01/08/2013 01:35 pm ET | Updated Mar 10, 2013

8 Things to Let Go of in the New Year

Often, when we consider making a New Year's resolution, we think about adding new activities to our day-to-day lives -- doing more by getting stricter with ourselves. Although there can be value in this approach to creating change, sometimes what we most need is just the opposite. Here are eight resolutions to consider, all involving letting go of something that we might be better off without.

A grudge: It might feel like too much to repair certain relationships in our life, but why not start small by choosing a person for whom you hold a small grudge over a minor offense and consider setting it down. Even if you can't quite justify forgiveness, try out "letting go" as an experiment. You don't necessarily have to tell the person about your choice. What's more important is that you make this shift within yourself and notice how it affects your behavior, possibly leaving you with a lighter heart.

An unrealistic self-expectation: Think of an unrealistic expectation you put on yourself -- maybe assuming you should always be patient or punctual or on top of everything. Consider what it would be like to give this up for the year, allowing yourself to be imperfect and having compassion for your humanness.

An unhealthy food: Review the unhealthy foods that you eat and consider if there's one worth giving up. A "good" treat offers us levels of pleasure and enjoyment that make it worth its cost, yet other indulgences (if we're honest about them) don't even really taste that good, or they leave us feeling worse for having eaten them. What might you consider letting go of in this New Year?

A type of rushing: While it might be too much to commit to never rushing, consider if there's a particular way in which you'd like to slow down in these next months. You may want to commit to not rushing while you're eating, driving or running errands. Possibly, your family wants to rethink the morning stress created by trying to do too much in too little time. You can even try something as simple as walking more slowly when you catch yourself not needing to move quickly from point A to point B.

A negative influence: Consider if there's a source of news, a type of music, or a place you sometimes go that often leaves you feeling irritated or down. If you're able to avoid this influence, you might want to consider doing so. Sometimes we forget the choices we can make about what we're taking in through our senses.

A limiting self-belief: Is there a belief you hold about what you can't do or who you can't be that you feel ready to shed? If you notice yourself thinking "I could never..." think again -- maybe this is an old, outlived belief that it's time to let go of.

A form of multi-tasking: Notice if there's a daily task that you want to commit to bringing your full presence to. You might decide you want to simply eat lunch as opposed to working through lunch, or talk on the phone without attempting to simultaneously accomplish house chores, or play with your kids without responding to incoming texts or emails. By doing one thing at a time, we can restore a sense of calmness and sanity in our everyday life.

A worry or fear: Pick one worry or fear to set down. It might help to write it down on a slip of paper and tuck this inside of a worry jar or box. You can also create a mini-ritual in which you first reflect on what this fear or worry most needs from you, and what it is about at a deeper level. You can then imagine handing it over to a higher power, God, or some other force that works for you. The key is to imagine what it would be like to move this worry outside of yourself, experiencing the feelings of freedom that come from letting it go.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D., is the author of "Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit," newly released from Hay House and available for purchase at bookstores, including Amazon. For additional information, please visit her website at

For more by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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