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Rethinking Resolutions: 9 Ways to Map Out 2016 that Actually Inspire You

bubbles, central park, nyc

Happy 2016 everyone! I hope it’s a very nourishing new year for you and your family.

Today, I’m sharing different ways we can pause and map out our 2016. Because there are other options for thinking through the year outside of writing resolutions and measurable goals. There are other options besides setting punitive resolutions (i.e., doing things we think we “should” do but aren’t that excited about; doing things that feel a lot like restriction or deprivation or just “blah”).

Instead, we can feel inspired and uplifted. Instead, we can lead from what feels right and exciting from deep within ourselves.

In other words, we don’t need to think of resolutions as have-tos or shoulds. We don’t have to think of resolutions as synonyms for “discipline” and “mandatory” and “control” and “restraint.” In fact, we don’t need to think of resolutions at all.

Here are some ideas for mapping out 2016 on your own terms. Because, at the end of the day, it’s really up to you.

  1. Create a list of what you want your days to smell, sound, look and taste like. Actually write out the scents. I’d like my days to smell like sugar cookie candles, freshly brewed coffee, sunscreen and lavender. Write out the tastes and flavors. I’d like my days to taste like fragrant strawberries, raspberry tea and buttermilk biscuits. Write out the sights. I’d like my days to look like sand between my toes and dirt in my hair (from running around outside and working on the yard). I’d like to see sunsets, big trees and landscapes that look like paintings. Don’t censor yourself. Just write anything that comes to mind. Maybe you don’t even have a beach nearby, but the words “sand between my toes” could signify small adventures and being outside more. Maybe buttermilk biscuits signify cooking from scratch and really savoring each bite. I think starting with our senses can be really informative (and fun!).
  2. Create a collage, picking images that speak to how you’d like this brand new year to look and feel. You might look through magazines or print out online images. Or you might cut up greeting cards or your favorite fabrics.
  3. Dream up an ideal day in your life. Where do you go? What do you do? Who do you hang out with? What do you wear? How do you get there? What do you eat? Then think about how you can translate that into today and right now. How can you translate that into every day, not just the weekends?
  4. You are the author of your life. What kind of story would you like to write?
  5. Create your own criteria for saying yes and for saying no to requests, commitments, events, situations. That is, list out what something has to include in order for you to say yes to it (and what it might violate or exclude for saying no). It feels right. It fulfills one of my priorities. It’s fun. It’s interesting. It’s challenging, and I’d like to challenge myself right now. The next time an opportunity or question arises, run it by your criteria. This isn’t about being strict or rigid. Rather it’s about being intentional and making sure that the things that you say yes to are really what you want to say yes to.
  6. Journal your response to these questions: What does joy feel like in my bones? In my brain? In my heart and soul?
  7. Journal your response to this question: What excites me? You can even make a list of 10 or 20 or even 50 things that excite you. And remember that you can interpret this in any way you like.
  8. Pick a theme for the year. Maybe it’s celebration or family or faith or fulfillment or curiosity or compassion (both for yourself and for others). Your theme might come directly from your values or from how you’d like the year to feel. Think of your theme as a theme of a book. It is a unifying, underlying, universal message that permeates the story of your entire year. Again, when you think of your theme, think of what excites and inspires you. Try different words on for size. You might play with one word this week and see how it feels.
  9. Journal your response to this question: How do I want to spend my life on this earth?

If you’d like, take the weekend and next week to try any (or many) of these ideas. Give yourself time to really think about what you need, what you like and what you want. There’s no rush. There’s no pressure. Do what feels true for you. Do what makes you feel excited and inspired to be alive.

Rethinking Resolutions: 9 Ways to Map Out 2016 that Actually Inspire You

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). Rethinking Resolutions: 9 Ways to Map Out 2016 that Actually Inspire You. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 17, 2018, from


Last updated: 2 Jan 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Jan 2016
Published on All rights reserved.