As I confessed in my last post, I’ve had New Years on the brain lately. Figuring out your own personal definition of good is a crucial starting point, but let’s face it – tradition or not, resolutions are a pretty terrible way to effect real change. Happily, there are some powerful and far more user-friendly alternatives you embrace this year.
Here are my top five favorite alternatives to writing a New Year’s Resolution:
1. Set Simple Rules – this one comes from the book of the same name, and is a personal favorite.
How It Works: Based on your unique needs, priorities, and circumstances, you craft up to six very simple, very specific rules to live by.
Why It’s Awesome: Simple Rules free you from decision fatigue and keep your choices aligned with your core goals and principles. Plus, unlike resolutions, Simple Rules can’t be “broken” or “blown”; if something goes wrong, it’s just a sign that you need to refine or revise your rule (which you keep doing until it’s perfected). Instead of crashing and burning, you “fail forward.”
Example: One of my Simple Rules is to keep backup meals in the freezer and/or the components of a few quick, easy and healthy meals in the cabinet at all times. This ensures that even if everything else goes off the rails unexpectedly, I’ll still be able to quickly put together healthy, satisfying meals – a huge comfort and key first step towards regaining sanity. (What little sanity I generally have, anyway…)
2. Write a Manifesto
How It Works: According to LiveBoldandBloom, a manifesto is where you write down “a declaration of your life principles. It’s what makes you tick—what is important to you…”
(Get instructions on how to write a manifesto here.)
Why It’s Awesome: Manifestos remind me of the saying that “a friend is someone who knows your heart song, and can sing it back to you when you forget.” Manifestos tell you who you are, not what to do. They bring you back to center and help you focus on what’s truly important when you start to feel distracted or confused. (They’re also the perfect solution for “rebels” who hate to follow any rules ever.)
3. Choose One Word
How It Works: This one is ultra-simple: choose one single word (or a very short phrase) to be your theme and inspiration for the year.
Why It’s Awesome: There’s nothing to fail and no stress. With only one focus on for a whole year, you can expect significant new growth, understanding or depth in that area. The possibilities and applications are endless!
Example: Go to MyOneWord for inspiration, examples of other people’s words, and to connect with others who have chosen the same word as you!
4. Play With Short Term Challenges
How It Works: Create or sign up for a short term challenge related to something important to you. Consider getting a friend to sign up to do it with you! Choose one challenge for the year, one a month, or whatever feels feasible to you, based on your personal good.
Why It’s Awesome: Well defined, short-term challenges can be the easiest to get other people to do with you, and play to the strengths of people with competitive personalities. Conquering a short-term challenge builds momentum and self-confidence; if you fail, you’ve got plenty of time to re-group and try again!
Example: Complete a Whole 30. Sign up for a Warrior Dash (or Tough Mudder!). Complete a no-spend month. Try five totally new things this year, or challenge yourself to throw out 100 things. The options are as limitless as your imagination – just make them meaningful!
5. Try Experiments
How It Works: Pick a habit, action, experience, style or system that seems like it might be useful or helpful in pursuing your good, and give it a try for a set period of time. Keep track of what happens, and reflect on the experience afterward.
Why It’s Awesome: Experiments are amazing for so many reasons, guys! They give you a chance explore something new without pressure or commitment. You can’t fail; everything you try and decide isn’t for you just gives you new information you can use to get closer to finding what is right for you! It’s a great choice for people who are naturally curious, who like making lists/ spreadsheets, who love novelty, or who feel like they don’t even know where or how to start pursuing their own personal good.
Example: Make a capsule wardrobe (or daily uniform) out of clothing you already own, and try living with only those clothes for a month. Take an introductory class on cake decorating, sewing, martial arts, or ballroom dancing; try a month of yes and a month of no. See what happens, and take notes! Apply what you learn to make your life better.
Whew! This got long! But now you know: if you want to build your own “good”, you have lots of tools beyond New Years Resolutions to help you get started in 2016!
Did any of these options resonate with you? I’d love to hear which you’re interested in trying, or if you there are other alternatives you think should have made this list!