Five Alternatives to the New Year’s Resolution


I think we are all ready to usher in a new year, am I right? I’ve never been a huge New Year’s Resolution person, mostly because every time I made one, it never stuck. Even though I am ready for some big changes this coming year, I don’t want to start off with a faulty plan. Unfortunately, most resolutions fail because:

  • The New Year’s Resolution is not specific enough.
  • The New Year’s Resolution has an identified goal, but not a clear reason why attaining that goal is important.
  • Psychology Today also cites examples of New Year’s Resolutions that leave people feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, or resolutions that a person is not quite ready for the change that the resolution has identified. 

That being said, it can still be a good idea to start the new year with some time of reflection and, even, a plan. Luckily, there are several creative ways to do that that are NOT your standard New Year’s Resolutions. 

Here are five ways you kick the new year off without relying on resolutions:

Vision Board

It’s exactly like it sounds: a board of pictures and quotes (you can make digital vision boards on places like Canva or PicMonkey easily take pics from the internet – but old school magazine and poster board vision boards work too!) that represent your vision – your goals and inspiration – for the year. It’s not magic – like, when you put the stuff on the board it doesn’t magically appear or happen (dang it, right?!), but the vision board becomes a place for you to visualize and focus on what is important to you and what you would like to accomplish. The bonus is, having a tangible, visible reminder you can look at daily helps keep the inspiration going!

30 Day Challenge

I’m a huge fan of the 30 Day Challenge. I tend to do several of these over the course of a year. One reason I like the 30 Day Challenge is because starting off small, focusing on just one thing for 30 days, can help you jump start your way to longer challenges and goals. There are 30 Day Challenges for everything – from healthy eating to squats and push-ups, to de-cluttering spaces in your home, to reading one poem a day all year, to finding ways to spend time for yourself. You can check out several creative and inspiring 30 Day Challenge options from writer Rebecca Benson over at Unexpectedly Domestic

Annual Bucket List

The Annual Bucket List helps shape your annual experience, not about huge long-term goals but focuses on experiences and activities you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t; those things that you want to do or accomplish to make your life richer, for the entire year (and longer, ideally). You can have many small items on your bucket list or you can have larger items with smaller bucket lists tasks that help lead you to that goal. Or, you can create a list that is a combination. Some items off my current bucket list include: hike three new challenging trails in our city, ride my bike to work at least once, (re)learn French. The Annual Bucket List is also a way for the entire family to get involved with a family bucket list. 

Focus Word

What could focusing on just one word do to guide your days, your practice, your experience of the year? It’s important to pick one word that resonates with you, and that will help you show up every day of the year in the ways that you want, that are most important to you. Before choosing the word, it’s important to reflect on your year and your hopes for the coming year, tell others about your word (how do they respond?), and brainstorm a list of words and narrow down the choices. Clare Kumar shares a list of reflection questions in her post How to choose your powerful focus word of the year that can help you in narrowing down your Focus Word for the coming year. Fellow San Diego Moms Blogger, Tracie, is trying out the Focus Word this year. In her brainstorm and reflection she noted she wanted to be fearless and carefree, but neither of those words seemed to fit just right, but the action of both of those – bold – seemed perfect. So, her word for the year is bold. Can’t wait to see where that boldness takes her!!”

365-Day Project

This one takes some commitment and planning. In this alternative to the resolution, you choose one thing you are going to do every day for 365 days (the year): perhaps you want to walk 3 miles every day, or meditate or pray for 10 minutes, or talk to a relative on the phone, or write a little bit of your novel, or spend time reading to your children. Whatever you choose, you commit to doing that one thing for the entire year. Marelisa Fabrega, a writer over at Daring to Live Fully, offers tips and ideas to get you started on your very own 365-day project. 


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