The Best Alternatives To New Year’s Resolutions

Does the idea setting new year's resolutions make you cringe? Read to find out the best alternatives to new year's resolutions and start the year off right!

It’s that time of year again! And if the thought of setting another New Year’s Resolution makes you cringe, I’ve got 10 alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions that will help you make next year your best year yet!

Alternatives To New Year’s Resolutions:

Set An Impossible Goal

The first of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions is to set an impossible goal.

We’re usually told to make sure our goals are realistic. The only problem is that we are usually filled with so much self-doubt and so little self-belief that we negotiate our way to a goal that is so realistic it’s barely even a stretch. When a goal is realistic, it’s neither inspiring or compelling and we decide we may as well just stay the way we are.

Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School Podcast instead encourages students of her online program Self-Coaching Scholars to set an impossible goal for the year. And I absolutely love this idea! (Btw I’m not sponsored by or affiliated with Brooke in any way, I’m just one of her students who’s in love with everything she has to offer).

An impossible goal is a goal that you are willing to work towards for the next year, regardless of whether or not you achieve it. The benefits of committing to an impossible goal is that it requires you to grow as a person and you have to learn how to handle rejection, move past ‘failure’ and continue even when you’re disheartened (which are all incredibly important life skills).

The language of impossibility also means that you can tell your brain to shut up when it starts telling you to give up. You already know it’s impossible, so you don’t need to have a debate about it. Remember, the point here isn’t necessarily to achieve the impossible goal but to learn and evolve on your way to achieving it. And if you achieve the impossible goal – what a bonus!

The process? Set one impossible goal that you are willing to work towards for the next year, regardless of whether or not you achieve it (if your brain doesn’t freak out and tell you it’s not possible, then it’s not impossible enough). Next, write down all the reasons that you won’t be able to achieve the goal. Then, answer each of those obstacles and objections with a solution. Also have a think about the kind of person you will need to become to achieve your impossible goal by bringing to mind someone you admire that could achieve your impossible goal if they were to stand in your shoes. Write down a list of all of their qualities, their beliefs and the kinds of action they take. Finally, write down a list of 25 experiments that you are willing to do each quarter to work towards your impossible goal (note: each of these experiments must have the possibility of failure). And then get to work!

This is personally how I will be setting my goal for the new year. For more on Brooke’s goal-setting processing, listen to her podcast episode on How To Set Goals, Do Goals and The Power of Planning and buckle up for a mind-blowing year!

Do A 30-Day Habit Trial

The next of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions is to do a 30-day habit trial.

If you find that you psych yourself out of new habits before you’ve even get started (because forever seems like a bloody long time), you might like to try a 30-day trial. This is something that one of my favourite teachers, Steve Pavlina, shared on his blog and I love the idea. Basically, a 30-day trial is just a way to test out a new habit before committing to it fully. This makes it seem much more manageable and allows you to try out things that you’re not 100% sure will be a good fit for your lifestyle (like a new diet).

The process? Read this blog post on Steve Pavlina’s blog for all the instructions and a list of different trials you can experiment with!

If you want to give this a go, my recommendation is to brainstorm a list of twelve 30-day habit trials you would like to try over the year. Pick either the easiest one or the one that is the most compelling and then do the 30-day trial. At the end of the 30-day trial, assess how it went and decide what the next best step is. It’s important here not to overwhelm yourself with a schedule of 30-day trials as that kind of defeats the point!

Make 90-Day Goals

Another one of the alternatives to new year’s resolutions is to make 90-day goals.

One approach to new year goal-setting is to set yourself a 90-day goal. I’ve done this in the past and found that 90-days is a large enough period of time that you can aim for something substantial but a small enough period of time that it’s not completely intimidating, you’re still relatively motivated and you don’t have time to procrastinate.

The process? Read this great article by Tom Mendoza on Forbes or if you use a Bullet  Journal (or want to), learn  how Kimberley Job uses her Bullet Journal to set 90 goals here.

Pick A Yearly Challenge

The next of the alternatives to new year’s resolutions is to pick a yearly challenge.

If there are too many things in your life that you want to change, why not try setting yourself a yearly challenge? Mark Zuckerberg sets himself a challenge every year to learn new things and grow outside of the work he does for Facebook. Every single challenge is specific and clear, and designed to improve his life and/or his understanding of life in someway.

The process? Read this article about the yearly challenges Mark has completed for inspiring and then create a challenge for yourself that is specific and will cause you to learn new things and grow (to make sure your challenge is specific, you should be able to tell someone else your challenge and they would know exactly what action they need to take and would know exactly how to measure whether they have been successful).

Create A 365 Day Project

One of my favourites of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions is to create a 365 Day Project.

A 365 Day Project is something that you commit to working on each day of the year. I actually started doing this in September 2017 when I started a daily vlog to document my personal growth journey over a year, called 365 Days of Personal Growth. A 365 Day Project is a great way to make a goal bite-sized, so you can keep yourself focused and committed. Document it on social media for extra accountability and the opportunity to inspire others!

The process? Read this article on Daring To Live Fully for more details on how to create your own 365 Day Project and a list of different projects you can try, from photography to meditation, a morning routine to writing. 

Choose A Word of the Year

Another of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions is simply to pick a theme for the year by identifying one word (or a few words) that will encapsulate your intentions and focus.

The process?  There are lots of different ways to do it, but I personally love the approach in this article from A Pair & A Spare.

Write A Letter As Your Future Self

One of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions that you might not have thought of is writing a letter as your future self. Writing a letter as your future self is a powerful exercise to help you visualise success and create a reality that currently feels out of reach.

The process? Get a hot cup of tea and a pen and paper (because a handwritten letter is always best). In the top righthand corner, write down the date that your Future Self is from (if you’re doing this as an alternative to a new year’s resolution I recommend making the date 31 December of the next year). Think of how old you will be on that date.

Then, starting with the phrase ‘a year ago from today’, describe how you feel about your day-to-day life and any fears or worries you have about the coming year – refer to your present-day self as ‘you’ and use the past tense (e.g. A year ago today, you were worried that you wouldn’t be able to get a job and stressed about money). Be as descriptive as possible. Paint a picture.

Once you’ve done that, begin to tell your present-day self (as your future self) what it feels like to have achieved your goals and created the life you want. Use as many descriptive words as you possibly can so that it feels like you have already achieved your goals. Finally, as your future self, give some encouragement to your present-day self.

Once you’re finished, place the letter somewhere safe and put a reminder in your phone or calendar to read it on 31 December of the next year. Alternatively, you can use FutureMe to send the letter to you as an email (obviously, you’ll have to type the letter out for this to happen – but I definitely recommend handwriting f irst as this will bring your best ideas to light).

Make A Difference In Your Community

If you’re tired of focusing on yourself, you might like to take another one of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions – making a difference in your community. Is there an organisation you’ve been wanting to volunteer for, is there a group of people you’d like to help or is there a new initiative you want to create? The new year is the perfect time to create a goal around the contribution you’d like to make!

The process? Brainstorm ways that you would like to make a contribution to your community and pick the one most compelling to you, regardless of whether or not it’s ‘realistic’. Then brainstorm 10 different ways you can try to make this happen and schedule them in your calendar!

Schedule Self-Care

Instead of creating a New Year’s Resolution, you might like to simply schedule self-care. Whether it’s a quarterly wellness retreat, a twice yearly holiday or a monthly massage, scheduling self-care before you burn yourself out will help you feel more centred and balanced. And this will make everything else that much easier!

The process? Brainstorm a list of all the self-care activities you keep telling yourself you ‘should’ do, decide how often you’d like to do them and book them in your calendar! You deserve to look after yourself, it’s time for self-care to stop being the last thing on your to-do list.

Make A Bucket List

Probably the funnest of the alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions is creating a bucket list for the new year. This is a list of all the experiences, big and small, that you want to create for yourself next year.

The process? Brainstorm a list of everything you want to do in the new year. Also add the things you’ve been telling other people you want to do (so you finally stop talking about them and actually make them happen) and anything that you’ve seen others do that you think you might like to do too. Once you’ve got the list you’ve brainstormed, choose the number of items you want on your bucket list. You might like to do 6 or 12 or 26 or 52 – it’s up to you! Once you have the number, create your bucket list and then begin to schedule things in your calendar (or at least schedule times that you will review your bucket list and make plans). If you need some inspiration, you can find a great list of bucket list ideas here.

So there you have it – 10 alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions. I hope you’ve found this post helpful! Let me know how you’re going to prepare for the new year in the comments and if you still need to get organised for the new year, make sure you read this post on how to do it!

Sam xx

Need help setting goals? Here are the best alternatives to new year's resolutions to help you set your new year's goals! A must-read for planners and millennials!

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