There’s a reason your New Year’s resolutions are difficult to achieve, and that reason is not you. The problem is New Year’s resolutions themselves.
New Year’s resolutions are often very shortsighted or broad, sweeping generalizations about making yourself better. They rarely contain no actionable goals and are predicated on roughly 36 hours of making a mental checklist of everything that’s “wrong” with you.
It’s easy to lose motivation when the only goal you set for yourself is an enormous end result, like losing 15 pounds or spending $200 less per month.
In the spirit of change, there are a couple of alternatives to New Year’s resolutions that should prove more effective for you in 2017.
Try any or all of them, and you’re bound to make some significant strides toward your self-improvement goals!
1. Make a Gratitude List
Your first instinct around the end of the year is to fixate on what’s wrong with you. This is the driving force behind all New Year’s resolutions. The desire of most people is to improve, and the most logical way to do so is to eliminate weaknesses.
One of the most effective alternatives to New Year’s resolutions is to write out a gratitude list. Instead of focusing on the negatives in your life, highlight all of the positive aspects.
Despite their intentions, New Year’s resolutions actually have a tendency to be rather depressing, due to the constant focus on our weaknesses. And because we tend not to set actionable goals for these resolutions, achieving our desired changes can seem like a monumental task.
You should try being thankful and encouraged by what’s great in your life. Being more grateful for your family, friends, stable job, special talents or whatever else it may be will shape the way you strive to better yourself.
Instead of seeing yourself as something broken that needs fixing, you’ll begin to think of yourself as a wonderful human being who’s continuing to improve.
2. Choose a Word of the Year
One of the most common mistakes people make in their New Year’s resolutions is being too narrow-minded. It’s easy to fixate on a single task or area of improvement in your life.
In most cases, it’s good to have a direct goal to work toward, but sometimes you’ll lose yourself in trying to achieve success. You forget why you were reaching toward the goal in the first place.
On the list of great alternatives to New Year’s resolutions is to choose a word of the year. This practice can be applied to just one goal, but may also permeate every aspect of your life.
Think of it as an overarching theme for the year. Try to keep this word at the center of everything you say and do, and in every goal you set for yourself.
In choosing your word, you simply have to ask yourself what kind of person you want to be in the coming year. What’s your intention for making a change? Are there areas or people in your life that you need to be more attuned to?
Once you’ve chosen your word, write it down and plaster it everywhere — your fridge, computer, dashboard, bathroom mirror and anywhere else you’ll pass on a daily basis.
3. Commit to Someone (or Something) Other Than Yourself
The default setting for New Year’s resolutions is to change something about yourself.
What if, this year, you took it in a different direction and devoted your time and attention toward helping others instead? This is easily the most selfless alternative to New Year’s resolutions, and it might just be the most fulfilling, as well.
Some of the purest joy you can derive from life comes from helping others. If you have a hard time accomplishing real change in your own life, it could be a sign that you need to pour more of your time and effort into making other peoples’ lives better.
Donate regularly to a charity that means a lot to you. Volunteer at a local community center or for a program that helps the needy.
When you spend time helping others and improving their well-being, you’ll be amazed at how much your own principles will be strengthened and your outlook on life will be improved.
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