If you’re thinking about doing a New Year’s resolution this year, you undoubtedly know the unfortunate truth: only 9% of people succeed with their resolutions. In fact, a hardy 43% give up on their resolutions by February 1st.
But if you’re hoping to make some positive changes as we move into 2024, there are so many ways that you can do this without setting a resolution. Below, I’m going to discuss six different alternatives to New Year’s resolutions that will still give you all the benefits without the stress and potential disappointment of a traditional resolution.
Is It Okay to Not Have a New Year’s Resolution?
If you don’t like New Year’s resolutions, you’re not the only one. More and more people are choosing not to set resolutions.
You might feel pressure, perhaps by society at large, by your friends and family, or even a past version of yourself to set a resolution. But the truth is, nobody cares but you! (And if they do, you might want to consider some stronger boundaries.)
Set one if you want to! But if you feel it’s more pressure and stress than it’s worth, let that go!
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If you’ve read this far and you’ve made the decision that a New Year’s resolution just isn’t for you, then keep reading. Because there are plenty of other options that are less stressful and might align more to your lifestyle and values than a stuff resolution.
Here are six alternatives to New Year’s resolutions!
1. New Year’s Aspiration
To aspire literally means to breathe. But it can also mean a hope or intention of achieving something.
Simply, an aspiration is a desire to become something or embody a trait more. You can aspire to be kinder, or aspire to be more understanding.
I learned about setting a New Year’s aspiration when I took a New Year’s online meditation retreat with Plum Village two years ago. Because you hold an aspiration in a gentler manner than you would pursue a New Year’s resolution, it may feel less stressful and more fulfilling.
You can still choose to read books, set reminders, put a phone screen, or anything else that reminds you of your aspiration throughout the year.
Here are some possible New Year’s aspirations:
- To become less judgmental.
- To have more gratitude in your life.
- To spend less money.
- To be a better listener.
- To be more understanding to your family members.
But your aspiration can be anything you want. The sky is the limit.
2. Word of the Year
A word of the year is a trend that has been on the upswing for a few years now. You select a word that you want to encompass and embody you whole year.
For example, if you want to get rich, your word of the year might be “money.” Or if you want to feel powerful and self-confident in your interactions with others, your word might be “radiant” or “power.”
When you do this, print the word out and put it on your mirror, write about it in your journal, put it as the lock screen on your phone, or do any other way you can think of to remind yourself about your one word.
Here are a few powerful words you might choose:
You get the picture. Choose something that you’d like to focus on or want more of in your life. There are 250 words to choose from over at this post.
3. Word of the Month
Another alternative to a New Year’s resolution is a word of the month, because, let’s be honest… sometimes life gets in the way and suddenly your word of the year isn’t as relevant as it once was.
In this case, consider choosing a new word to focus on at the beginning of each month.
Here are a few more words from the other end of the alphabet you might like!
Make sure you check out the whole list of 350+ words if you’re interested in this one!
4. Reflecting on Last Year
Sometimes it’s enough to just think about what worked and what didn’t in the previous year. In this case, use some reflection questions to ask yourself about last year.
Here are a few good questions to ask:
- What were my biggest accomplishments this year?
- What did I learn about myself, and in what ways did I develop new self-awareness this year?
- Who were the most important people in my life this year?
- Was I satisfied with my career or professional life this year? Did it align with my values and desires for my life?
For this, I personally like using the Level 10 Life system, which includes 10 sections of our lives that we can assess and evaluate, including:
- Personal Development
- Family & Friends
- Giving & Contributing
- Health & Fitness
- Career / Business
- Recreation / Fun
- Physical Environment
- Faith / Spirituality
If you’re interested in the Level 10 Life worksheet, you can use it to determine how full or satisfying each part of your life is. It’s free, you don’t even need to surrender your email address! Just download it below!
5. New Year’s Journal
Another excellent alternative to a New Year’s resolution is doing a New Year’s journal. Similar to the reflection questions above, you take a journal and only get it out for New Year’s. In this journal, you can reflect on the previous year, write down intentions, gratitude, aspirations, your word of the year… anything that you’d like to carry with you into next year.
This alternative is excellent for tracking your progress over the year, because it allows you to look back on previous year’s entries.
Here are a couple prompts you might be interested in when trying a New Year’s journal:
- What are your goals and intentions for the next year? Why are these important to you?
- What areas of life would you like to focus on next year?
Make sure you check out all 20 journal prompts for New Year’s at this post here.
6. New Year’s Tarot Reading
This might be a bit of a different alternative, but you might consider trying a tarot reading for the New Year. I’ve done one every year for the last two years.
The nice thing about a tarot reading is just how versatile it is. If you believe that it might predict your future, then that’s great. If you don’t believe in that kind of thing, then the tarot cards you pull for each month can serve as prompts for reflection and a kind of guide.
When I do a New Year’s tarot reading, I like drawing 1 card for each month of the year. This helps me learn about the focus each month will have and gives me a chance to prepare. For example, if I get the nine of cups for May, I know that I can plan to be riding high that month! But if I get the eight of swords for August, I may feel trapped in a prison of my own making.
Sure, this method requires you to have a little bit of knowledge of the tarot and at least 1 deck, but you can always pay someone else to do a reading for you if you’re not sure about trying it yourself.
If nothing else, do this method at your New Year’s party with other people, and plan on having a ton of fun!
Here are my favorite tarot and oracle decks for a New Year’s reading:
And make sure you read the full post about a New Year’s tarot reading.
These alternatives to New Year’s resolutions are all about easing the pressure of a standard New Year’s resolution. They give you the versatility and freedom to be flexible, reflect on the previous year, and do some serious planning for the future.
I hope these 6 alternatives were helpful for you and that you have an excellent New Year!
Which are you choosing this year? Traditional resolution? Word of the year?
Let me know in the comments below! I love to hear from you!
Make sure you check out the Wild Simple Joy Resource Page for New Year’s Resolutions before you leave!