on track!]
  2. Visualize success at the end of the next year. (How does it feel, taste, smell, what does it look and sound like exactly? Consider your career, hobbies, relationships, mental and spiritual health, etc.).
  3. What exactly are your goals for the year? (Turn the visual of success into specific goals to achieve).
  4. What critical milestones do you need to achieve to hit that success spot?
  5. What outward factors affect you achieving your goals? (Analyze what your strengths and weaknesses are, what kind of time, or money or resources will you need?).
  6. Now put it together! Define what that success map will look like so you can create attainable milestones through the year to keep you on track!

Need more help? Check the shop in the new year for a whole assortment of helpful tools and ebooks to help you do this!

Do a Challenge

Some challenges are weekly, while others go for an entire month, still, others are daily. There are thousands of groups with prompts and communities at the ready to welcome you, or if you prefer lone wolf – choose one and go for it!

So why does a ‘challenge’ work? Doing a challenge keeps you focused on the deadline and the goal in sight. A challenge with a community is great for keeping you motivated and on track. The best part is, you get to choose how long you stay focused. Only have an attention span for 30 days? Perfect. Only have a week to spare this month? Done. Want to really push yourself this year? We gotcha!

They are also an awesome way to get yourself to try new things! Anything from self-love in 5 days to rewiring your brain for joy in 30 days to taking a photo-a-day for 365 days! The opportunities are literally endless, so start googling your favorite hobbies, or ones you wish you had picked up, or search by the time you can allot instead. You may be surprised what kind of support, resources, and communities exist to help you push through a challenge!

Life Audit

I know, I know the name alone is not terribly exciting. But hear me out! A life audit takes a deep dive look into your life and figures what’s going on. Where is it going? Where do you want ‘it’ to go? It considers your career, your hobbies, your relationships, your spirituality, your physical and mental health (sound familiar?).

It’s pretty similar to a business plan for your year as well. I would consider it a far deeper, and less emotional version. A life audit is not a quick process, it’s an exercise in self-reflection and tells us exactly what we need to know (which is often the opposite of what we want to know)!

So how does this work as an alternative to a new year’s resolutions? Well, often we throw a cheap resolution into the air such as “lose 20 pounds” (I love that I keep using this example but change the weight each time because I can’t remember what I wrote before!). However, is that really what we need? Not necessarily.

A life audit might reveal that you don’t necessarily need to lose 20 pounds. Instead, you’ve just lost confidence in your physique. Or perhaps even deeper, your significant other doesn’t appreciate your physique and that makes you feel worse about yourself. So in fact the desire to lose 20 pounds is really a need to get out of an unhealthy relationship (or work on it). Or maybe you realize you are doing everything you need to be to lose that 20, but it doesn’t seem to be working so you go to the doctor with the correct questions and find out about an underlying condition.

So the life audit puts us back on track to focus on the correct areas that we need to focus on, not the areas that we think we need to improve.

So how do you do a life audit? They are done a thousand different ways, and you can search for one to walk you through the process and help you create a step-by-step process to get your life back on track!

Truthfully, I’ve barely scraped the surface on the potential for new year’s resolutions alternatives, that said this is a great list to get you thinking: how can I change my life this year? How can I actually make my dreams, desires, and ambitions come true?

There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ option for everyone. We’re all living our own lives, our own careers and hobbies, our own ambitions and dreams. No two are alike and that is a beautiful thing!

Still feel lost? Try out a tarot read! I have two brand new spreads perfect for this time of year!

  • Disrupting the Cycle: provides an overview of patterns and lessons from the past 12 months and the future 12 months.
  • Fresh Start: provides a jumpstart for the new year (or new season!)

Use coupon code [NEWYEAR] to get 20% of either of these and start your new year right!

Are you going to try a new year’s resolutions alternative this year? Drop in the comments which one!

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and struggling to appreciate the day-to-day? IN PURSUIT OF JOY is a printable eWorkBook providing real-life encouragement, a mindset refresh, and practical self-care activities to help you rediscover the joy of being alive! Every purchase helps keep the blog alive and supplied with free material, so thank you! ♥

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