The Guilt-Free Way to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Attainable

There’s pressure around creating New Year’s resolutions.

It’s challenging to commit to something (or to not doing something) for an entire year. And the American track record for keeping New Year’s resolution is abysmal: 75% abandon resolutions after one week; only about 8% actually achieve them.

Often the problem is making a laundry list of aspirations, from a healthy diet and fit body to an organized home and perfect parenting skills. Accomplish and maintain all that over 12 months? Sure. Easy peasy.

I’m guilty of those laundry lists of resolutions. It diverts my focus into too many areas so that I become overwhelmed. Or it becomes a daunting To-Do list with no definable end. How do I know when I’ve reached the healthiest state of my body? What if my home achieves organization in March but then gets messy again by May? Does that count as a failure?

It’s time to do away with resolutions that merely inspire guilt.


Think of a Theme

Something I’ve done in the past, which I’d like to revisit for 2014, is creating an annual theme for the upcoming year.

For example, on New Year’s 1998, I proclaimed 1999 to be the Year of Exploration. I was determined to break out of a rut and explore new career paths, new places, new aspects of myself. It set a tone for the year (an exciting one, at that) instead of a checklist. With one theme to focus on, my efforts didn’t feel scattered, yet the theme also allowed for great variety.

In my year-end review of 1999, I saw that I had explored many things from new parts of the country (Iowa, Colorado, Seattle) to activities that were new to me (camping, skinny dipping and trying pot). I was promoted to a new position at work. I explored writing and saw my first published piece (in Natural Health magazine).

Internally, I explored new ways to approach my family relationships (learning to appreciate my parents instead of blame them) and worked on developing a strong group of female friendships at time when I was beginning to feel enmeshed with my husband. Even smaller things like getting up alone to join in a country line dance or wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers into a bookstore added to my exploration and personal growth that year.

Had I created a To-Do list for 1999, I likely would have felt constrained and admonished by it, and would not have accomplished as much as I did. An overall theme provides structure and freedom at the same time. Some of my themes from other years have included: Creativity, Adventure, Nourishment and Abundance.

I’m not sure yet what I want 2014 to be. “Letting go” is an area I could use some focus on at the moment, but it doesn’t feel quite inspiring. The key is to choose a theme that engages you, one that offers room for play as well as self-improvement.

Let it be something that speaks to you and gets you creeping—or leaping—out of your comfort zone!

Want more ideas for alternative holiday celebration? Check out my eBook: The Guilt-Free Guide to Greening Your Holidays.

This post is featured on Thank Goodness It’s Monday.

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don’t Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month’s topic is Natural New Year’s Resolutions. Be sure to check out all of the participants’ posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to write for next month’s carnival. 

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6 Responses to The Guilt-Free Way to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Attainable

  1. For 2013 I picked 4 words which I wrote on an index card and put near my desk. I’m doing those 4 words again for 2014 because they encapsulate who I want to be.

  2. Lucy says:

    I definitely agree that we set ourselves up for failure with the traditional list of resolutions. I tend to try to do a bit of assessing and “pruning” around New Year to make sure life is moving in the direction I’d like it to be, but I do like the idea of a theme for the year 🙂

  3. Melissa Ryan says:

    I like the idea of resolution themes. I need to think on what I would want my 2014 theme to be. I imagine something along the line of simplify since decluttering and learning to manage staying at home instead of working will take the top focus.

  4. Pingback: Thank Goodness It's Monday #51 - Nourishing Joy

  5. Erica says:

    I have had mine in mind since the fall but things kept getting in the way. I am more driven then ever now and my theme (without a checklist!) has been Self Care! 🙂

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