Research shows that about half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% of people actually achieve them. While many of us like the idea of setting goals at the beginning of the year, it’s often hard to follow through on these goals and we don’t like to set ourselves up for failure.
So what can us non-resolution-makers do instead? Here are five alternatives.
- Make a memories list
- Write yourself a letter
- Practice gratitude
- Commit to someone other than yourself
- Imagine the Best of 2017
Write a list of your favorite memories and accomplishments from 2016; include the challenges you faced with grace and courage. Research has shown that reminiscing about the past can boost future happiness and remembering your strengths increases your perseverance and determination in the future.
Write a letter from your future self to your current self; date it 1/1/18. Imagine looking back at 2017 and having achieved your most important goals of that year. Thank your current self for everything you did to accomplish your goals, and be specific. Alternatively, give your present self some compassionate advice. Studies have shown that connecting with your future self in this way can help you make changes and achieve your goals.
The new year is an ideal time to think about what you want to change in your life, but it’s also a good time to think about what you’re thankful for now. So, make a list of everything you are grateful for. This can give you a clearer idea of what you value most and what you want going forward.
When we make New Year’s resolutions, we usually focus on ourselves and what we want for our own lives. A different (and often more fulfilling) approach is to focus outward. This year, consider volunteering or donating to a cause that you care about.
Make a list of five things—big or small—that you want to do in 2017. Research has shown that one of the best predictors for emotional health is being able to anticipate and enjoy future pleasures.