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3 Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions!


Are you tired of dragging out a journal or opening a Word doc to catalog the ways in which you will most likely not succeed in the new year? Resolutions – to me anyway – seem the best way to house all the those ill-conceived hopes and broken dreams. In the bad old days, my annual list of resolutions served as a daily memorial of all the things I had convinced myself were holding my happiness hostage. I’m probably not going to be “more productive”; whatever that means. One of my friends dutifully places those same 15lbs on her list each year, despite giving up on dieting about ten years ago. “It’s like a habit,” she told me as we laughed about resolution lists from years past. New Year’s resolutions in and of themselves aren’t horrible, but for some reason what started as pretty nice way to prepare for the arrival of a new year has turned into an activity whose mandate seems to include beating up the exiting year before tossing it out into the snow. Here are three alternatives to that dreaded list o’ resolutions that proudly retire the previous year while welcoming in the new one.

    1. Write your December 2011 self a letter

    Far more productive than a written list of ways you seek to contort your personality into something that isn’t you and probably won’t do whatever it is you think it might is writing yourself a letter. Seriously, are you really going to be a better writer if you have a well furnished, tricked out home office? Most likely not. You’ll just be someone who still manages to find excuses not to write, but the only difference is you’ll be making those excuses in much cushier digs. Writing a letter to your future self circumvents all of those dubious hopes and dreams – the ones holding your psyche hostage post-holiday – and inadvertently puts those aspirations and goals into tangible action steps. As you describe what new hotness transpired over the course of a year, no doubt you’ll will have to detail what activities took place and what were the results of those activities. Plus, it’s surprisingly fun.

    2. Gather up your old lists and play detective

    Depending on your lists, there will be recurring themes in addition to recurring items. If something keeps appearing on your list, year after doggone year, most likely there is something to it. Except you just haven’t managed to tap into the actual desire represented by your list item. For many years, “lose weight” was often on my list. I can’t really recall when its appearance on my resolution list actually led to any actual weight loss, though I have certainly lost and gained a few pounds in my day. Whatever I thought I would gain, lose or transform by shedding pounds didn’t happen. It’s a vague and unhelpful goal for me. However, when I did the detective work I realized I probably just wanted to feel good and strong; surprisingly there are lots of way to accomplish that specific goal and most don’t involve looking at pictures of slender women who kind of resemble me, putting their smiling pictures on my fridge and hoping for the best. In my experience there are goals we say we want to accomplish and then there are goals we actually do want to accomplish Sometimes it takes closely examining our past – while letting go of goals that are no longer applicable – in order to parse out what we truly want to accomplish. The best part: if you do go back to making lists you’ll have a couple of items you’ll never have to list again.

    3. Make a different sort of resolution list

    Make a list of books you want to read. Or movies you want to watch or people you want to retire from your social circle. What about a list of home repairs you want to make or songs you want to put on your song-a-day 2011 mix. You get the point. New Year’s Resolutions give us the gift of mastery and that can be gained via any activity you successfully complete.

Okay so this list is born somewhat out of self-interest. See, I am a bit of gym person. I like going to the gym because of the free cable and magazines there. They also have bagels and orange juice on the first Thursday of every month. But from now until about the middle of the January I will have to go to the gym at 2am if I have any shot of getting a treadmill near a monitor showing a channel I actually like. So I’m hoping if I can get people to rethink their annual, “get in shape” resolution I’ll be able to enjoy my gym time!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. hsofia permalink
    12/30/2010 4:27 am

    The Christmas card I always look forward to most is from a friend who handmakes simple Christmas cards, and then includes a narrow slip of paper breaking down highlights from the year that’s just ended. At the end, she lists the number of new books and movies she’s read, and names a few favorites. This year she read 93 books! She is my book reading hero, and I’m SO motivated to make a movie/book to-do list for 2011. In fact, I think I’m going to need a PLANNER.

  2. 12/30/2010 8:48 pm

    These options are much better than a list of resolutions. I personally think change can come at any point of the year or our lives. It is very silly to think that the turn of the calendar will cause us to conquer something we put on a list. Ideally, each year should be better than the last but for that to happen it takes work in all aspects of our lives not just losing that last 15lbs.


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