12/30/2014 11:25 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Instead of Making Resolutions, Try Leaning into the New Year

'Tis the season for making resolutions for the New Year. "Out with bad habits -- in with the new!" We make resolutions, draw up lists, and put sticky notes on the bathroom mirror to remind ourselves of our new commitments. Our enthusiasm is high and we're optimistic about the "New Year, New You" lifestyle changes we plan to make.

But alas, for most of us, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak -- very weak. Most of us don't stick to our new commitments for even a month. One resolution after another goes out the window as the first few days of the new year unfold. Argh! Why don't we do the things we know are good for us? Why can't we stick to our commitments, even when we want to? Why do we bail out on ourselves?

Mark Twain knew the answer: "To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing." Ain't that the truth! That which we resist, persists. Swearing off a bad habit almost never works.

So this year, instead of making resolutions, declarations, and big commitments, let's just lean in to new attitudes and behaviors. Instead of trying to make dramatic changes in your life, look for small changes you can make... just for today.

Ask yourself: "What are three simple, do-able things I can change in my home today that would make me happy?" or "What are three simple, do-able changes I can make in my work space today that would make me happy?" or "What are three simple do-able things I can change about my self-care habits today that would make me happy?" Then do those three things. You don't have to do them all -- just a few each day will be fine. Take baby steps in the direction of your dreams. As Mom used to say, "Inch by inch, it's a cinch. Yard by yard, it's really hard."

(photo: Peacock Productions)

Here are 26 ways you can lean in to new attitudes, new behaviors, new habits:

Affirm that your life has purpose and meaning.
Believe in your skills, abilities, and talent.
Count your money and make your money count.
Disregard the doubters and critics around you.
Embrace change... even though you don't want to.
Forgive others who've hurt you... because forgiving them frees you.
Give yourself credit for weathering tough times.
Honor your spiritual beliefs and heed your intuition.
Inspire others with your integrity, ethics and values.
Juggle your projects and priorities as things change.
Keep your sense of humor... even if others have lost theirs.
Listen with your heart as well as your ears.
Manage your time and energy as precious assets.
Never give up on yourself.
Open your heart, your arms and your wallet to others in need.
Push boundaries and test your limits.
Question old habits and ways of thinking.
Rebound quickly from disappointments.
Say "yes" to new opportunities, even if you're scared.
Take time to nourish your body, mind and spirit.
Understand that you're perfectly imperfect.
Veer away from negative or toxic influences.
Work hard and work smart.
Xpress gratitude for your blessings.
Yawn in the face of fear.
Zing with joy each day you're alive!

And remember... Life is about progress, not perfection.


BJ Gallagher is a sociologist, popular speaker, and author of 30 books. Her latest is "It's Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been" (Viva Editions).