10 Achievable Alternatives to Traditional New Year’s Resolutions
If you’re not about that “new year, new me” vibe that comes with New Year's resolutions, we’re with you. While there are plenty of creative resolutions that are super easy to keep, setting goals can feel like an annual exercise in setting yourself up for disappointment and we always seem to struggle about three months into the new year. We’ve put together this totally inspiring list of 10 alternatives to resolutions that you can experiment with all year long.
1. Start New moon manifestations
We’ve already declared new moon manifestations to be the new New Year’s resolutions. Here’s how it works: At every new moon, you set your intentions for the coming lunar cycle to be fulfilled by the end of the four weeks. These manifestations should be written as though you’ve already accomplished them and should be manageable and detailed — “I go to the gym twice a week,” or “I read the newspaper instead of Instagram every morning.” We suggest keeping a dedicated manifestation journal so you can watch your progress throughout the year.
2. Keep a full moon release list
Historically, farmers have used the lunar cycles to work their crops — plant during the new moon and harvest during the full. So, while new moon manifestations represent the planting of your life decisions, the full moon release list is the harvesting. This means that every full moon, you write out every thought, habit, pattern, and action from all areas of your life that no longer serve you. “I release feelings of resentment toward my boss,” or “I release the need to eat ice cream every night” — whatever you currently do that you no longer want to, write it down and let it go.
3. Start bullet journaling
A new year means a new day planner, and if you’re anything like us, then you live for to-do lists, penciled-in dates, and color-coded everything. Bullet journaling is a hybrid planner-journal method that takes traditional to-dos and combines them with creativity in a customizable, fun format. You just buy a blank notebook, number the pages, create an index, and then go nuts with daily task pages, calendar pages, future logs, and lots of other organizational tools.
4. Set an intentions list
If you tend to be hard on yourself, we suggest setting an intentions list this new year for a gentler way to set goals. Simply write down thoughtful intentions you’d like to carry with you throughout the year and revisit them regularly to keep your mindset on track. We love intentions like “be as kind to myself as I’d be to my best friend” and “look forward to exercise like it’s a luxury rather than an annoying obligation” — they’re specific, attainable, and foster positive growth in your life.
5. Follow a book’s message
Some self-help books are so cheesy it hurts, but there are tons of other practical, positive books that are meant to bring some seriously awesome change to your life. Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes($16)is part memoir, part guidebook on how to radically change your life by simply saying yes to the opportunities that come your way. The 52 Lists Project ($17) by Moorea Seal is a book of list prompts — one for every week of the year — that range from “list things you’d like to be known for” to “list the things you’d change in your life right now if you could.” No matter which book you choose, you’ll have a built-in partner for your year of positive change.
6. Create a TBR list
A year-long “to be read” list is a perfect NYR alternative for anyone who loves to read (or was planning on adding “read more” to their resolutions list). Reading new things really encapsulates so many of the goals we set for ourselves every year — learn something new, travel more, use less screen time, etc. — so it’s time to start flexing that library card. You can set a goal — say, 15 books — and even come up with a theme, like reading only books written by women or books set within a culture that’s different from your own.
7. Choose a word of the year
Find a single word that encapsulates all you hope to accomplish in the new year and make it your motto. Then, every time you need guidance, focus, or clarity in your decision-making or action-taking, check in to see if it aligns with the spirit of your word. “Balance,” “action,” “fun,” “adventure” “contentment,” and “service,” are all great words to see you through amazing change throughout the year.
8. Write a Highlights and Anticipations list
Start by listing all the most sparkling highlights of the previous year, whether it’s something major, like a job promotion, or something smaller, like a memorable night of dancing with your besties. Follow up with a list of everything awesome you’re anticipating for the year ahead — both on the books and TBD. Maybe you’re hoping to adopt a dog or have the best staycation ever; either way, writing a huge happy list spanning 24 months is an amazing way to start a new year.
9. Come up with a goals list
This is probably the most similar to a resolutions list, but still keeps the tone super positive. Here, we suggest writing small, actionable goals that you know you can accomplish. So, instead of a New Year’s resolution that reads “lose 10 pounds,” you can write “go to the gym once a week” or “eat vegetarian on Mondays.” Whatever you’d like to change in the new year, give yourself realistic goals rather than overwhelming directives, and we promise you’ll feel much more motivated to move forward.
10. Make a gratitude list
Sometimes, the only thing you need to do to make a new positive change in your life is to focus on what’s already working. Enter the gratitude list. As the new year rolls around, start writing down all the rad things you’re currently thankful for, from having a roof over your head to a supportive S.O. that always makes you smile. Take account of it all — big and small — and we’re sure you’ll start the new year with renewed motivation.
This post has been updated.
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