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Beyond Resolutions: Navigating The New Year On Your Terms

Ditch the resolutions! Discover the secret to navigating the New Year on your terms. Say goodbye to one-size-fits-all resolutions and hello to habits you love.

Notebook with text: quit making new year’s resolutions

Every January, the pressure to reinvent ourselves with a laundry list of ambitious New Year's resolutions is hard to resist. We dream big and write down those classic goals like going to the gym every day, eating nothing but salad, and saving money. The truth is most of us give up within a month, feeling like failures. Why? Because we ignore who we are, what we like, and how we actually live. 

I, myself, am guilty of this - setting goals that aren't a natural part of my routine. Journaling every day? Exercising like a robot? Yeah, sounds great on paper, but not for my lifestyle. This year, I'm saying no thanks to the pressure and yes to goals that match my real life. 

If you're ready to ditch the usual resolutions and set goals that stick, here's how:

  • Forget "one size fits all” resolutions. What works for your friend might not be your thing. Choose goals that excite you and align with your interests, instead of copying others.

  • Small steps, big results. Don't try to change everything at once. Break down those big goals into bite-sized, manageable steps that gradually build up, and watch those small steps lead to significant results.

  • Make it fun, not a chore. Tracking progress shouldn't feel like a drag. Ditch the spreadsheets and boring checklists and track your progress in ways that you enjoy!

  • Listen to your body and mind. Don't feel guilty if you don't want to do something one day. Rest, relax, and come back to it when you're feeling up for it. Don't force yourself into rigid routines that suck the fun out of life.

  • Celebrate every win. Every accomplishment, no matter how small, deserves a celebration. Give yourself a high five and keep moving forward! It’s all about progress, not perfection.

Now, let's flip the script on some of those tired resolution norms:

1. Move Your Way, Not The Gym Way

curvy woman doing yoga

Break free from the usual “get fit" mantra. Instead of the pressure of going to packed gyms and forcing rigid routines, focus on moving your body in ways that feel good. Many of us fall into the trap of setting ambitious exercise goals, signing up for expensive gym memberships and planning to workout daily. We push ourselves from zero to sixty, only to quickly fizzle out and lose motivation. 

I know this all too well. Over time, I've come to realize that staying fit doesn't require an expensive gym membership. I found that I preferred getting out and doing activities around my city like walks around the lake, hikes through state parks, and joining in on free weekend yoga sessions.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get fit outside of the gym. Find activities you genuinely enjoy, like dancing, hiking, or even walking your dog. Start small, build up gradually, and make movement a fun part of your routine. By  moving in ways that you enjoy, you'll be more likely to stick with it and achieve your fitness goals. 

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Think about activities you truly enjoy. It could be anything from gardening to rock climbing. Make a plan to incorporate these into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Choose what works best for you and your lifestyle.

2. Mindful Spending, Not Penny Pinching

monthly budget on notebook paper

Say goodbye to the typical resolution to "save money". Instead of pinching pennies, embrace mindful spending. Budgets are about priorities, not restrictions. Every purchase tells a story about what matters most, so make conscious choices and prioritize experiences that bring you joy, and don't sweat the occasional splurge on something that truly matters to you. 

My life has revolved around making money just to survive and pay the bills, leaving me feeling unfulfilled and as if I wasn’t truly living, just existing. I used to feel guilty every time I spent money on something that wasn't "essential". I knew something had to change so I decided to flip the script. I started prioritizing experiences that brought me joy, like traveling, trying new restaurants; anything that fueled my soul. It became less about penny-pinching and more about choosing what really mattered to me. It was a matter of seeing where my money was going and choosing what was more important. Do I really need multiple streaming subscriptions? Do I need to keep overspending on groceries that end up going bad and getting thrown out? Is it really necessary to have takeout four times a week? 

By making small changes and saying "no" to the unnecessary, I freed up funds for the things I truly crave and that revitalize me. Now, before any purchase, I always ask myself: "Do I really want this, or would I rather use this money towards a trip or an experience? Will this purchase give me the same happiness as travel or an experience would?". Most often the answer is “no”, and I opt for the adventure over the stuff.

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Take a look at your current budget and identify areas where you could cut back. Then, make a list of experiences that bring you joy and prioritize them in your budget, allowing you to save while doing the things you love.


3. Healthy Eating Hacks, Not Diet Dilemmas

food in meal prep containers

Ditch the pressure to overhaul your entire diet. Eating healthy doesn't have to feel like a chore. Instead of making drastic changes, focus on finding creative ways to make healthy eating enjoyable. This can be as simple as adding more vegetables, cooking at home more often, or experimenting with new recipes. Make it an adventure and discover healthy foods you actually crave.

No time for healthy eating? I used to think the same way! But you know what? It doesn't have to be complicated. I started small, prepping family-size restaurant meals every week. Just two hours on Sundays saves me tons of time and stress, letting me eat healthy all week long. Eventually, I stopped relying on takeout and began cooking most of my meals at home, mainly as a way to save money. Over time I found cooking at home to be therapeutic for me and a great way to unwind from the chaos of the day. Instead of feeling like a chore, healthy eating became a huge reward for me.

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Instead of a complete diet overhaul, try adding one new healthy dish to your weekly meal plan, to help you stay on track and motivated.

4. Quality Time, Not just Quantity Time

friends playing cards and laughing

Ditch the generic "spend more time with family and friends" resolution. Instead, focus on meaningful connections and making the most of the time you have together. No need to wait for a special occasion to spend time with friends and  loved ones. Meet up for coffee or lunch, volunteer together, play a board game, have a conversation, or simply watch a movie together. It's the quality time that matters, not the elaborate plans. Make every moment count with people who truly matter.

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Create a "Connection Calendar." Block out time for regular calls, outings, or activities with loved ones. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just consistent. To make sure you are dedicating your time to those who matter most, consider eliminating toxic relationships from your circle.

5. Learn by Doing, Not By Knowing

person doing pottery

Shift from the pressure of learning something new and instead learn by trying something different. Learning comes in all forms and doesn't have to be formal or stressful. You can read a book, watch a documentary, or chat with someone who knows something you don't. Open your mind to new experiences, and you might just surprise yourself with what you discover. 

Personally, now that I am traveling more I’ve been interested in learning a new language. But the idea of going to classes and having to fit one more thing into my schedule was overwhelming. Instead, I found a language-learning app that I could use on my terms. I started with just 10 minutes a day, and before I knew it, I was speaking basic phrases. I’ve since incorporated books, foreign movies, and plan to incorporate a virtual tutor.

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Make a list of topics or skills that you're interested in learning more about. Start by spending just 10 minutes a day reading or watching a video on one of these topics.

6. Explore Local, Not Just Global

woman standing in the middle of the city looking at a map

Leave behind the pressures of planning big trips and take the time to explore new places in your surrounding areas instead. You can discover new neighborhoods, try new restaurants, and visit museums and parks. It doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming.

You can plan day trips or weekend getaways without breaking the bank. Plus, you'll save time and money on travel arrangements and accommodations. So, if you're looking for adventure and excitement, don't feel like you have to travel far. There's a whole world waiting to be discovered right where you are. All you have to do is take the time to explore and see it with fresh eyes.

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Make a list of places in your town, neighboring areas, or state that you've always wanted to visit but haven't yet. Research activities or check out local event calendars and plan a day to explore one or two of these places.

7. Level Up Your Skills, Not Just Your Job

woman sitting and taking online class on laptop

Instead of solely aiming to find a better job, focus on ways to gain new skills and pursue interests to feel more fulfilled. By focusing on skills development instead of a complete career change, you may discover new career paths you  never even considered. Take advantage of courses and career development opportunities to increase your skill set and create opportunities for growth. You don't have to break the bank or go back to school to level up. Platforms like Udemy, Google Digital Garage, HubSpot, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera offer many free or low-cost courses. Pursuing passions and developing skills can lead to career growth and fulfillment.

📝 Goal Planning Tip: Make a list of skills or interests that you're passionate about. Think about ways you can incorporate these into your current job or pursue them outside of work.


Let's ditch the traditional  resolutions and make this year all about owning our own journey, our own way. Remember, goals are about becoming the best version of yourself, not someone else's idea of it. Let's make this a year where growth feels like a personal victory, not a race to someone else's finish line. 

Here’s to a year of self-discovery and endless possibilities!


Comment Below: How do you plan to switch things up in 2024? Share your plans below!

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