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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

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Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

The beginning of the new year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money in the next 365 days. It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year. That’s when it may be time to consider some alternatives to New Year’s resolutions.

To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your New Year’s resolution list—instead of adding to it—to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

Make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list—your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

We all know the sense of obligation when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

For alternatives to New Year’s resolutions related to gift-buying, take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

Stop Focusing on the Material Objects

Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

Plan Gifts in Advance

We know this is easier said than done, but if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind, and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

Suggest a Better Way

If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got.

Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you. These are all great alternatives to New Year’s resolutions related to gift-buying.

Go for Common Experiences Instead of Exchanging Gifts

You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner, or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years, but if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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2. Starting a New Diet or Fitness Plan

It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy, diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer, and younger than we actually are. However, going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results in the short-term.

If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life only to drop it one month later.

How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last? Check out these alternatives to New Year’s resolutions related to diet and fitness.

Set a Healthier Pattern

For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment).

Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

Get a Fitness Watch

Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps and calories burnt, and will serve as an excellent motivator to move—or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Find a Physical Activity You Enjoy

Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like—from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

Try Intermittent Fasting

This is an alternating cycle of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss, making it one of the best alternatives to New Year’s resolutions related to dieting.

Opt for Cycling or Walking

Instead of driving to work, try cycling or walking if your job is within a reasonable distance. You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money—win-win!

3. Squeezing as Much as Possible Into a Daily To-Do List

In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community, and probably several other individual roles.

But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How can you avoid losing yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? Most importantly, how can you still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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Instead of trying to get as much done as possible, try starting with these alternatives to New Year’s resolutions related to your daily planning.

Leave Bigger Intervals Between Meetings

If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and, as a result, more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor, too.

Plan Time to Relax

As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal.

Try to Be a Little Pessimistic

We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic—assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

Wake up Earlier

Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

Plan Your Day the Day Before

Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed, so definitely consider this idea when looking into alternatives to New Year’s resolutions.

Designate a Time for Checking Emails

If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

4. Stop Smoking or Drinking

If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the New Year, it’s the habits that steal our time and provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long-term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

Everyone seems to want to stop smoking or drinking, and it’s definitely a good idea to aim for that if it has become a problem in your life. However, there are other habits that are also causing problems in many people’s daily lives, and those also need attention.

Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

Binge-Watching Series

Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch,” being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

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You can manage this addiction in several ways. For example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book—this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks.

You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies—seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it. These are all great alternatives to New Year’s resolutions related to habits.

Running on Coffee

Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not as innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee—a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

Procrastination

Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning—get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites, or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media to, for example, just 20 minutes per day.

If nothing else works, try bribing yourself—promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

5. Buying Less

We live in the age of consumerism—huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle on the other. The common solution is to try to consume less whenever and wherever you can. However, it’s better, perhaps, to try to buy smarter with better alternatives to New Year’s resolutions.

Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
  • Can I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
  • Can I rent it or make it myself?
  • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment. Are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

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Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

6. Unplug From Your Phone

Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world—too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

How can you refuse the temptation to check the phone in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

Some tips for managing your phone-dependency through better alternatives to New Year’s resolutions include:

Spend a Limited Amount of Battery Per Day

For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it last until the evening.

Block Distracting Apps and Notifications

Choose one-hour, two-hour, or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.

Set Your Phone on Airplane Mode

When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on airplane mode so that nobody can disturb you.

The Bottom Line

As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us. But this year, promise yourself this:

Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones, and cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

Less is more, so make this year count with fewer but better New Year’s resolutions.

More on Setting Goals and Resolutions

Featured photo credit: S O C I A L . C U T via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Ieva Sipola

Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data) Does Coffee Really Improve Work Performance? [Experiment + Infographic] How Social Media Can Hurt Your Job Search And Your Future Career How to Change Your Mindset for a Happy And Successful Life Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

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Last Updated on September 27, 2021

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, this article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question — why is goal setting important?

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

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Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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