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As the year ends, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the new year. New Year’s resolutions have become a tradition for people around the world, and many of us use the practice as an opportunity to reflect on the past and set intentions for the future. Sometimes these resolutions can be a motivating force to help you achieve your goals. And sometimes resolution setting can turn into a source of stress and self-criticism.

This year let’s try to approach setting resolutions with self-care and compassion in mind. In this post, we’ll explore tips and strategies to help you set New Year’s resolutions that nurture your well-being and personal growth.

Tip 1: Take Stock

Before jumping into the process of setting new resolutions, take some time to reflect on the past year with a positive lens. What were your achievements this year? What were some of the challenges you faced and overcame? What are the ways you have grown?

Reflecting on your experiences, especially those you feel energized by, can help you find what you want more of in the coming year.

The woman looking out a window with a thoughtful expression.

Maybe you tried a new sport or dabbled in a hobby that you really enjoyed. After spending a little time thinking about it, you realize that you have some talent or skillset that you feel powerful tapping into. Taking the time to reflect on positive experiences can help you understand what aspects of your experiences were most valuable.

Once you know what is valuable to you, you are better positioned to take advantage of other opportunities that might give you similar rewards. And understanding your deeper motivations and values may strengthen your commitment and give you a sense of purpose to your resolutions.

Tip 2: Prioritize Self-Compassion

Self-compassion can go a long way in helping you develop New Year’s Resolutions that stick. Many of us create resolutions with the aim of improving personally and professionally. It’s admirable to get serious about self-improvement, but sometimes this can turn into an exercise that leaves you with a list of all the ways you’re not meeting certain standards.

We think an effective way to set goals is to balance a healthy amount of ambition with an ample supply of self-compassion. One way to show yourself compassion while developing resolutions is to pay attention to the language you use to frame them.

woman looking in mirror

The way you frame your resolutions can significantly impact how you perceive them and your ability to achieve them. Replace negative and self-critical language with positive, empowering statements. For example, rather than saying, “I need to stop eating junk food,” try, “I want to eat more fruits and vegetables.”

You can also give positive framing to resolutions with affirming language that conveys confidence and intention. Instead of saying “I won’t procrastinate,” say “I will prioritize and manage my time effectively by putting time on my calendar for important tasks.”

Even a small shift in language can foster a compassionate approach to self-improvement and it can make the process of meeting your goals more enjoyable.

Tip 3: Subtract to Add

For some people, setting New Year’s resolutions creates more things to add to an already overwhelming to do list. If you are feeling like you’ve already got too much on your plate, you may benefit from creating New Year’s resolutions that allow you to remove things from your to do list.

This less conventional approach to setting resolutions with the intention to remove or let go of tasks can be a liberating process. Doing less can help you feel more in control of your life and may give you more time to focus on what is most important to you.

Letting go of obligations can also be a particularly challenging process because when we think of our obligations and responsibilities it can be hard to see them as optional. But what would happen if you didn’t do some of the things that feel all burden and no reward? Would anyone be hurt by the omission? Would you die of shame or guilt if you neglected a task?

The fact is that probably nothing catastrophic will happen by cutting out some of the burdensome, but unnecessary obligations that your day may be chock full of. To get started, we recommend testing out this “letting go” strategy by trying to do less of the least important tasks at home. If you can’t cut them out completely, try doing less of them, or delegating them. After a couple weeks, if things are going well, try to remove something else. The goal is to safely cut down on your daily to do list, so you have more time for what’s most rewarding to you.   

Two women drinking coffee and talking

Setting New Year’s resolutions with self-love and compassion can transform this tradition into a source of personal growth, resilience, and joy. Here’s to a new year filled with self-love, compassion, and the empowerment to make your dreams a reality.