5 Alternatives to Popular New Year’s Resolutions

It has been scientifically proven that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work, and when I say scientifically proven I mean an episode of Oprah. The thing about making resolutions with nothing but a start date and unrealistic expectations, is we tend to bite off more than we can chew — especially when that bite contains the very sugar and carbs we just vowed to stop eating. We backslide and make mistakes and then too quickly give up the whole darn notion, feeling we blew our chance. We set ourselves up for failure. I don’t want my kids to learn this all or nothing behavior. I believe all of those things in our life that provide us the chance to be personally disappointed in ourselves can be altered by tweaking just one small thing. I present to you 5 popular New Year’s resolutions, and then the alternative thing requiring only one little adjustment. When we shift a habit even the smallest bit, it produces centrifugal results that grow larger when we’re not even noticing. Surely this is the way to more lasting, satisfying change. Leave me a comment about what you hope to change, and we can keep track of each other! Personally I’m going to have a go at all five of these. Best of luck in 2014!

  • Shall we? 1 of 6
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  • Lose weight huh? 2 of 6
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    Instead, shift one small thing about your eating habits. Consider deciding to eat only when seated at the dining room table. What kind of difference would we see in ourselves if snacking in front of the TV was no longer a habit. Or at our desks. Or everywhere. Or maybe decide to learn how to cook something new, and make that thing a couple of times a week because it's so darn healthy. Maybe it's a soup, or a smoothie, or a piece of poached fish. When we change one thing, other positive things follow.

  • Exercise gah 3 of 6
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    I always think it's funny when people crowd into a sporting good store at the beginning of a new year because they are going to become brand new people, and the best route to that is dropping serious coin on accoutrement. Gym membership numbers also swell. We decide to take a spin class or lift weights or run laps around the track. I say change one thing. Why not decide to walk to work, or take the stairs every time you could be taking an escalator? Maybe you decide to walk the dog twice a day, or carry the groceries home instead of driving to the local market. When we change one thing, other positive things follow.

  • Get even busier blah 4 of 6
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    I would love to spend more time with my friends and family. I love them! That's why they are my friends and my family! But everyone is busy, and making a proclamation about carving more togetherness time isn't going to change that. And then we're back to frustrated. But not if you change just one thing. Why not get the mutual calendars out and mark off just one day every single month, but do it for the entire year so you can see proof of everyone's commitment. This can be for potluck dinner or game night or a shared museum or movie day. Or maybe decide to call someone every morning on the way to work. Commutes are great for getting caught up. It doesn't take much. While we're at it, make a Skype date. It's easier to follow through with our people when not demanding that shared time look like it used to look. When we change one thing, other positive things follow.

  • finish oyvey 5 of 6
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    I can't tell you the number of times a friend has told me the goal of the New Year was to finish some big thing as yet unfinished. And of course when I say friend I'm talking about me. "Finish writing a book," is a favorite, but could be substituted with screenplay, book proposal, or something really hard like thank you cards. It's not just the writing profession that enables abandoned projects -- there are many unresolved projects in all of life's arenas, for instance house projects, technology projects, and research projects. Our brains just don't know what to do when we drop these big responsibilities at our own feet. Or, maybe we know how to go about it at first, but we quickly become overwhelmed just like we were, weirdly enough, the calendar year that preceded this magical new get every project done year. Why not just decide to tackle one little part of the looming project? Why not change just one smaller thing? Maybe decide to set the alarm one hour earlier every day. And dedicate this hour to your project. Why not assign more manageable deadlines. Such as write one page a day. One paragraph a day. Or how about deciding to tackle only one wall in your house at a time, instead of a whole flustered design overhaul. When we change one thing, other positive things follow.

  • Technology off yeah right 6 of 6
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    Look, I agree. I once read this fascinating study about the alienation of technology, which means it was a TV commercial my mom described to me. In it, there are two people walking purposefully toward their inevitable crossed paths, while the voiceover tells of these two soulmates who are about to meet and fulfill in each other everything left wanting and -- oh no -- they both have their noses tucked into their cell phones and they miss each other completely. They walk right on by. I agree we need to be more in our lives and not posting about our lives -- but when we resolve to change something that is also incredibly useful and addictive, it's a set up for failure. Just change one thing. Maybe decide to leave your phone in your purse or back pocket when walking down streets. Or schedule an hour a night when everything technology related gets shut down, and then stand by that hour. Or instead of checking Facebook for the tenth time in a day, spend five minutes sitting on your front step and making small talk with everyone that passes by. In whatever way you enact this small change, make sure you can give this new habit a recurring role in your daily routine or it can't rightly be called a new routine. When we change one thing, other positive things follow.

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