Alternative New Year’s resolutions

A tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream being eaten in front of a fireplace

The New Year can seem like the perfect time to make a fresh start, and change something about your life. But did you know that only around three per cent of those making New Year’s resolutions keep them for the full year?

A tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream being eaten in front of a fireplaceIt probably shouldn’t be surprising that most people have let their resolutions slip before the first month of the year is out.

In the UK daylight lasts only half as long in January as it does in July, and if you work indoors you may miss it completely during the week. The weather has been known to be pretty miserable… so depriving ourselves can make the month seem even more unpalatable.

Lots of us indulge ourselves over Christmas, so a complete change of habits comes as a shock to the system. And with everyone getting back to work, January is one of the busiest months of the year. This can take focus and energy away from our personal objectives.

If you’d still like to give some serious New Year’s resolutions a go, here are our tips and here’s how to make them stick.

Otherwise, you could consider one of these alternative styles of resolution, which may be easier (and more interesting) to keep:

Have fun

If you’re going to decide to do something, why not pick something pleasurable? Fun resolutions – maybe ‘fresolutions’ – could add a little joy to your life.

One year I resolved to try every flavour of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. It was quite new to Britain so there were fewer than the 25 options now available… but it was something enjoyable to think about doing every now and then.

At a New Year’s Eve party one friend resolved to wear red knickers every day for the coming year. Great – until we discovered she only owned one pair. Ewww!

Indulge your dreams

Got somewhere you always dreamed of going?

Make a resolution to book that holiday. It is easy to think ‘one day’, but why not make it happen in 2017? The anticipation of a proper treat could keep you motivated in all sorts of other ways – from working hard to pay for it to sticking to the diet. But if it doesn’t, you’ll still have some fabulous memories.

Dream resolutions aren’t just for holidays, but whatever your heart desires. You may have to work at achieving them, and be flexible about how you get there. If you really want it, you’ll persist!

Front cover of India Knight's book In Your PrimeWho dares wins

Anything you’re putting off because it’s scary? Challenge yourself to do it within the year, by making a daring resolution.

In 2002 I resolved to check out laser eye surgery. I could see the potential benefits but was terrified at the thought. It took until August to get to the clinic, and I was assessed as being too short sighted to have the operation done. But at least I’d had the courage to try.

In her book In Your Prime India Knight tells of someone who could now treat me, but I think it would be boring to have the same resolution again!

Give yourself permission

Permission resolutions are our final version of resolution-lite. Instead of beating yourself up about a bad habit, why not start with a little self acceptance?

Rather than try to give up alcohol/cheese/chocolate/cake, try giving yourself permission to really enjoy whatever is your ‘poison’. Without associated guilt. Savour each mouthful. You’ll feel better without depriving yourself, and may be less likely to give up at a weak moment and binge.

If you feel you have to make some dreary regular resolutions, to save money or lose weight, good luck to you. Though if you’re thinking ‘I really should…’, do try turning it into ‘I really could…’. ‘Should’ speaks of things imposed on you, by yourself or others. ‘Could’ speaks of choice and belief.

But why not still add the odd fun, dreamy, daring or permissive resolution into the mix, for balance? And set off determined to make 2017 a magnificent year.

Wishing you a healthy and happy one!