We're just six days into the new year, and it's likely you've already seen at least one determined runner hitting the pavement in the early morning hours. You've probably heard at least a few people swearing off alcohol and sweets for the next month, and hey, you've probably got a few resolutions of your own written down on some crumbled sheet of paper you'll forget about in a few weeks. I know I do.
Let's face it: New Year's resolutions are stressful. Whether it's losing 20 pounds or saving up a few thousand dollars for that dream trip to Thailand, it's difficult to stick to goals, especially when we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve them. In fact, according to Forbes, just 8 percent of us will achieve our New Year's resolutions. That means the rest of us who set goals will fail, and no one likes that feeling.
That's why when one of my girlfriends told me she was ditching the traditional New Year's resolution this year and trying something new, my ears perked up with interest. "I'm listening . . . " I said to her.
Here's how it works: Instead of choosing a specific goal, my friend decided to choose a word that she wanted to represent her year. This way, instead of battling with the scale or trying to reach some random goal she set for herself, she would try to spend 2016 doing things that made her feel this specific word. I instantly loved the idea and immediately started to think of things I wanted to feel in 2016.
Here are a few I've come up with. And if you're frustrated with traditional New Year's resolutions, I hope you'll find some inspiration here, too.
Instead of losing weight
Instead of miserably trying to lose 5, 10, 15 (or more) pounds, simply striving to be healthy might be the way to go in 2016. This could mean drinking more water, opting for a salad once in a while, or taking a walk with your beau after work. Working toward being healthy will feel better than any number on the scale.
Instead of working out
I'll be the first one to admit that I hate the gym. So giving myself a goal to go to the gym once a week is obviously setting myself up for failure. What's more important is how I want to feel after these said trips to the gym. The answer is energized. Instead, maybe it's time to explore new ways to feel energized, like taking up bike riding or planning a kayaking trip.
Instead of stressing over stress
We all want to stress less, but forcing ourselves into being more relaxed can be, well, stressful. Instead, choosing to be hopeful might prove to be more effective. This means instead of getting mad at ourselves every time we freak out a little, maybe we should cut ourselves some slack and just try to be hopeful that everything, no matter how big or small, is going to work itself out.
Instead of swearing off social media
We've all learned by now that too much social media can actually end up making us more isolated from the world. If 2016 has got you feeling like you want to go off the grid and delete all your accounts, maybe you're really looking to feel connected this year. This could mean making an effort to see friends and family more (offline), FaceTiming with your bestie once a month, or joining a Meetup group. Don't worry, you don't have to give up Instagram completely.
Instead of trying to be more like your favorite celeb
If you feel celebs like Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence are your spirit animals (total sidebar: mine is Mindy Kaling, in case you were curious), you may just appreciate the adorable candor each of these ladies possesses. These women aren't afraid of being who they are and neither should you. You're just as awesome as any celeb and don't have to model your life after one. Be real. Be you.
Instead of abandoning reality TV
I love reality TV just as much as the next person — The Bachelor, The Real Housewives, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, sign me up for all of them. What I don't love, though, is that sometimes i find myself hate-watching these shows, finding any opportunity to criticize. After too much reality TV, I just start to feel a little bit like Regina George in Mean Girls, and that's not a good thing. If you're anything like me and have a problem being too much of a critic sometimes, maybe a little more empathy could be what you strive for in 2016. You don't have to give up your favorite shows, but maybe you try to compliment people more or challenge your way of thinking to try to relate more to people.
Instead of skydiving or some other death defying stunt
Sometimes we all need things to get a little shaken up. We look for adventure to feel a little braver and a little stronger. If this sounds like you, resilience might be your word for 2016. This could mean doing things that scare you a little, just to prove that you can do it. Maybe it's volunteering to take the lead on a project at work, or maybe it's finally approaching that cute guy in your kickboxing class. Going after little things like these can go a long way.