Alternative ways to make and stick to new year's resolutions
Are you struggling to come up with new year’s resolutions for 2020?
It’s long established that making positive intentions for the year ahead can prove somewhat futile – with 80% of us breaking our resolutions by the second week of February.
Some of the most common new year’s resolutions include saving money, quitting smoking and losing weight, according to research by ghostwriting service StoryTerrace.
But with the vast majority of us breaking our traditional resolutions year after year, it seems we’re throwing out the rule book and coming up with new ways to make resolutions instead.
Here are some of the alternative techniques we’re using to set intentions for the year ahead:
Habits to leave behind
Over the weekend, Twitter user Vusi Thembekwayo asked his followers which habits they would be giving up for 2020 – and replies starting flooding in.
Looking back at the last 10 years of your life, what single habit or behavior do you commit to leaving behind in 2020?
— Vusi Thembekwayo (@VusiThembekwayo) December 29, 2019
His followers offered everything from oversharing and procrastination to investing to much in others as habits they would like to ditch in the new year.
Stop being an over sharer. Learn to keep things to myself
— Anele Naomi Mabaso (@mabaso_naomi) December 29, 2019
Investing in other's. it's time i invest in myself . I always wanted to see other's happy at my expense it's high time i make myself happy.
— busisiwe mazibuko (@busisiw14428304) December 29, 2019
— Khanya Thembane (@noksy_k) December 29, 2019
A yearly challenge
Made popular by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this technique entails making a challenge for yourself to be completed by the end of the year.
READ MORE: Why so many of us struggle to keep our New Year's resolutions
This could range from something small (like finally clearing out your garage) to something loftier – Zuckerberg’s own previous resolutions include learning Mandarin (in 2010, to help him communicate with now-wife Priscilla Chan) and 2017’s vow to visit every US state.
So for me, my goal this year is to run another marathon (at the end of the year) - I know it’s achievable. But I’ll make fun by turning it into a holiday. Win win.
— Jessica Noah Morgan (@jnoahmorgan) December 30, 2019
The bucket list approach
Another positive approach is to make a list of things you’d like to do by the end of the year.
With research showing that those who have something to look forward to, like a holiday, are significantly happier in the run-up than those who don’t, it’s easy to see the psychological benefit of this approach, which gives you things to anticipate over the year.
I’m not a fan of resolutions BUT every year Mitch and I make a list of all the things we’d love to do (stay in a spa hotel, see more live bands, have a BBQ on the beach, type things) and try to tick them all off. Any we don’t do get carried over for next year.
— Roz Ryan (@rozryan) December 30, 2019
The ‘one word’ resolution
The one word resolution is simple: decide on a single word that will inform your year ahead. While this might seem like a vague way of making a resolution, it’s also a much simpler one – allowing you to focus on one general principle rather than a list of easy-to-break rules for yourself.
I like the idea of 'one word resolutions' as well... For me, 'Focus' could be the goal for 2020 from a lot different angles. pic.twitter.com/v0Ye7rFRN0
— Bor de Altolaguirre (@dealtolaguirre) December 30, 2019
Making practical habits
For some, the limitation of new year’s resolutions is their lack of specificity.
So another way around this is to follow practical habits that help you achieve a vaguer aim of work success, exercise, changing your diet – whatever it might be.
READ MORE: NHS doctor warns against new year crash diets
Exercising more might turn into “exercise twice a week”, while succeeding more at work could involve scheduling a regular one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss your goals moving forward.
I ignore the resolution & focus on the habits that will help me reach it.
Eat healthier became > “cook at least 2 new recipes per week, with 1 using a new ingredient”. Kept it fresh, exciting & attainable.
A year / 160 recipes later & it became a habit & changed my life!
— Jamie Nathan (@JNathan) December 30, 2019
If making new year’s resolutions has never been helpful to you, it might be better to simply come up with small, easily-achievable intentions you know you’ll achieve.
Alexandra Keates, a 27-year-old PR manager in London, told Yahoo UK: “I’ve always struggled with the pressure of new year’s resolutions. So this year I basically embraced small things that were achievable but also fun.
“So last year it was wear more lipstick, go somewhere in the UK you’ve never been before, cook with five new ingredients and this year I’m doing read more non-fiction, use wooden toothbrushes and do a couple of ballet-based exercise classes.”
Breaking up your ambitions into smaller, concrete mini-goals is already a tried-and-tested formula when it comes to weight loss, with experts at the University of Alabama saying the secret to making a sustainable lifestyle overhaul is to take it one step at a time.
Taking it month by month
If committing to a year-long resolution seems too daunting, why not try setting monthly goals instead?
In a recent article for Forbes, career change expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine recommended this approach.
“Considering targeting monthly goals that can be tackled throughout the year,” she suggested. “This way, every month offers a fresh start, and you can build on your newfound good habits over time.”
Her ideas for month-long goals included “taking lunch breaks” and “meeting new people”.