HALF MOON BAY, Calif., January 2, 2012—A new year seems to beg for more than just a different number or calendar on your wall. But with so many expectations riding on resolutions, they can seem more like tasks and not positive opportunities for change.
New Year’s resolutions never worked for me. Either the list would be forgotten by February, or I’d end up meeting half the goals and wondering why I bothered with the other items I thought were so important at the end of December the year before. But as 2011 drew to a close, I considered using two promising ways to mark change in 2012.
One is from yoga instructor and cancer survivor Amy Annis, in Athleta’s Chi blog. Her focus on changing resolutions to possibilities makes your list for motivation not only more positive, but also more forgiving. Life isn’t a rule locked in stone—it’s constantly changing. If something happens during the year (like a significant health change) to make one possibility not work out, it can be saved for the next year without punishing yourself for being a slacker.
It’s also an opportunity to think more about what you’d like to do, rather than what you think you should do. If you want to slowly morph your love for running into becoming a part-time running coach, think of where you’d like to be by the end of the year and let your catalyst help you move forward through the months.
Or, perhaps, you’ve always wanted to do something on your vacation that’s more adventurous than merely unwinding on the beach. Consider the experiences that say “adventure” to you, choose a destination that has them all, and start your vacation planning.
Another different option for resolutions is from a friend, writer JoAnna Haugen. Her annual 100 Challenge got my attention a couple of years ago, when she started it. In addition to having a life list (a much better name for a bucket list, in my opinion), she focuses on doing 100 new things each year.
Some of those new things may be life-changing experiences, but others may be small things that she’s never done before. Sitting next to JoAnna on a flight from Loreto in Baja California to Los Angeles early in 2011, I watched her mark new experiences from our trip in her 100 Challenge list (they’re numbers 9 through 12, if you check the list). Instead of a possibly daunting order of resolutions, she’s made new experiences a celebration.
We’ve all got our favorite ways for getting the best out of ourselves, but every once in a while, we need to change things up and try something new. This year, I’m combining both of these ideas to consider adventurous possibilities, and will keep a list to celebrate those new experiences. I’ll even start today, with a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) adventure in Monterey Bay. You may not be able to join me in person, but you can employ elements of these alternatives to New Year’s resolutions yourself.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill and her husband are avid kayakers and own Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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