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10 Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

alternatives to New Year's resolutions

New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everybody.

Maybe you feel like you want to do something for the New Year, but you don’t really want to set resolutions. Fortunately, New Year’s resolutions aren’t your only option. As with almost everything else in life, you have alternatives.

Below you’ll find 10 alternatives to New Year’s resolutions.

10 Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

If you don’t feel like making New Year’s resolutions this year, here’s what to do instead:

1. Create a Bucket List For the New Year. Back in May–which is my birth month–I wrote a post on creating a bucket list each year for your birthday filled with all the things you want to be, do, and experience before turning a year older. In much the same way, for the new year you can create a bucket list for the year. Here are some ideas:

  • Attend the Rio 2016 Olympics
  • Try Ceviche
  • Finish a Book In One Sitting
  • Get a Professional Photo Shoot Done
  • Vote in a Presidential Election

Need more ideas? Here are 10,000 bucket list ideas for you to pick and choose from.

2. Follow a Monthly 30-Day Challenge. Come up with a list of twelve 30-day challenges, and complete one for each month of the year. What’s a 30-day challenge? A 30-day challenge consists of setting a small goal that can be achieved in 30 days, along with the specific action that you’ll be taking each day to achieve the goal.

For example, for January you could create a 30-day decluttering challenge. What action will you be taking each and every day in January in order to declutter? You could do the following: Every day during the month of January, choose five items to donate, throw out, sell, or give away.

That way, by the end of January you’ll have decluttered 155 items. Not bad. Set another 30-day challenge for February, another one for March, and so on. By the end of the year you’ll have achieved 12 small goals.

For 30-day challenge ideas, head on over to my post, Thirty 30-Day Challenges to Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life.

3. Take a Yearly Challenge. Every year Mark Zuckerberg–the founder of Facebook–gives himself a personal challenge for the year. One year his challenge was to learn Mandarin. Another year he set the challenge of not eating any meat he hadn’t killed himself.

This year he wants to build a robot. Here’s Zuckerberg’s announcement:

“My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.”

Follow in Zuckerberg’s footsteps and set a personal challenge for yourself this year. One idea is to give yourself a reading challenge. Another idea is to challenge yourself to save $1000–or the amount of your choice–by the end of the year. Or, you could try to build your own robot. 🙂

4. Create a List of Things to Look Forward To. What are you looking forward to this year? Maybe you have a great vacation planned, or a friend is getting married, or there’s a writing workshop that you’re really looking forward to attending.

You can also include small things, such as the following:

  • A novel that’s coming out this year by your favorite author.
  • An exhibit that will be on view at a nearby museum.
  • A new restaurant that’s opening downtown.
  • The new season of your favorite TV show.
  • A new technological gadget that will be coming out this year.

Creating a list of things that you’re looking forward to will make you hopeful for the new year.

5. Decide What to Track or Measure. This year, come up with a list of things that you’re going to track or measure. Here are some examples:

  • I will keep a time log.
  • I will keep a food log.
  • I will keep track of how I spend my money.
  • I will keep track of my weight.

You don’t need to decide what you’ll be doing with the information you’ll be gathering at this point. Instead, you’ll probably come up with ideas as you go along.

For example, keeping a time log may help you to realize that you’re spending way too much on social media. This could lead you to set a limit such as the following: limit time on social media to fifteen minutes a day. Just start measuring and see what comes out of it.

6. Decide on One-Word for the Year. Pick a word to guide you throughout the year. Why just one word? Because one word gives you clarity and focus.

If you were to sit down and write down everything that you want for the new year, and then read over your list, you’d see certain patterns and themes emerging. Once you have these patterns and themes, boil it all down to the one word that encapsulates what you want for the year.

Here are some ideas for your one-word:

  • Flourish
  • Discipline
  • Simplify
  • Joy
  • Serenity
  • Fun
  • Excitement
  • Action

When you have your word for the year you can choose to share it on oneword365.com.

7. Reboot an Area of Your Life. Maybe there’s one area of your life that has gone completely off course and you wish you could just hit Ctrl+Alt+Del and start all over again. You may have gained weight, gone into debt, or become disillusioned with your work. If this is you, use the new year to get a fresh start.

As an illustration, if you’re unhappy with the way you’ve been eating, reboot by going on a detox diet. These are focused, short term diets that allow you to jump-start a weight loss program or help you to alter your eating habits. Keep in mind that the detox diets that are worthwhile are those that limit processed, high-fat, and sugary foods, and replace them with more fruits and vegetables.

If you want more ideas on how to get a fresh start in different areas of your life, here are ten rebooting strategies for you to consider.

8. Take a Life Audit. One option for the new year is to take a life audit. How are you doing in life? If you were to grade yourself in each of your life areas–relationships, work, finances, health, and so on–how would you do? What areas need improvement? What do you need to do to “raise your grade”?

Start the year by giving yourself a life audit. Once you know where you are now, you can decide where you want to be by the end of the year. Then, at the end of the year, audit yourself again to see if you improved. Here’s how to give yourself a life audit.

9. Take On a 365-Day Project. For a 365-day project, you pick something that you’re going to do every single day of the new year. Like what? Here are some examples:

  • Take a photograph every single day of the year and post it on Instagram.
  • Write 750 words every day of the year.
  • Wake up at the same time every day of the year.
  • Read a short story every day of the year.

You can find more ideas for 365-day projects here.

10. Use New Year Prompts. Decide what you want for the New Year by using prompts. Here are five prompts taken from my post, 36 Prompts to Help You Plan an Awesome New Year:

  • One habit I’m going to build this year:
  • One habit I’m going to break this year:
  • One person I’m going to spend more time with this year:
  • One thing I’m going to create this year:
  • One adventure I’m going on this year:

New Year’s Kit

Download my free New Year’s Kit below. It contains the following worksheets:

  • New Year’s Resolutions Worksheet for you to write down your resolutions for 2020.
  • 36 Prompts to Plan An Awesome Year – use these prompts to plan your best year ever.
  • 50 Questions to Review Your Year — use these questions to review how 2019 went.


I hope you were inspired by at least one of the ten alternatives to New Year’s resolutions which I list in this post. Have a great year by either setting New Year’s resolutions, or choosing one of the alternatives above.

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