“New Year’s resolutions.” To some, those words are filled with pure possibility...an invitation to start anew, complete with better habits and corrected flaws. But to the rest of us, they’re a joke—a fast path to wasted gym memberships, broken promises and wilted wishes.
If you fall into the latter camp, you might just need a new New Year’s tradition. In that spirit, here are a few alternatives to the annual resolve-o-rama. Think of them as kinder, healthier and, quite possibly, more successful ways to embrace your own potential.
Take a meaningful, realistic step toward a better life. Go for a walk. Reconnect with an old friend. Apologize for a wrongdoing. Make one small move toward a life of change. You just might be inspired to do it again…and again!
Strict rules can be all too easy to break. Try looser guidelines instead! Don’t decide to exercise every single day—how about twice a week? Don’t swear off fried food forever—just indulge yourself occasionally. Ease back on your expectations a little...and if you end up doing more, yay for you!
Instead of constantly reminding yourself of your many faults, make a list of the things you admire about yourself. Maybe you’re a great friend, an awesome letter-writer or a generous volunteer. In the coming year, resolve to be even more amazing at things you’re already good at.
Even if your companions have completely different goals, things just seem to go better when you have a group to share and celebrate with. Don’t know where to start? Try these ideas or check out sites like Oneword365.com, where people choose a single word to inspire their daily choices throughout the year and then share their stories.
Sometimes the first step to making a change is admitting that you’re not going to do it perfectly—and that’s OK. Just because you ate a piece of cake doesn’t mean your plan for healthy eating is ruined forever. Just because you skipped the gym doesn’t mean you’re destined to live life as a couch potato. We’re all human, and we all mess up. Forgive yourself and start over.
Penny Krugman Howard is a freelance writer who resolves to eat better. This does not mean she will be saying “no” to dark chocolate with salted caramel, which to her would be like saying “no” to happiness.