Why I Ditched the Resolutions and Focus on Achievements Instead

A few years ago, I had an epiphany. Faced with a new year and feeling the pressure to come up with some lofty and nebulous goals, I decided to first sit down and list everything I had accomplished the year prior. The task started small because I didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything big or important that year. So, I started thinking about little goals I had achieved (such as finally figuring out how to use that blasted Instapot (kind of)), but then, the more I thought about it, the more accomplishments came to mind—and some of them were rather impactful. 

The previous year I had forged new, lasting friendships, reconnected with family members, and started some helpful daily routines. No matter how large or how small, I started listing everything positive that I had done the previous year. And do you know what I ended up with? Instead of a looming, insurmountable “to-do list” of New Year’s Resolutions, I had a beautiful list of all the ways I had succeeded in the past year. And, I’m here to tell you, that small act was way more impactful and motivating than any list of resolutions. 

This idea also translated well to my kids. Instead of trying to get them to think into the future and imagine what they might like to accomplish, we sat down and talked about what had gone well over the past year. It’s easy to dwell on defeats and mistakes, but instead, we flipped the script and talked about what was good about the past year. That particular year we survived virtual learning, for starters. Sure, it wasn’t pretty and my kids’ grades were just barely passing during that time, but ya know what? They did it. They survived and now they are that much more grateful for in-person learning experiences. 

I’ve found that by thinking through the past year’s accomplishments, I was motivated to add to my list of accomplishments for the next year. Sure, you might say this sounds suspiciously like goal-setting—and you’re probably right—but instead of feeling like I had all of these new things I had to get done in the new year, I was setting myself up to try things. 

Here are a few resolutions that can be easily flipped to reflect achievement rather than setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.

Lose Weight/Get in Shape

The number one, all-time New Year’s Resolution is undoubtedly to lose weight or get in shape in the new year. There’s a good reason why gyms offer great rates for signing up for memberships in January and also a good reason why these same gyms are like ghost towns come March or April. So, if you do have a goal to lose weight or get in shape, try examining that goal a bit and look back on the past year. Just having the desire to get healthier is the first step. Think back to how often you exercised in the past year and count that as an accomplishment. Tried a new fitness class last year? Boom! Accomplishment! Made a new friend who is into health and fitness? Boom! 

Save Money

This is yet another tried and true resolution that is easier said than done. Instead of setting a strict and restrictive budget, think back to how much money you made in the past year. Did you pay your taxes on time? Well done! Did you pay off some debt that had been hanging over your head? Congrats! 

Make New Friends

Did you make a connection with someone new last year? In this day and age with our busy lives, connection can be hard to come by. So, count any positive connections with others as a win. List all of the people you encountered that you enjoyed hanging out with. Consider reaching out to them in the new year to forge a potential friendship. Making connections is the hardest part of starting a friendship, but since you already have that you can focus on growing and maintaining those connections in the new year. 

Instead of making a list of goals and resolutions that I felt certain would dissipate by February, leaving me feeling like that much more of a quitter, listing my accomplishments leaves me feeling like I have done some amazing things. While many of us are eager to say goodbye to 2021, I will be looking at what I accomplished over the year and feeling quite proud. I’m all in for anything that inspires and uplifts rather than shames and defeats us, so you can count on me to close the chapter on 2021 with a smile and a sense of pride as I look forward to what 2022 holds for us all. I encourage you to do the same, friends! 

Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two (Anna, 2007 and Jack, 2009), who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry (and sarcasm). Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, and is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, New Braunfels Monthly and San Antonio Woman, as well as assorted other publications. You can also find her on Instagram (introvertsguidetosobriety). Favorite Restaurant: Bohanan's Favorite Landmark: The Alamo (duh) Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest (not technically SAT, but closer to Jenny's stomping grounds).

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