5 Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions

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Posted on December 28, 2020

If you are like me, you’ve tried setting New Year’s resolutions just to fall short of them a few days or weeks into the New Year. Well, we are not alone… statistically the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent. Obviously, not everyone who fails at New Year’s resolutions lacks discipline. The problem is more likely the tradition itself and our approach to it.

We set resolutions from a place of lack, scarcity, from fear of failure, and from “not-enoughness”. Resolutions place strong demands on ourselves to do more, be better and do all the things we have never managed to accomplish before. Most of us don’t really check-in with our motivation or inspiration for these resolutions. All this does is lead to the inevitable failure of not living up to our resolutions and creates a continuous cycle of feeling disappointed and inadequate.

How about we try a few more gentle and less pushy approaches to setting the tone for the New Year ahead? When what we set out to accomplish feels good, then we will find ways to move toward them with clarity and inspiration. Finding an anchor like an intention, mantra, or word of focus can help guide our choices and actions throughout the year.  

My Favorite Alternative Approaches to New Year’s Resolutions

Before setting intentions, ask yourself about your motivation for wanting to change something. Inspiration and motivation for personal change look different for everyone and we need to tune in to ourselves and really get to the core of the motivation. Your intentions should be inspiring, motivating, exciting and expansive and not feel restrictive or like a punishment for being bad and needing to do better. 

1) My Year of…

Is there something you want to bring into your life this next year? Is there a desire that you want to make a reality? How do you want to show up for yourself? – whatever it may be make it your intention by making 2021 your YEAR OF...

…my year of fun, creativity, self-care etc.

…my year of exploring or learning

…my year of saying “yes” or “no”

…my year of speaking my truth

2) Choose Your Word for The Year

Choose a one-word theme, a word that reminds you and keeps you focused on how you want to show up for yourself and how to achieve the goals most important to that mission.

For example, what is one word that describes a character trait that you want to call in? What is one word that will inspire you to be your best self? What is one word that describes what you want and how you need to show up to achieve it?

Last year my word was deservedness – a reminder to myself that I deserve all good things that the Universe has in store for me and that I do not have to do or be ‘more, different, less, etc.’ to deserve love. I was certainly challenged throughout the year in ways that reminded me to come back to this over and over again when my ego-mind wanted to tell me differently.

3) Create a List

Create a two-sided list where on one side you free-write everything that you would like to leave behind and on the other side you write about all the things you want to call in.

This is simple yet powerful. The simple act of reflecting and writing it out declares to the Universe what it is that we want without adding the negativity or pressure of resolutions. You can also take it a step further and use the list of things you want to leave behind to gain a deeper understanding about yourself.

4) Dear Future Self…

Write a letter to your future self. Write the letter in past tense, as if what you are detailing has already happened. Be as detailed as you can be and really visualize your future self and how you feel in that moment of reflection. This helps you create a clear vision of what you would like your year to be filled with and how you would like to feel.  

5) Take Baby Steps 

If looking a full year ahead seems daunting, then forgo the yearly intention setting and instead create a monthly ritual to check-in with yourself. You can do this in alignment with the lunar cycle and set new intentions during each new moon for the upcoming month.

Declare Your Intentions to The Universe

Once you have your Year Of, Word, or Letter make sure you declare it to the Universe. You can do this in a number of ways such as speaking them into existence, writing and releasing them.

My friend and I have created our own fun ritual to declare to the Universe all that we want to call in, accomplish, and how we want to show up for ourselves. We do Yearly Champagne Wishes where we write down our intentions on sticky notes, read them out loud to each other and then consecrate them with sips of Veuve. Once all intentions have been read and the last sip of Veuve has been consumed, we put all our sticky notes into the bottle, seal it and then burry it somewhere to be held by the Earth until we are ready to dig them back up. I know this is involved but we created this fun little ritual that works for us… have fun and get creative with it.


  • Share your intention with a friend who you can trust and who will hold space for you but also hold you accountable (gently)
  • Write your intentions, letter etc. in your journal and read or sing them aloud as the vibration of your voice adds powerful vibration to the intention
  • Record yourself saying your intentions and then listen to them throughout the year to remain focused and accountable to yourself

Take Aligned Action

Setting intentions and declaring them to the Universe help guide our decisions and actions throughout the year. Try to commit to small practical actions every month that will help you stay aligned with your intentions and to hold yourself accountable. Also, anchor back to your intentions every time you are weighing a decision about whether you should or shouldn’t …. If it is aligned with your intentions then go for it! Lastly, try to figure out a way to bring some fun into the equation.