Inspiring Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions
Wheel of the Year
04 January 2021
Inspiring Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions

Have you ever succeeded in achieving your New Year’s resolutions? If not, don’t worry - you’re just like the rest of us. Apparently most people lose steam for their New Year's resolutions by mid-February, with the the failure rate at about 80%.

The fact is, most of us set our expectations too high, which puts unnecessary pressure on ourselves. This, plus lack of clarity and the right support systems in place, makes a perfect recipe for failure pie. And after such a trying year, 2021 should be filled with happy, positive things to look forward to!

That’s why we’ve put together a little list of inspiring alternatives to New Year’s resolutions. These might prove to be more light-hearted, meaningful and therefore doable than your typical goals for the New Year.

Decide on a Theme or Word of the Year

A theme or word of the year allows you to hone in on your priorities and approach positive change from a more balanced, realistic place. Having a theme or word for the year rather than a resolution allows you to make mistakes, try again, and stay focused for the long-haul. It allows you to stay on track while growing in a way that’s natural and authentic.

Some tips on how to decide on a theme or a word of the year:

  • First determine what your realistic goals are for the year
  • Envision who you want to be in achieving those goals
  • Draw upon what inspires you
  • Choose something that can elevate you and keep you motivated throughout the year ahead

Create a List of Things to Look Forward to

With so many things cancelled this past year, we had the opportunity to reflect on the activities we truly love to do. 2020 gave us the gift of not taking anything for granted and appreciating what we have – even a relaxed trip to the cinema feels like a luxury now!

Create a list of things to look forward to by writing down everything you want to do in 2021, big or small. Make it extra special by writing (or printing) it on nice paper and hanging it on your fridge. Tick things off as you’ve done them.

Write a Bucket List

Bucket lists are the perfect opportunity to dream big. We love them because they can be a source of inspiration and joy. Plus:

  • It’s fun to dream about all the things you’d like to do
  • You don’t have to go in a particular order
  • There’s no pressure to get anything done within a certain time frame
  • It’s so satisfying when you manage to tick something off the list
  • They’re an opportunity to reflect on how you’re evolving – especially if you make it a tradition to write one every year

Commit to Doing One Small Thing for Yourself Every Day

We love this idea because it has the flexibility one might need to keep it up throughout the year. You can start with one thing and change it later, or decide to do something different every day. It could be as simple as drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, reading a book before bed, stretching, or walking for 10 minutes every day. The great thing is by committing to do one small thing for yourself, you’ll effectively be taking better care of yourself. And a lot of small things add up.

Start with a 28-Day Challenge

Committing to improving yourself for an entire year can be daunting. However, doing a 28-day challenge can be a great place to start because it’s a manageable time frame. And whilst there’s no pressure to keep going beyond 28 days, it provides the structure to jump-start a healthy habit that could last.

Some tips for choosing a 28-day challenge:

  • Choose one that makes you excited and inspired
  • Prepare your mind before you start – often mental preparation is more important than anything else
  • Prepare your physical surroundings as necessary depending on the type of challenge you're doing – i.e. get rid of food you won’t be eating, and if you can’t because of your family or roommates, designate a cupboard for your food so you don’t stray; make sure you have the necessary exercise clothes, equipment and/or set up
  • Make a plan for how to ease our of the 28-day challenge
  • Do it with a buddy to help make it more interesting
  • Tell your friends and family, which will help hold you accountable

Rather than attempting a full on rehaul of your life, why not choose just one area, or micro-area of your life to improve? Here are some ideas we came up with to help you discover what you could focus on:

  • Get more organised
  • Spend more time with friends
  • Find a new hobby
  • Exercise more regularly
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Eat less refined sugar
  • Have more quality family time
  • Spend less time on social media
  • Learn to meditate
  • Take regular walks
  • Drink more water

Choosing one area to improve makes doing it much more manageable rather than piling on the pressure to improve it all and be perfect.

Make a Vision Board

Vision boards are traditionally made on poster board with images and words from magazine cuttings, but you can make them any way you like. You can create vision boards on your computer in the form of collages and use the photo as a background for your phone.

Important things to keep in mind:

  • They should visually communicate what your goals look like achieved
  • You should feel excited and inspired when you look at your board
  • It should live in your bedroom or somewhere in your house, where you can see it daily
  • You “work” your board by creating a ritual around envisioning yourself already living those goals as a current reality

Example vision board themes:

  • Health goals
  • Fitness goals
  • Family goals
  • Relationship goals
  • House goals
  • Travel goals
  • Or all of the above!

Do a 365-Day Project

Uninspired by resolutions, but want a longer-term challenge? Do a 365-day project and document it! Choose something you’re inspired to do every day for the entire year...and do it!

Here are some ideas for a 365-day project:

  • Take a one second video
  • Take a self-portrait (or someone else’s portrait)
  • Watch the sunset
  • Draw something
  • Paint something
  • Keep a daily diary
  • Start a dream journal
  • Write a poem
  • Read a book
  • Go on a walk, no matter what
  • Or walk somewhere new
  • Have tea with a friend
  • Pet a dog (or a cat!)
  • Give a compliment
  • Smile at a stranger
  • Do a random act of kindness
  • Check on a friend, family member or neighbour

Tell us! What are your plans for New Year's resolutions? Have you ever done any of the above? Which idea is your favourite? We want to know. Join the conversation, we'd love to hear from you.