3 Gentle Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

3 Gentle Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

It's a New Year and whether you are someone who embraces resolutions or rejects them, you cannot deny they are part of our collective unconscious.

New Year's resolutions typically focus on self-improvement, and can include anything from weight loss, to career advancement, to spiritual goals (such as daily meditation or a gratitude journal) The tricky part, however, is that sometimes these well intentioned goals come from a place of self-criticism, rather than self-acceptance. Inevitably, our inner disciplinarian grows weary and in a month or so we loosen our grip, relax into old habits, and curse ourselves for "failing".

But what if what we really need sometimes is to binge watch stand-up comedy (instead of meditate), or eat a cookie and accept ourselves (rather than diet like a maniac)? What if our inner self is craving us to lighten up and cut back on the to-do list, rather than overwhelm it with even more tasks?

Here are 3 gentle alternatives to conventional resolutions.

LET YOUR UNCONSCIOUS DECIDE
Instead of coming up with goals from your logical, super-ego mind, why not tap into your spontaneous ID and discover what your soul is truly craving? Try this simple exercise. Without overthinking, quickly finish these sentences:

Learn how to...
Start....
Stop....
Build a...
Choose...
Dream of...
Discover...
Be more...
Grow into...
Release....
Embody....
Take a trip to...
Catapult towards...
Try....
Live like....

This exercise will hopefully conjure up broad longings, such as "Try to laugh more" or "Discover love". Throughout the year, you can refer back to this list, remembering to make choices that connect you with these deeply held yearnings.

LIST YOUR FRIENDS
Research shows that social connections lead to a greater sense of happiness than self-improvement goals.

So why not make a list of 5-10 friends you want to connect with more often and brainstorm how to do this. Monthly potlucks? Frequent lunch dates? Or maybe it's as simple as picking up the phone more often? Focus on IRL (in real life) connections and leave social media out of this one.

SET A GOAL OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF
There are countless studies that show that giving to others increases your own sense of well-being.

Try to think up a fun way of giving back. Maybe you want to join the pay-it-forward movement and commit spontaneous acts of kindness. Or perhaps you want to volunteer at an animal shelter. Or, you could simply commit to being a better friend to someone you know, who is going through a tough time. People who give back regularly report improved feelings of empowerment, belonging, and inner peace.

However, if you are a parent, honestly, you are already doing enough as you already give of yourself, so much of the time. But if your children are older perhaps you can volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen, or hospital. Or maybe you can make a specific goal that benefits your child such as, "Teach my daughter to ride a bike", or "Connect with my son every day in meaningful conversation". If you are parenting young children, just skip this section as you are exhausted and spent enough alraedy, and what you really need are more massages, romantic attention, take out dinners and sleep.

I would like to offer that I am not against weight loss goals or daily gratitude journals as sometimes these can truly jump-start a new habit! I am simply hoping to provide an alternative approach, and to remind us that sometimes all we really need is a little more self-love. If that weight loss goal comes blanketed in a pillow of self-compassion, maybe it will be more slowly attained, but more easily maintained.

I hope these ideas inspire you to take on a more gentle approach to goal setting. Happy New Year to all!

Daisy's Story, from Suddenly Pregnant to Suddenly Gay: "Be Who You Are Unapologetically"

Daisy's Story, from Suddenly Pregnant to Suddenly Gay: "Be Who You Are Unapologetically"

From blended family to out as a lesbian: "It is definitely worth coming out, being authentic, and living your life honestly."

From blended family to out as a lesbian: "It is definitely worth coming out, being authentic, and living your life honestly."