Healthy Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions

I’ve never been a maker of New Year’s resolutions. They always seemed so harsh and punitive, like go to the gym and run on the treadmill every day for 365 days even if you hate running. More importantly, as an overly-pragmatic person, the research and science on their ineffectiveness was enough to seal the deal: I am never making a New Year’s resolution.

My distaste for New Year’s resolutions, however, does not mean that I don’t believe in setting goals or self-improvement. Far from it! I think life is far more interesting and rewarding when we regularly challenge ourselves to new activities, push ourselves to become better, and actively forge a better life.

Since I am frequently asked questions that range from, “how can I improve my food photography?” to “how can I find my dream career?” to “how can I be more productive?”, I thought it would be useful and fun to create some inspiring New Year templates to help you achieve your goals and live a healthy, happy 2019.

I’ve posted each of these templates in my Instagram Stories (one for the first seven days of 2019). All you need to do is screenshot the blank template and then fill it out with your own goals, ideas, lists, etc. You can use the Instagram Stories text function to fill it out, or another text-editing app. But, some of us are old-fashioned, and prefer to write out our goals on paper (perhaps, even hang them above our bed or at our desk for daily reminders). So I’m also sharing the templates here so you can save them as a PDF and then print away (just right-click on the template (“control” button on a Mac), then click “save as”; open the image on your computer and print as you would any image).

If you’re curious to know a little bit about me and what I’m working on and excited for in 2019, head to my Instagram Stories to see my answers to all of these templates! And of course tag me in YOUR Stories when you fill one of these templates out because it has been so fun to see what you all are saying about your goals and hopes for 2019!

Intentions

This template is designed to help you focus on what you want this year. Because setting intentions for the entire year, can seem too vague and hard-to-pin-down, I’ve created subcategories that can help categorize your intentions.

If this still seems too big-picture for you, you can use this template on a monthly basis instead (i.e., your intentions for January 2019).

Your intention should be something you want to do, that gives you purpose, and that helps you complete goals that enrich your life. For instance, in 2019, I want to resume writing in my Five Minute Journal: it makes me happy and it helps me practice gratitude, a big-picture goal that enriches my life.

Aside from that, your intentions can be as diverse as “rearranging my time to spend more time in nature every day” to “delete the bad by hiding from my feelings of sadness.”

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My Happy List

One of the reasons I dislike New Year’s resolutions is because they almost always come from a negative, prohibitive position: lose weight, don’t eat sugar, spend less time watching TV, etc. That’s why I created the Happy List: a simple, positive list that reminds you that there are so many awesome, fun, inspiring things you can do this year.

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Goal-Setting

Research shows that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than people who don’t. Moreover, people who write down their goals and make them very specific and review them regularly are even more likely to achieve their goals.

But it’s not enough to just write down your big-picture goal. You need to break down your big-picture goal into chunks and identify all the action steps you need to take in order to achieve your goal.

This template asks you to focus on one overarching goal that you want to achieve in your life (e.g., be more mindful). You then break that goal down into four mini-goals (e.g., eat more mindfully, be more present around my family). If you have more than four mini-goals, just print out two copies of this template. Then, get concrete and write down all of the action steps you need to achieve those mini goals (e.g., chew each bite at least 20 times, put my phone on Airplane mode at dinner with family, etc.). If you have more than three action steps for a given goal (you likely will!), you can write them on the backside of the printed template.

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My Book List

This template is a bit more niche than the others, as it’s focused exclusively on reading books. I created this more-specific template partially because I, personally, would like to read more books in 2019, but also because this is one of the few New Year’s resolutions I routinely hear people make that I actually support! Books can teach us so much about the world and ourselves, how to be more compassionate and empathetic, how societies and institutions work, how to be more grateful…the list goes on, so yeah, everyone should want to read more books this year!

This template makes you more likely to stick to a vague resolution to “read more books in 2019” by getting you excited about specific books. In making my list, I consulted best-seller lists, Amazon, and friends to get a perfect mix of genres that I enjoy: happiness, productivity, race, gender, culture, science, and history.

Reboot My Life

If there’s an area of your life that has gone off track or is holding you back, this template is designed for you. Instead of just resolving to fix that area (e.g., get back in shape), this template helps you plan how you’ll reboot that area.

The template starts with the WHY—why do you want to reboot this area of your life. Oftentimes, we make resolutions without really thinking about why we are making them. Do you want to get back in shape simply because you like the way your old clothes fit? Or is it for a larger purpose, like you want to set a good example for your kids? When you think about the WHY, it helps you determine how important this goal is to you, and accordingly, how much effort you will put into it.

After you figure out the WHY, write down three goals or sub-areas that you want to achieve or reboot (e.g., I want to be able to deadlift 100 pounds by March 31). Finally, to ensure that those goals aren’t forgotten, you’ll write down the very next step you’ll need to take towards achieving that goal (e.g., go to the gym tomorrow and try deadlifting 60 pounds). Every time you complete one of these “very next steps,” you can update your template to fill in the next “very next step.”

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30-Day Challenge

This is a great template to use if want to try out a new behavior or activity but aren’t ready to commit to it full-time. If you’ve been wanting to try a vegan diet out (yay!) but have been feeling overwhelmed or unsure how to start, a 30-day challenge is a great way to introduce it into your life in a low-stress manner. If what doesn’t work for your lifestyle or doesn’t make you feel good after 30 days, you don’t have to continue doing it, simple as that! On the other hand, if you love the way you feel or find the challenge to be easy or rewarding, then now you have a new habit or lifestyle that you enjoy!

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My Bucket List

This template is a bit self-explanatory. It’s a mini version of a lifelong bucket list. Why? Because bucket lists are fun to make and make you feel excited to be alive! Your bucket list can include a mix of personal goals (e.g., run a half marathon), professional goals (e.g., ask for a raise), but I highly recommend including a good number of fun goals in there as well!

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I hope you enjoy using these healthy lifestyle templates this year! If you use one, drop me a line below or post your own list to your Instagram stories and tag me!