by Caroline Bunting-Palmer
Brits have a hard time keeping our New Year's resolutions.
According to the market research company Savanta, 67% of British people said they were making New Year's resolutions for 2020. However, of those who made them at the start of 2019 (50%), almost half (47%) didn't stick to them. And 26% of that group had already broken them by the end of January!
What makes New Year's resolutions so difficult to keep? We have some theories:
- They're often not specific – we don't plan in enough detail to understand the steps needed and keep ourselves accountable
- We're impatient to see results quickly and when we don't, we feel demotivated
- We go in for the resolution too hard, with a fervour that's unsustainable
- We don't even enjoy completing the goal we've set
What if, instead of setting a New Year's resolution for 2021, you tried something potentially much more interesting? Here are our alternatives to New Year's resolutions that'll have you hooked into February – and beyond!
Set a different goal for every month
Surely there isn't only one big resolution you want to achieve in 2021. If you think about it, there are probably many things you're just waiting for the motivation to get done. Setting 12 goals gives you more opportunities to make progress.
You may want to outline 12 goals in a calendar, or prefer to only decide on January's goal for now. For each challenge, plan the action/s you'll be taking each day to achieve it.
When you set a different goal for every month, you won't grow tired of striving towards the same result for months on end. One resolution set in January may be easier to give up on or forget, but this way, every month will bring something new to work hard at.
Make a bucket list
Bucket lists aren't just for birthdays. Make a list of things you want to achieve in 2021, both large and small. These can be anything from deep-sea diving to learning to play the drums. The most important considerations are that they're achievable and that you're really, actually excited about them.
Make sure you set realistic timelines or dates for when you're going to tick off each item, or they may get forgotten as the months pass. Alternatively, plan a bucket list item to be completed by the end of each month.
You get bonus points if most of them are going to challenge you in some way. For instance, you plan a day of climbing, but you're petrified of heights.
Create a list of things to look forward to
Write down every event you can think of that you're excited about and is coming up in the future. These can be large events, like a concert you booked months in advance. Or they can be small, like seeing a friend who's back in town for coffee.
The list really shows its value when you keep going consistently throughout the year. That way, you can look at it and always see that good things are coming. Add to your list as new events get planned, or at the beginning of each month. Choose whichever update frequency is realistic for you, as you're then more likely to stick to doing it.
Having future plans to look forward to can pull us through the challenging or less exciting days.
Keep track of the things you achieve
On the other side of achieving goals is taking a moment to appreciate the progress you've made. Writing down your achievements is a great way to prompt these self-care thoughts.
You can choose to record only lofty achievements, such as hiking a new mountain. In this case, you may not write something down every day. Or you might prefer, for instance, to write down three healthy things you did today, and repeat this every day. If you're having a difficult time, just writing 'I made my bed today' may be something worthy of celebration.
You might never look back on the list you make. But often just the process of writing these positives down provides a healthy subconscious dose of self-love, which can build productive momentum in your life.
Another alternative to being exclusively goal-oriented is to reward yourself when you achieve goals. For example, each time you go for a run, put a paper clip/penny/whatever small item you have plenty of into a jar. Once the jar is full, treat yourself to something that you'll enjoy.
This will give you the extra boost to carry on striving for results, as you'll receive intermittent bonuses that are hard to resist.
Adopt a mantra
Mantras are affirmations that we repeat to ourselves. They encourage us to live more aligned to the life we want. Welcoming a mantra into your life has the potential to change the way you live it substantially. How many resolutions ultimately live up to that?
Take some time to choose one standout mantra for the year. If you need to change after a few months, because you feel it no longer serves you, there are no rules against doing this. Some examples of mantras we love are:
- "No one can take my joy"
- "Things are not being done to me, they are just happening"
- "Expect nothing and appreciate everything"
You can even incorporate your mantra into a meditation practice, by thinking, speaking or chanting it. When you repeat words, it can aid in quietening the mind. That, in turn, will help you reach a greater understanding of the mantra itself.
Using mantras effectively can improve mindfulness, optimism and inner peace. We're then able to achieve stronger focus, as well as increased confidence and motivation.
These alternatives to New Year's resolutions are designed to shift the focus away from struggling for the sake of struggle, and towards true, long-lasting contentedness. We hope you were inspired by one or more of them!