The tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions dates back more than 4,000 years to the Babylonians. But, according to a recent Forbes article, 80% of those resolutions are broken. ”Making resolutions can be overwhelming and defeating,” says Nell Osborne, a mental health counselor at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. “Instead, it’s important to think of something that’s attainable to do each day. For example, to be kinder or more present with your family.” 

So, this year, instead of sticking with traditional resolutions (“I want to lose 20 pounds by March”), try one of these eight alternatives. These ideas will help you keep what’s important as individuals and as a family in focus.


Make a 2021 bucket list

Think about what experiences you’d like your family to tackle in the new year—think about specific goals for school, work, relationships and home life. If you’re a tech person, apps like iWish allow you to keep track of what you want to achieve. If you’d like a visual daily reminder you can put up around the house, try this simple bucket list—print out one for each member of the family to fill out as you count down to the start of 2021.


Create a monthly challenge

A monthly challenge can be anything from reading three books to skiing at least five days. It can be about educating oneself on certain topics or learning to only shop sales at the supermarket to save money. Make sure the challenge is achievable in the allotted time. 


Try gratitude exercises

One way to change your life in a positive way for the new year is to incorporate more gratitude into daily practices. Start with gratitude exercises—they help reduce anxiety and depression, make you feel more energized and aid in getting you a better night’s sleep. “I suggest gratitude journaling or having each person in the family share something they are grateful for that day over dinner,” says Dr. Jocelyn Petrella Gallagher, a child and family psychologist based in Denver, CO. 


Put goals in a jar

Write down family goals that aren’t time-sensitive (ie: you can complete them at any point in the year), fold them up and place them into a jar. Family goals could be anything from spending more time outside and volunteering to reading the Harry Potter series together. Once a goal is fulfilled, pick out a new one. 

Similar to the jar activity, Osborne recommends having everyone write down the strengths of other members of the family or things they appreciate about the other members. “For example, a child may say that their mom is a good listener,” she says. “Put the strengths or appreciative words in a jar and choose one each month. Then, everyone focuses on that word—whether it be listening better or helping more with cooking.”

Practice mindfulness

2020 brought on stress—for adults and children alike—in a whole new way. This year, incorporate mindfulness practices into daily life. “Often, our minds are focused on anything but the present moment and regular mindfulness helps with this,” says Gallagher. Some practices she recommends include meditation, going on a mindfulness walk and doing a body scan.


Make realistic lists

If the past year has taught us anything, it was to slow down. One way to kick off 2021 is to reflect on what you want to do more of, less of or stop doing as a whole in the new year. Make a list of them and add the steps you need to achieve those things. Maybe you want to stop staying up late binging Netflix so you get more sleep. Perhaps you want to spend more time volunteering and less time on Facebook.

Be sure to be realistic when it comes to the things you add to the list and be conscious of the process it will take to achieve them. “When working on activities like a list, make sure it’s diverse with different levels of intensity or ability,” says Osborne. “That way it won’t seem as intimidating and you are more likely to follow through. For example, try not to say for an entire month, I won’t watch television. Have smaller increments that are realistic and achievable such as, I’ll cut down to 30 min of television per day.”


Use a vision board

Also referred to as a dream board, vision boards keep us focused on where we want to go and what we want to achieve in life. The best approach for a board is to cover aspirations in all areas of life. Boards can be created from a variety of materials including cork (bulletin board) or canvas. Words, photos or drawings are the perfect way to express the direction you want life to go. Everyone can create their own boards to place in an office or bedroom or a family one to put in the living room. “Make vision boards appealing to the eye by using colors that you love, then add things that will remind you of the importance of what you envision,” suggests Osborne.


Have a word or mantra of the week/month/year

Encourage everyone to choose one word for the year that defines what their focus will be. Reflect on that word (or mantra!) during dinner or while in the car on the way to the grocery store, and make sure to place it in an important place in the house. Repeat the word or phrase to yourself every morning or when you need to refocus. Remind children of their intentions when a new day starts or if they have a moment of struggle. If one word or mantra for the year seems like too much of a challenge, break it down to a word or mantra for the week or month. 

This article in its entirety can be viewed at: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/8-alternatives-to-new-years-resolutions.