New Year's Resolutions Alternatives

New Year's Resolutions Alternatives

Nichelle Haynes, DO

The new year can seem like a great time to turn things around. It may seem like the time to start that new exercise routine, change your diet in some way, start a new self-care plan, or focus on some way of making yourself “a new person.” We have all heard the expression “new year, new me!” While I really identify with this sentiment and the desire to change things for the better, most of the New Year's Resolutions I hear are about adding something in. When we are already exhausted after nearly 2 years of COVID, gender pay gaps, the emotional burden of all the negative news we hear, the planning, the healing, etc., adding something in can really feel like a lot. Adding something to your already full plate can feel very overwhelming and can contribute to “failing” at your resolutions. 

So this year, I encourage you to consider some resolution alternatives: 

1-Instead of adding something, consider taking something away. This can be applied to many of the different traditional resolutions. If you’re wanting to improve your health by changing your diet, instead of adding meal planning and time spent trying to figure out how to stick to an unrealistic plan, consider taking away one takeout meal or drive through a week and replacing it with whatever you’re already doing at home. You could also take away ½ of the fries and replace them with a side salad or a yummy vegetable side. These small changes can really add up without feeling overwhelming and you have plenty of opportunities to celebrate a win rather than be disappointed.

If you’re trying to feel better overall and focus on loving yourself, another thing you could consider taking away is negative self-talk. This requires some energy, especially at first, but the first step is to notice how you’re talking to yourself. A lot of times we don’t realize how mean we are to ourselves and this internal dialogue can contribute to feeling down or sad more often than we would like. My barometer here is “would you say this to your best friend?” Be your own best friend and be kinder to yourself. 

2-Instead of creating a specific resolution you can choose one word you’d like to focus on this year. Spend a little time thinking about how you would like 2022 to look or feel differently than in years past. What do you want to focus on in 2022? Connection with your kiddos? Creating joy? Confidence? Nourishing your body and mind? Being dedicated to any specific theme? Pick one word and expand upon this meaning. Each day, try to create some time to reflect on your word and how you can use your intention for the year to guide you. This can really take away some of the pressure and include a nuanced way of thinking into your routine. Sometimes traditional resolutions focus on a specific number or goal and if you “mess up” once or twice it opens the door to give up. If you have a specific focus for the year you can take each day as it comes and there is no specific expectation. You do what you can and that’s great!

3-Don’t put the pressure of New Year’s Resolutions on yourself at the new year. Instead, take the first month of the year to reflect on what is and isn’t working for you. There is nothing special about January 1st, you can make a change on any day and if January 1 isn’t the right time for you to decide what would work best for you then feel free to take your time to decide. If March 5th is the right time for you then it's much better than trying on January 1st!

4-Instead of focusing on making changes to your body via diet and exercise, make the focus on loving yourself just as you are. It is absolutely okay if you’re ready and want to start a new exercise routine or improve your physical fitness or diet. But you do not have to! Often, when we are disliking parts of our bodies it is because of external messages we receive. Furthermore, these messages often come from corporations which profit off of your dislike. You (probably) never thought a thing about your eyelashes until you saw a commercial telling you that your eyelashes “should” be thick, long and really noticeable. You buy the mascara because the company, very convincingly, told you that the way you were born isn’t good enough. If you love makeup you’re welcome to absolutely go for it and have all the fun with it! This example hopefully highlights the ways in which the way you feel about your body is often the result of a company telling you that you aren’t beautiful just as you are. You are beautiful. If you catch yourself thinking you dislike something about your body, try to remind yourself of this. I often try to say to myself “who is profiting off of this dislike?” and “who told me to not like this?” and it helps put things into perspective for me. 

5-Create a bucket list of things you’d like to do in 2022. Instead of resolving to do a certain thing each day or week, plan a list of things you want to accomplish for the entire year. Maybe this is “buy a car” or to read a certain book. You can include fun activities like travel (safely, please!), learning a new skill, trying a new cuisine or anything that feels like it would enrich your life. If you create a bucket list and work on it throughout the year there is less pressure to do anything at any one time. You can leave it for a while and come back to it when the time is right, while still making 2022 meaningful. 

I hope some of these ideas sparked something for you and will be helpful in this upcoming year. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2022!