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Five Unique Alternatives to Making New Year’s Resolutions [Revisited]

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Making promises at the start of the year to improve ourselves has a long and colorful history dating back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. They were typically reaffirming loyalty to the reigning king or promising to pay debts or return borrowed items.

In spite of the fact that most of us are unable to keep our resolutions, we can’t seem to resist making them when a new year holds the promise of a new start. Perhaps taking a different approach will help us be more successful. Here are five unique alternatives to making New Year’s resolutions.


Do One Big Thing Each Day

Making to-do lists, completing planners, and setting priorties aren’t new, but Nick Burka a developer based in Montréal, Canada made this app for himself that simplifies this process. It’s free. Since I tend to spread myself too thin trying to do too much in a day, this approach appealed to me. You can do other smaller things, of course, but your main daily goal is just one thing. If you insist on themes and stickers, you can upgrade to a paid version.  What kind of developer would he be if he didn’t give you that option?

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Create a Want List

Jennifer Mattern says ask yourself what you really want for your life, what will make you happy. Then write it all down. Avoid setting deadlines or creating SMART GOALS that may begin to feel like putting pressure on yourself. The things on your want list are not time-sensitive. Some may take more than a day or a year to achieve.  You can do tiny things to move toward your wants, but you also can change your mind when you discover that you don’t REALLY want an item anymore.

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Take a Trip of a Lifetime

Suzy Strutner, Associate Lifestyle Editor, The Huffington Post lists 12 types of trips you should take in your lifetime. Forget about setting loads of resolutions, and take one amazing trip instead. As much as I travel, I discovered I’ve only taken four of the types she recommends. How about you? Check out her list and share in Speak Your Mind which of these you’ve taken.

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Set an Intention with One Word

Zoe Saldana and her sisters explain in the video below


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Make a Commitment to Someone Other Than Yourself


Who says resolutions have to be about fixing what you see as wrong with yourself or going after achievements. Instead, how about donating time to a cause you care about. Or visiting a friend or relative who can no longer get around as they once did. Or supporting a fellow author or entrepreneur at  book signing or other event. These commitments do not have to be long-term or forced. Last year I committed to spend the day with an 80 year old friend once each month of the summer. I also attended book signings to support fellow authors, helped set up an auction for one of my favorite charities, and volunteered as a mentor at my alma mater.

Give your presence. It means a lot.

[This article was originally published in 2017, but since the ideas in it are still worth doing, I’m sharing it again.]


Tell us in Speak Your Mind which idea resonates with you or suggest another alternative to making New Year’s resolutions.



  1. Nice job of reminding us we have CHOICES on how to consider alternatives to the “New Year’s Resolution” pressures–many great ideas here. Thanks for collecting and disseminating them!

  2. These are wonderful alternatives to traditional New Years’ resolutions. I long ago gave up on making resolutions because of my dismal success rate! The alternatives you mention here are so much more doable. I especially like the idea of setting a one sword intention for the year and I will definitely do that.

    Thanh you for sharing this timely reminder!

  3. Love these options. It bothers me to see people make resolutions and then break them. Not keeping promises they make to themselves diminishes self trust and self esteem. It’s good to use the new year as a reset point, but we can be softer with ourselves in the process. I have my clients use the words intentions instead of resolutions. Intentions are more flowing and open in case something better shows up along the way.

    • Hi Linda, I love that you identify resetting our lives using a softer approach. It’s how we’re more likely to attract the “how” and create our unique path.

  4. Flora, I’m always in awe of how much savvy advice I constantly get from you. This was an excellent blog filled with great ideas and information. I agree that resolutions in the general sense often become more of a negative than a positive, so I gave that up some time ago. However, I have made one positive, strong intention this year, and that is to recover my once stellar self-discipline. Having self-discipline gives me total freedom from anxiety, and disappointment in all areas of my life. I’m not talking about draconian discipline, I’m talking about discipline that is generated from desire. When we really desire something discipline just shows up. Desire always trumps discipline in all areas of our lives. Here’s to a very Happy New Year to you and your readers.

    • Hi Fawn, What a fantastic idea. Thanks for the reminder that discipline follows desire. That must be why I make time to share advice with my fellow authors and entrepreneurs.

  5. I so appreciate these well-timed alternatives to New Year’s resolutions and the reminder that we have choices.

    I especially embrace the idea of setting an intention instead of a resolution for the New Year. To me, the word intention leaves room to make a different choice and is more fluid while the word resolution seems so final and concrete.

    Thanks, Flora, for sharing these practical alternatives to making New Year’s resolutions.

    • Gladys, you’re so right that setting an intention is so much better than a resolution. I chose the word SOAR for my intention this year during a vision board workshop.

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