Wisdom//

The Secret to Making Resolutions You Actually Need

Do it better this year.

Goja1/Getty Images
Goja1/Getty Images

It’s that time of year again! Time to focus on the New Year, the new you—and on never messing up a workout plan ever again, right? Well, not really.

First of all, January 1 is an arbitrary date to begin something. You can start over on anything in your life, any time, always. But New Year’s Eve is still a good opportunity to think about what you might like to allow into your life—while inspired by holiday cheer and New Year momentum all around you.

When making resolutions, we might ask ourselves deep questions like, “What do I want out of the New Year? Who do I want to be? What do I most want to shift about my habits?”

But more often than not, we go back to the loop of thinking about the two-to-three things we always want to change about ourselves: Save more money, make time for a passion project, shed some pounds, and create a healthy routine that actually lasts.

Increasingly, the more people I coach, the more I find people make no resolutions at all—because they fail. But I’ve noticed the problem is rarely that the resolution is too hard, it’s that it’s stale, it’s not inspired, or it’s vague. It’s same stuff, different year. We gotta shake it up!

Here’s a fun exercise I do as a coach to turn the resolution process on its head and get a fresh, tangible resolution idea out of someone. Ask yourself:

What’s your anti-resolution?

This is the worst resolution you could make because it would make you miserable?

Some answers that have come up:

“To leave the office even later and put my toddler to bed zero nights out of five!”

“Worry more about being single!”

“Take even fewer vacation days than I already do—and see even less of the world!”

“Gossip more and then feel even crappier afterward.”

This is where a lot of real answers come up! It’s a great clue as to what we might really need to shift in our lives—and often something bubbles up we haven’t thought of before.

Try this asking exercise with a friend—you’ll probably laugh when doing it (that’s OK) but stick with it! I did this with a close pal and realized I definitely do not need to:

  • Say yes to people/opportunities more (oh, the disease to please tests me still)!
  • Eat more candy at night (damn, I love it).
  • Sleep later than I already do.
  • Drink more wine.
  • Spend more money aimlessly online shopping—especially after 9 p.m. (and often after said wine).

What could these insights shape for me in terms of a specific resolution? Stop stocking wine or candy in the house? Decide on a fixed bedtime and relaxing bedtime routine? Delete my online shopping apps altogether? Commit to a firm “no” when an opportunity crops up… unless my intuition drives to me a full-body yes?

You can play around with this and really have some fun. The aha! moments will be in there—and they’ll guide you to what’s right for you. But if having any form of New Year’s resolution is not your thing (I get it), there’s something else you can try too.

You can have a word: a simple word that can guide your year. What do you want more of? Your word doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. What’s a great, centering word that just feels right?

Here are some suggestions:

Feeling stifled? Create.
Been a bit cynical? Joy.
Too hard on yourself? Ease.
Uptight? Breathe.
Playing it too safe? Risk.
Too skeptical? Believe.
A little serious? Laugh.
Ready for more? Dare.
Don’t feel safe and secure? Trust.
Stuff to get done? Act.

This year, my word was “experiment.” It really took the pressure off as I launched products in my business, attended fun and different live events, and even spent a month abroad. The word “experiment” spoke to me because it meant “try new stuff. Play! Enjoy—doesn’t matter what happens.” Losing the attachment to the outcome made me feel free and emboldened.

What’s your anti-resolution or word? Perhaps you can have both. It’s worth throwing everything at self-improvement. Why not? And remember: Your time is your most important asset. You don’t have to wait for January 1 to roll around—you can start today.

Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

Originally published on Greatist.

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