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Preventive Health

New Year’s Resolutions For People Who Despise New Year’s Resolutions

Starting BlockMaybe you don’t like the word “resolution”. Lots of people don’t. And, of course, we all know the failure rates of New Year’s resolutions. It’s a running joke, right?

But you can’t deny that January has a whole fresh-start vibe. Is there a way to take advantage of that without doing the old-school resolution thing?

I must admit, It’s a fascinating area for me–the intersect between knowing what we should do, what we want to do, and what we actually do. Essentially, we all know what the right thing is (and it does not look anything like a fried-egg-cheeseburger, for example), so what stops us from doing that thing? 

I think this is the spirit of Resolutions. They’re supposed to be a tool to help us keep our actions in line with our wishes. But Resolutions, in their traditional form, don’t work for everyone. 

If you’re loathe to just roll out the same old list (“lose 10 pounds”, “floss every day”), but still want to set yourself up for your Best Year Ever, try these alternative ideas:

Set Intentions instead of Resolutions.

I’m borrowing this from the yoga zeitgeist. The difference between intention and resolution may be a subtle one, but I think it’s an important one. And I think it’s more than just semantics. Resolution, for many of us, suggests a determination to do something that goes against your nature: cut something out of your life, restrict something, stop doing some bad habit. Intention, on the other hand, feels more positive. It suggests a guiding principle, a tool that helps you keep your compass pointing in the direction you wish.

Choose a word for the year.

This has the advantage of being very easy to remember, and can infuse your whole philosophy, and your decisions, all year long. For inspiration, check out what my friends Sharon DeVellis and Katja Wulfers chose as each of theirs. Or, if you find one word too limiting, why not try three? Like another friend of mine (and fab YA author) Eileen Cook.

Create a Monthly Resolution Subscription.

Setting monster goals is a classic setup for failure. Overwhelm sets in, roughly around the second week of January. So here’s an idea my sister told me about: set a year’s worth of resolutions up front. But you’re not attempting them all at the same time. It’s like this: in January, you work on walking daily, for example. And February is about getting together with friends once a week. March, you’re eating salad four times a week. Set it all up at the beginning of the year, create some kind of system to remind yourself of your plan at the beginning of each month. By the end of the year, you’ve tackled (and conquered) 12 positive changes in your life. The idea being, of course, that by the time each month is up, that new habit is well and truly entrenched (most of us have heard that it takes about 21 days for a new habit to solidify, yes?) 

So, after all that…you might be wondering: do I make resolutions? Yes, in fact I do. I have categories. They may or may not be color-coded. Judge if you will. Although, I’m not sure they’re exactly “resolutions” in the traditional sense. My list is a little looser than that–more like goals, plans, strategies, and dreams.

And I have another New Year’s habit. Besides making resolutions, I also like to review my year. I find it anchoring to look back and see what I accomplished in the year prior. I often forget stuff (big and small) by the time the year closes, and it’s nice to see it all laid out. It also helps me chart my path for the year to come. Curious what went down for me in 2012? You can read it here. (It was, arguably, my best year ever.)

So how about you? Do you make resolutions, or some variation? Or resolutely resist the whole idea?

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About Kim Foster

Dr. Kim Foster is a writer, family doctor, and mom.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions For People Who Despise New Year’s Resolutions

  1. I like the idea of monthly resolutions. They’re more measurable that way.

    Posted by Katja | January 5, 2013, 7:50 am
  2. Love this post, Kim. Have always been a fan of the intention setting vs. resolutions. Here’s to 2013 being even more fabulous than your incredible 2012. You’re always inspiring:)

    Posted by Annabel | January 7, 2013, 6:02 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Ready, Set, Go: Resolutions for 2013 (even if you hate New Year’s Resolutions) « kim foster - January 4, 2013

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Dr. Kim Foster, MD. (photo credit: Tamea Burd Photography)

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