It’s that time of year again where our inboxes, televisions, conversations, and social media feeds are filling up with ideas for New Year’s resolutions and all the things we supposedly need to change about our lives to be happier and healthier. They always sound great and inspiring, but in reality, New Year’s resolutions are rarely an effective strategy for lasting change. These resolutions much more often end in shame, guilt, and giving up before March. New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone and thankfully, they’re not your only option. 

So, if you’ve been thinking about throwing out New Year’s rResolutions this year, this is the post you’ve been waiting for! We think you deserve to start 2022 feeling renewed instead of restricted and focused on reflection, expansion, and celebration instead of elimination. Here are a few resolution alternatives you can pick up to start your new year off with more gratitude, joy, mindfulness, excitement, and growth. 

Frame Your Year with Quarterly Focus Areas

Committing to something for an entire year is incredibly daunting and it’s a huge reason why resolutions fail. Instead of making such a long-term commitment, think about a few different areas of your life you’d like to grow in and choose a themed mindset or goal for each quarter. This way you only have to commit to three months at a time. And if specific, rigid goals aren’t your thing, this is a great opportunity to choose themes that are more broad-like. Consider goals surrounding balance, boundaries, creativity, communication, health, nature, or spirituality. Let yourself be inspired to come up with a couple action items in each category and plan from there. 

Create a List of Things to Look Forward to in the New Year

Instead of focusing on all the things in your life you wish were different or trying to keep up with all the trends you “should” be investing your time in, spend some time making a list of things you’re hopeful about, excited to do, or grateful for! People are often happier in anticipation of an event than in remembering the actual experience. So embrace the anticipation and create a deeper happiness this year! 

Reflect with Generosity 

​​Resolutions can be helpful to identify areas of our lives that we’d like to improve, but we rarely reflect deeply about the root issues that are making us unhappy or unfulfilled. So yes, take time this January to reflect on the things in your life that you’d like to change, but embrace change from a place of confidence in your intrinsic worth and not from a place of shame that tells you that you have to change to be valuable. Be gentle and generous with yourself about the things that have shaped you and held you back at times. It’s important to stay curious and explore these things without judgment. This will help you identify your barriers and come up with rational, thoughtful solutions. 

Value Maintenance and Stability 

There is value in stability instead of constant change and self-improvement, so don’t be afraid to make maintenance a goal! We spend so much time focused on what comes next that we sometimes forget to appreciate how far we’ve come to get exactly where we are right now. Intentionally pause regularly this year to reflect and reward yourself for everything you’ve accomplished and the milestones in your life that show you how much you’ve grown. You are already an inspiration just the way you are and it is this mindset of empowerment that helps to fuel our continued growth. 

If you do want to pursue real, lasting change in a specific area, here are some non-resolution action steps to consider.

  • Start your new year at a time that works for you. Don’t base your change on a calendar date, but after a time of reflection, research, and preparation to build an environment that supports lasting change. 
  • Avoid shoulds and make your goals fun! Base your goals off of authentic desires and not off of cultural trends or social pressures. Choose something that you know you want to accomplish or implement. If you know you hate the gym, but want to exercise more, research some fitness activities that you would actually enjoy in environments that make you feel positive, empowered, and excited to participate. 
  • Make SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Focus on small, intentional steps instead of lofty, non-specific resolutions. Differentiate between long-term goals and the short-term daily and weekly action items that help you reach them.
  • Instead of resenting your lack of willpower, be curious about what realistic obstacles are getting in the way of your positivity, determination, and discipline. 
  • Make your goals safe to screw up. We all screw up! Give yourself room to stumble if there’s a week or two that you can’t dedicate time to your goals. This kind of flexibility helps you focus on keeping yourself going instead of rigid rules that make you want to bail at the first sign of failure.  

We get it. Change is hard so we hope you begin this new year with zero pressure to do anything other than remain open to the possibility of renewal and your potential. We’re here to be a resource for you as you reflect on yourself, explore your potential, and prepare for change. If you are ready to schedule an appointment and live in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas, we can help. Contact us to get started. We offer virtual and in-person sessions. Happy New Year from all of us at In Session Psych! 

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