We’ve all been there. “THIS is the year,” we tell ourselves. “This is the year, I will get in shape, eat less sugar, eat more vegetables, get out of debt, get the dream job, find that great love…” And yet, within weeks of when that ball has dropped on Times Square, our resolve has faded. In fact, only 8% of Americans achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
Perhaps that’s because New Year’s resolutions tend to be unrealistic or poorly planned. And perhaps the resolutions we make are often those we feel we should make (based on social pressure) rather than those that will truly help us achieve our goals or greater happiness. So why not resolve to live a more authentic and fulfilled life?
Here is a list of totally achievable New Year’s resolutions (that have absolutely nothing to do with your weight) to help you kick off 2017 with more good and more purpose:
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Humans spend a lot of time and energy worrying about things that don't really matter. We can all do well to work on gaining a bit more perspective and shaking off the nonsense. Try calming your head and your heart this year by finally learning yoga, meditation, or just happy reflection. Seek more joy, contentment, and purpose in your life. And unclench a little.
Volunteering for an organization is a meaningful way to add purpose to your life and expose yourself to a wealth of new perspectives. If you’re still trying to find a cause that really resonates with you, consider this advice from Glennon Doyle Melton (of Momastery):
“People always ask: ‘G, how do I find my purpose?’
I look at them and ask: ‘What breaks your heart? There you go. That’s your purpose.’”
The days of completely customizable and filtered news are terribly convenient. And while it’s pleasant to read only news that you care about from a bias with which you most likely agree, it’s killing our perspective and creating stark division. Consider checking news sources from beyond your typical Facebook feed. And be vigilant about seeking out and supporting legitimate news sources that report facts.
The ways in which we spend our money matter. And behind every purchase and every product is a person—the person who made that item. While it’s convenient for our budgets to get things for super cheap, are we perpetuating the cycle of impossibly low wages and dangerous working conditions when we insist on cheap everything? Consider buying things more purposefully. Buy things you love and things you feel good about, not things you want just because they’re cheap. The price tag comes off as soon as you put the item in your closet anyway.
Take more time to pause during life’s special moments. These things matter, but in today’s hustle, they can quickly become overlooked. This year, make a point of acknowledging more accomplishments and making more days special. At the very least, break out the bubbly and the fancy linens more often than the holidays.
Say yes every time your friends try to set up a lunch date, even when (and especially when) your hectic schedule suggests you should skip it. Say yes when your dog gives you that sad look that translates to “please take me on a walk.” Say yes every time your kids ask you to go to the park, even when you’re busy.
William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Many of us are guilty of having clutter we despise in our homes. Start the year fresh with a good purge of things you don’t use or love. And try donating those items in a thoughtful way by giving clothes to women's shelters or books to hospitals.
The older I get, the more I realize that I do things because of obligation. Sure, grown-ups need to do certain things that aren’t always fun. But what if we made a more conscious effort to enjoy time? Rather than watching another mindless show on TV, why not open a much better book or dust off that sewing machine you claim you never have time to use? And when was the last time you spent a Sunday morning just quietly enjoying your coffee or taking a ridiculously relaxing bubble bath? This year, let’s break the habit of habitual doldrums and make time matter.
Two years ago, my unrest with my current career path reached a fever pitch. I was desperate for more purpose in my work, but I couldn’t figure out how to achieve it, especially with the responsibilities that come along with being a parent. I literally made a spreadsheet of various options—from going back to school for a Master’s degree in International Development to starting my own business—and weighed the costs and time it would take for me to meet various goals. But what that exercise really showed me was what I wanted in my gut. I kept going back to the row for Start a Social Business and tweaking it. This made me realize how much I really wanted to start a do-good business. So that’s what I did. Sure, I had to keep my day job to do it, and this meant working far more than I expected and working just as hard to carve out quality time with my kids. But just the act of starting down a new path felt like breaking free from jail. Whatever your career goals are, map out the steps (honestly and realistically) you need to get there. And then go for it already!
Resolve to make this year count. Live more days on purpose, and treat time as a precious commodity. Listen to your instinct about what makes you happy, and map out your time and your energy based on those things.
Last, “experts” say that people who share their goals or even write them down are far more likely to achieve their goals. So share yours in the comments.
Meanwhile, have a safe and happy New Year, and cheers to 2017! (May it be better than 2016.)
Co-Founder & Chief Giving Officer, Society B