I love New Year’s resolutions; I’m very easily inspired. However, up to 80% of the world will fail or give up by mid-Feb, so clearly there’s room for improvement. No judgment here. If resolutions aren’t your thing, there are many worthwhile alternatives.
I’ve shared twelve, in the briefest, simplest terms necessary. Don’t overcomplicate it or feel any pressure. Skim them and pick the one that stands out. Do that in January.
If it works, great! Double-down, take it to the next level, or add on another one. If it doesn’t, bookmark this so you can pick a new one in February, and so on throughout the year. You have twelve months and twelve chances to get it right.
If all else fails, scroll to the bottom and pick #12, my favorite of the entire list. Breathe deeply and trust that you can have a better 2020. It’s right around the corner, and it’s yours to make it whatever you need it to be. May one or more of these be the right answer for you.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. — James Clear
1. Improve your systems.
Consistency matters, so to start, choose a quick, repeatable win that will help you live better, or move you closer to who you want to become. Then do it every day. Don’t think of it as building a habit, or changing your behavior, think of it as a critical step in building a personalized system for a better life. You know where you can create your biggest edge, what’s getting in your way, and what you want, so take ownership of your life strategies too.
Each morning, as we face the page, we meet ourselves. — Julia Cameron
2. Establish a morning routine.
As soon as you wake up, before the day gets away from you, before you are responsible to and for others, write three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness thoughts. Get it all out, your thoughts, ideas, and emotions, and dive into your subconscious too. Discover yourself and observe what comes up. Don’t edit and don’t judge. Do it every day and see what transpires.
Let me fall if I must fall. The one I am becoming will catch me. — Baal Shem Tov
3. Chose a mantra.
Pick a personal word, phrase, or mantra that means something significant to you. Choose an affirmation that inspires you, speaks to you in your voice, and resonates deeply with your best self. Use it freely to elevate your thinking, get unstuck, or motivate you to keep going. Write it down, put it in your calendar as a daily reminder, tuck a note in your purse or car, post a sticky note on your mirror. Keep it visible.
The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. — Gary Keller
4. Focus on one thing.
Ask yourself, what do I want most? Sit with the question for awhile, then answer it honestly. This is for you, so there’s no reason to question what comes up or validate your answer. Then, reverse engineer the steps it will take to make it happen. Start where you are and take one action each day until you achieve it. Commit to the journey. Don’t be concerned with how long it takes; this is such important work.
Quantum science suggests the existence of many possible futures for each moment of our lives. — Gregg Braden
5. Be intentional.
Think about the aspects of your life that you are most passionate about, that bring you the greatest joy, satisfaction, and energy, that fuel your purpose. Vow to intentionally cultivate more of that in your life, but let go of your need to control it. Trust your calling, and trust that there is a higher power equally committed to fulfilling your intentions.
There is nothing heavier than the burden of potential. — Cheryl Richardson
6. Love yourself more.
Instead of making a list, or reviewing last year, instead of setting goals, or planning the future, what if you resolved to love yourself more in 2020? Ask yourself, What would it take to love yourself more? What would you have to do differently? Start there, revisit the exercise when you stray from love, and stick with it all year.
Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. — Marianne Williamson
7. See the sunny side.
Your brain is more creative in a positive state. A positive mind releases neurochemicals called success accelerants like dopamine, and they turn on the part of the brain that allows you to perceive more possibilities and process more information. It’s a great place to operate from, make decisions from, and create from. Attitude is a choice for all of us. Choose positively, and wisely, in 2020.
Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect. — Brene Brown
8. Risk vulnerability.
Instead of searching for improvement, evolution, or perfection in 2020, let someone you love see you in all your glory. Show up humbly, be vulnerable, be authentic, and reveal your heart. Don’t hide, don’t hedge, don’t manipulate, or manage the moment. Just be who you are with him/her and offer the same sacred space and opportunity to them.
God has perfect timing. — Rachel Hollis
9. Focus on gratitude.
For an entire year, choose to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled every single day, regardless of where you are or what’s happening. Journal about your gratitude. Share it, send thank-yous, and express your appreciation in real-time to see it multiply. When your cup overflows, let it spill out to the benefit of your family, friends, colleagues, and community.
The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them. — J.K. Rowling
10. Write it down.
Set a reading goal, set a writing goal, or commit to making notes every time you get an idea or something strikes your fancy. You don’t have to be an author or an entrepreneur to benefit. There’s magic in learning and capturing your thoughts, even if you can’t see the bigger picture or understand where it may lead. One day, you’ll know why you chose what you chose and collected it.
This life is what you make it. — Marilyn Monroe
11. Choose joy.
First, plan for joy by celebrating life, marking milestones, honoring your effort, claiming your victories, and treasuring your loved ones. Second, plan further out. Sure, short-term goals and your next steps matter, but when you outline the long-term vision for your life, you set your compass. What are your expectations, wishes, and hopes for your life as a whole? Imagine your final few chapters. The middle, or even earlier, might be where you are, but when you know your happy ending, you can stay the course.
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. -James Oppenheim
12. Envision your ideal day.
This exercise is my fave. For maximum effect, share it aloud with your favorite person. Envision your ideal day. Who are you with? What are you doing? Where are you? What are you eating, wearing, seeing? What do you feel, hear, think? Don’t hold back, describe it in excruciating detail, as if it’s inevitable, or already happened. Assume you’ll have all the resources and support to make it real. We are what we want after all, so tap into your deepest desires and perfect contentment.
If you liked these exercises and want more, take my fun and insightful quiz too, to see what 2020 might have in store for your career. Happy New Year!