New Year's resolution alternative

When I think of New Year’s resolutions, I get anxious for no good reason. I quickly associate one huge, life-changing goal with resolutions. 

I’ll start thinking about how if I made a resolution, I’d have to fulfill it in one week, even though there are 51 more weeks in the year. I treat one resolution like each and every aspect of my life will get a complete overhaul.

This is why I’ve stopped with the whole New Year’s resolution thing.  I’ve got an alternative instead.

On the very last day of the year, I sit down in a comfy chair with a pen and paper and write a little letter to myself. It’s only one page long, and half of it is a list.  I address this letter to myself and write something like, “The following is to be completed to the best of your abilities by the final day of the year 20__.” 

I realize that sounds kind of intimidating, but I have a habit of getting super formal with myself; my to-do lists look like court mandates or warrants.

Once I jot down a line or two, I start listing out all the things I want to do. Where the language at the beginning of my resolution sounds incredibly formal, the format of the rest of my letter is easy-going. Just like my alternative resolutions.

Most of my “resolutions” are little things, like finally seeing The Godfather or reading Anna Karenina. I know that focusing on little things and being concrete are way more effective than making generalized, sweeping resolutions about self-improvement and “new year, new me.” 

I’ll say that I want to find my go-to red lipstick this year. I want to find a cute, yet professional pair of black high heels that I can wear at an interview or out on the town. I already play the guitar, so I want to master my two favorite songs. I want to develop a stronger friendship with one of my coworkers or classmates. I want to finally dye my hair that one color I’ve been thinking about for ages.

None of what I’ve got written above is particularly life-changing or huge, but that’s the point of the letter/list that I write. 

When I’m hunkered down in my comfy chair, sipping on a tasty drink, I think about the year that’s passed and everything that’s happened. I think about the future and all the things I eventually want to do. Yet I’ve realized that writing down a sentence or two on a piece of paper isn’t going to erase the bad memories and regrets from my past, nor will they guarantee me the happiness and success I crave for my future.

I don’t think about how I can change myself, but rather, of how I can improve myself. I don’t want to become a new person, because I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into being who I want to be. 

Frankly, expecting drastic changes of myself isn’t fair.

When I make my alternative resolutions, I look at myself in a positive way. Too often people make resolutions that focus on the parts of themselves they don’t like.  Again, they focus on changing themselves. 

But with my alternative resolutions, I think about the parts of myself that I already like and try to think of ways to make them better.

I like that I read, so I think about some books I could pick up that would help me to enrich my pre-existing knowledge. I like that I write, so I think about ways I can push myself or improve my skills. I love learning about metaphysical and occult things, so I’ll pick a topic that I’ve always wanted to learn more about and decide to look into it. I like to shop and like my personal style, so I think of one or two pieces I’d love to add to my wardrobe that’ll build on my classy spooky witch sensibilities.

I encourage you, my fellow twenty-somethings, to try making a few goals for the up-coming year. But instead of narrowing in on everything you want to change, consider the things you’d like to improve. Start small, because when those little pieces are in place, it makes it so much easier for bigger things to happen.

And above all, have fun! The New Year is an exciting time! Give yourself some awesome things to look forward to doing in the final months of winter.

Just don’t forget to sign your letter/list with a friendly, loving attitude. Offer some last-minute encouragement and kind words, then keep that letter in a place where you can access it easily to remind yourself of all the ways in which you’re going to become more fabulous.

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