What is it about New Year’s resolutions that tends to toss even the most well-intentioned, improvement-focused people into a whirlwind of failure and self-doubt? We think it has everything to do with the word resolution. The word — and the concept in and of itself — feels so rigid and finite. Instead, we’re flipping the script and rewriting the rules by setting New Year’s commitments, not resolutions, for 2021. From committing to eating healthier to checking in on our loved ones more often, we’re looking at 2021 as a chance to be a better person with the help of small but impactful changes.
Let’s face it: 2020 was tough. With the COVID-19 pandemic throwing everything out of whack, it’s no surprise that many of us are suffering from feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness. This year more than ever, it’s crucial that we go easy on ourselves and don’t set ourselves up to fail. Statistically speaking, 80 percent of people fail at their New Year’s resolutions each year, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you set out to complete a goal and don’t make it to the finish line. It happens to pretty much everyone! But remember that these are commitments, not resolutions, and commitments are easier to follow.
Great Things to Commit to in 2021
Here are some of our favorite commitment ideas to help you grow into a better, stronger, healthier person in the New Year without any lingering feelings of failure.
1. Setting Boundaries — This is your year to set boundaries for yourself and others, as it can help you feel happier, more self-confident and more in control of your life. Set boundaries with friends, family and work so that you feel like you have plenty of free time to do the things you want to do.
2. Eating Cleaner — No calorie limitations, no food restrictions. Just a little bit of a dietary spruce-up! Committing to eating cleaner can take many forms, from following a low-FODMAP meal plan in order to quell stomach issues (this is pretty simple with a low-FODMAP meal delivery service) to cutting out sugary drinks. There’s no right or wrong way to commit to this one.
3. Keeping an Open Mind — Everyone occasionally gets stuck in a rut of music, movies, clothes, friends, food, etc., but digging your way out is a great way to grow into a better and more relatable person overall. Commit to being open to anything in 2021 and see what avenues open up for you.
4. Supporting Friends — Commit to looking at your friendships as fundamental to your happiness, just like drinking plenty of water and getting enough exercise. Provide support to friends and loved ones just as much as they provide support to you. Relationships with others should never be one-sided, so make sure you’re holding up your end of the bargain and providing plenty of support. Oh yeah, and remember that it’s just as important to set boundaries with friends who don’t hold up theirs.
5. Going Outside — Fresh air is an important piece of the health and wellness puzzle, so don’t brush it off. In fact, studies show that spending time outside can help us manage feelings of depression and anxiety. It doesn’t hurt that outdoor time is often coupled with things that bring us great joy, such as sports, exercise and time spent with family and pets.
6. Less Screen Time — By screen time, we mean the kind that tends to contribute to feelings of anxiety and worry (we’re looking at you, social media and news apps). It’s OK to spend time with your device as long as it’s helping you in healthy ways. Just be aware of the way certain apps make you feel.
7. Staying Active — For some of us, it can be helpful to set a concrete goal, such as hitting a certain number of steps each day. For others, it’s better to simply commit to the general idea of staying active. Small things like taking more walks and parking far from the entryway can really add up over time.
8. Being Kinder to the Earth — This is a really important one because not only does it affect you personally, it affects the whole world. Commit to making small changes to make your life more eco-friendly, such as being more rigid about recycling and swapping out energy-hogging light bulbs with new LEDs.
9. Maintaining Your Stuff — As modern-day human beings, we tend to have a lot of stuff. For so many of us, that physical stuff translates into mental clutter and worry, primarily because it all requires care and maintenance. Get on a good maintenance schedule for your space, clothes, car, etc. and, if you’re feeling too overwhelmed by everything, consider going minimalist.
10. Laughing More — Don’t fall into the trap of taking yourself or your work too seriously. Finding pockets in the day to laugh can do wonders for your overall morale and self-esteem. This can be easily achieved by spending time with friends, but there’s plenty of funny stuff to watch on TV and YouTube, too.
11. Doing What’s Right — In 2020, we were faced with so many moral tests, from the way we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to how we kept calm during the midst of seemingly endless political upheaval. In 2021, stay committed to doing the right thing no matter what, whether it’s personal, political or both.
12. Going Easy on Yourself — Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet any certain goal. This is all about changing the way you think in the long run, not making sweeping changes all at once.
Why Commitments Are Better Than Resolutions
The truth is that, while they both bring the same result — a better you — commitments are better than resolutions because they’re more attainable, plain and simple. They’re the overarching goals you not only want to reach, but to maintain for years to come. Give it a try this year and see how making commitments to yourself can feel more approachable and rewarding than rigid resolutions.