Five Ways You Can Approach Your Resolutions with Joy Instead of Angst

January 12, 2024

It’s the new year and I don’t want to be tense. I don’t want to already be anxious about my “resolutions.” The ones I forgot to make, or the ones I made at 1 am on the 31st. I’m convinced the first step in finding joy at the start of a new year is taking the word resolution out of the equation. Let’s replace it with something less punitive sounding, shall we? Rather than “resolving,” which sounds hard and like you should bang on a table when you say it, how about a little more lighthearted approach? Still meaningful, just not so dire. I’ve heard alternative words like “Intention,” or “Aspiration,” or even an entire phrase used. Sure, it’s wordy, but at least it gives you more courage to face the blank page. 

“Things I’d like to tackle this year.” 

No fist thumping, just reflecting and committing some energy to making changes that you can feel good about. Because isn’t that really the goal? What’s a few things I can do where I can feel good about myself and that I hopefully won’t have to transfer to next year’s list? A gentler, softer and shall we say more doable list. Here are my ideas for how to make this enjoyable.

  1. Make the list! Take the plunge. No shame if it ends up being more journey than destination. Or even no journey at all, just put some ideas on paper! Simple, attainable changes. And just for giggles add one more item at the bottom of your list. Dream Big. Because why not give the universe a little nudge while you’re at it?

  1. Keep a sense of humor about achieving whatever you’ve written. If you don’t hit them all in the first week or month or two, keep swinging. Note to self: If you skip the punishment part for not doing it perfectly, you’re more likely to keep going! 

  1. Take the wins where you can - maybe you don't hit the bullseye on all of them, but take note of what you discover in trying. Maybe I don’t write a novel, but maybe I write a darn good short story. Maybe I don’t become fluent in French but maybe I don’t embarrass myself ordering breakfast a the new patisserie. So I don’t give up ice cream entirely, at least I no longer take a spoon to the carton! 

  1. When in doubt, do something physical. According to the Mayo Clinic, you don’t have to run a marathon to have your mood and energy lifted by physical activity. You can garden, wash a car or walk around the block. Return to your “aspirations,” with renewed enthusiasm.

  1. Put making human connections and laughing with friends and family at the top of your list. That way if all else fails, you would have achieved what matters most anyway. 

Lists are great and can organize your thoughts and actions but above all of our goals, let's make human connection, making time and effort to laugh with the people we love a priority for 2024. If a year from now we can reflect on moments that bring a smile to our face because they were silly and unexpectedly joyful we will have succeeded at the best part of being human.