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Taking the Pain Out of New Year’s Resolutions

At some time in our lives, we’ve probably all heard someone (possibly ourselves) say something like, “My New Year’s Resolution this year is to not have a New Year’s Resolution!” Perhaps this is said because these resolutions are so hard to keep. Or perhaps we are committing ourselves to do something that we don’t really want to do, but feel that we ought to do.

New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be grueling, though. Perhaps all that is needed is a bit of attitude adjustment, or a bit more awareness of the world around us and the people in it, including ourselves. For those of us who cringe at the thought of rules and restrictions, New Year’s Resolutions are one of those “whatever” phenomena. Too often, they are about convincing ourselves that we will finally do what we think we must do, and know we are not really interested in.

It actually pays to look deeper. When your New Year’s Resolutions are bigger, bolder and less detailed with regards to action steps, they can provide both direction and freedom. There are no rules, no must-do’s. Instead of adding more to-do’s to our life, perhaps we can transform what is already there by just paying attention to the many opportunities that are before us every day.

Here is a list of 40 things that you can pick from as the year goes on.
Read for pleasure.
Walk a little slower and take in your surroundings.
Smile to at least one person every day.
Opt for the stairs a few times every week.
Cook dinner more often.
Stop pressing “snooze.”
Get out of your comfort zone and explore more.
Make a meal for a friend or neighbor when they’re sick or stuck at home.
Keep teaching your kids to have gratitude, and lead by example.
Live more minimally.
Step up your morning game. Wake up early enough to have a leisurely breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee.
Say “no” sometimes.
Finally donate unworn clothing to people who could use it.
Spend one-on-one quality time with your friends every single week.
Talk to people on the phone more often.
Be less argumentative.
Strive to stand up for yourself more often.
Meditate for five minutes every day.
Stop beating yourself up over mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
Write more letters. Bring back snail mail.
Write down one thing you are thankful for every single day.
Organize all of your “junk drawers.”
Take art classes.
Get an extra hour of sleep every night.
Gather up family recipes and make a book.
Eat fresh fruit once a day.
Start a book club.
Bake from scratch more often.
Find a way to give back to your community.
Make a new friend.
Write a short story.
Stop gossiping.
Get up and walk around more.
Complain less.
Indulge in something for yourself once a month.
Call instead of text.
Allow yourself five minutes to dwell on a mistake then move on.
Be diligent about drinking water every day.
Develop a monthly budget, and stick to it.
Drink more hot chocolate.

And here are 4 more favorites:
Spend More Time In Nature.
Humans were not made to be cooped up inside all day. Spending time in nature makes you happier, it boosts your immune system, and it even makes you more creative. Resolve that next year you’ll be spending more time outside (and just opening the windows more often doesn’t count).

Learn Something New Each Day.
Set the resolution to learn something new every day in order to have a better understanding of the world and how it works. Fortunately, the internet makes it incredibly easy to learn new things.

Forgive.
Life is too short to hold a grudge. Before you say that this contradicts “Do Something Unexpected”, note that that exercise is for you to better your life, not to stick it to their faces. At the end of the day, if they can’t find anything about your life to criticize, you have won, and now have better control of your life. When the lesson has been learned, forgive and move on.

Show Gratitude.
We need to realize that life doesn’t owe us anything. And yet, there is kindness in the world, and it can come from the strangest of places, even though we are told not to expect them. The important thing is that when you are in the presence of an act of kindness, participate, extend it or if you are on the receiving end, appreciate it.