So let’s be clear: I think traditional New Year’s resolutions are dumb.
Here’s why: the numbers vary depending on which source you look at, but statistically less than 10 percent of people actually follow through with the ideas they get so excited about come January 1st.
So for the other 90+ percent, what’s the point? For most people, resolutions are just wishful thinking.
For a long time, I just didn’t bother. I figured if I wanted to change something in my life I would just…do it.
And while that works to an extent for me, I nonetheless hit a wall a couple of years ago. I was exhausted and overwhelmed with three small kids, drowning in mental and physical clutter and feeling purposeless. While I didn’t exactly know where I was going, I made a decision at the end of 2015 that I was going to be more intentional with my life:
- I started decluttering my home.
- I turned my hobby blog into a professional one, got certified in stress management coaching and developed a prayer journal and online courses.
- I embraced my purpose in motherhood.
- I started taking better care of myself and embraced biblical rest.
- I started praying powerfully and with purpose.
- I learned how to control my daily schedule rather than letting it control me.
And it all started with a process called goal-setting. A.k.a New Year’s Resolutions—but the kind that I can follow through with because I’m working on them year-round.
So while I still think that New Year’s resolutions as I used to understand them are dumb, when you do them right, they can be incredibly effective and life-changing.
Related: How Moms Can Set Meaningful Goals
I’ve learned a lot about this process of the last several years. There’s a lot of great advice out there, but if I do have one nugget of wisdom to offer about resolutions it’s this:
While the rest of the world is wrapped up in being skinny and self-improvement and getting rich, imagine if you chose to do something a little different?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
To rest is to be faithful. To stop and let God fill in the gaps. To trust the Spirit’s guidance. To be content with less…and to feel fuller in the process.
Sound good? Then check out these alternative New Year’s resolution ideas anchored in rest that you can get excited about.
10 Restful New Year’s Resolution Ideas
1. Follow the Sabbath
It’s an ancient practice: set aside a 24-hour period each week to REST. Up until pretty recently, I had never done this.
But now, I can’t imagine my life without it. From Saturday evening to Sunday evening each week, I let go.
I don’t check my social media or email. I don’t do any household or work projects, even when I know there’s stuff to get done. Instead, I spend time with those I love, I worship and I relax. And I face each week refreshed.
2. Sleep More
Again, up until recently, my mentality was to sleep the minimal amount without feeling completely wrecked each day, to maximize the amount of time I had to get stuff done.
It’s a terrible way to live. I had to adjust my morning and evening routines, but now I regularly get the 8.5 hours a night I need. And of course, I’m way more productive.
Give yourself permission to get more sleep. Go to bed (perhaps earlier) at the same time each night after a relaxing evening routine. Take short power naps during seasons when your nighttime sleep is interrupted. Ask for help taking care of the kids wen you’re feeling run down.
3. Create Meaningful Memories
One thing I have wanted to grow in is being more mentally present with my husband and kids. I want us to look back with memories full of meaning and love.
There are many ways you can approach this. What has worked well for me is getting one-on-one time with one of my kids each week, as well as a date of some kind with my husband every week. I also try to take photos weekly—in everyday life, not just the special occasions. I’ve worked hard to stay on top of my digital photos, which means sorting and editing then within a week of taking them. This makes it much less overwhelming to organize them (and Google Photos is awesome for this!)
4. Cultivate Your Friendships
This is another area I would like to grow in personally. I have great friends, but I want to take those relationships deeper. We’ve been experimenting with the small groups format in our church, so I’m hoping and praying that is how I can work on this.
I know it’s tough for many of us in the season of motherhood because we lack the time. If that’s the case with you, I encourage you to be creative with this resolution.
Be bold and initiate (that other mom is probably lonely too). When you can’t meet, talk on the phone. You might be surprised just how little extra time those friendships can take if you simply take the effort to invest in them.
5. Enrich Your Prayer Life
In the past, this has been a weakness but now I’m proud to say and think is becoming a strength. Over the last couple of years, I have gotten more disciplined and focused and have seen a lot of the fruit.
For me, it took some digging and journaling to get there. Can I suggest starting with this prayer journal?
6. Say No to Your Phone
I think I’m pretty conscious about this, and still, I find myself getting sucked into checking my notifications whenever I get a free second.
Some ways to combat this include setting up screen-free times into your schedule as well as only allowing yourself to check notifications at specific times of the day. Otherwise, it’s all too tempting!
7. Spend Time in Nature
There’s something spiritual about the sky, the sea, the mountains, the fields. As someone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now lives in the Midwest, I can find my present opportunities…lacking. But that just means I’m not looking hard enough.
Studies show that being in nature is good for your mental and physical health. So let’s get out there regularly and make it a priority!
Brainstorm some ways you can enjoy nature, whether it’s sitting out on your back deck every day, taking a long walk once a week, or planning a trip out into the wilderness.
8. Explore Healthy Food You LOVE
Weight loss is on the brain for many people at this time of year, and that’s necessarily not a bad thing…but we can go about it the wrong way.
I find that I’m healthiest when I’m not thinking in terms of how I’m limiting myself but rather embracing what I love.
I finally admitted to myself recently that I don’t love salad. Plus no one else in my family likes it. I’ll eat it because I know it’s good for me and that’s enough of a motivator…but I’m a lot more excited about a plethora of other vegetable-rich dishes that I’ve learned how to make in the past year. So rather than forcing myself to limit my food to something I’m not wild about, our family is getting adventurous with healthy, whole foods we love and can be thankful for. See the difference?
What nourishing food can you get excited about discovering in the coming months?
9. Find a Mentor
There’s a phrase that has stuck with me through the years: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Sometimes you don’t even know what you are doing right or wrong unless you get some perspective.
If you’re feeling stuck in any area of your life, why stay in a rut if the strategies you’re using aren’t working? Get some help: a coach, an advisor, an accountability buddy, a counselor, whatever. It’s biblical and it helps.
10. Practice Gratitude
This is almost too cliché nowadays but I’m gonna write it anyway. Gratitude is proven to change the way you think. Make it stick by writing it down daily.
Okay friends, now it’s your turn: what restful New Year’s Resolutions ideas would you add to the list? And which ones do you want to try this year?
If you want some guidance putting those goals into practice, be sure to check this the mini goal-setting workbook I offer in my free resources collection: