An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

Why are so many of us averse to creating New Year’s Resolutions? The truth is, the whole process is filled with guilt and shame about who we are, and what we’re doing with our lives. From the outset, we reflect on what’s wrong and what we need to change. Essentially, what leaves you feeling not good enough? Then we announce our vulnerabilities to the world, by stating our New Year’s Resolutions – ouch! We make promises to be better in the coming year. With the magic of the New Year and the promise of a fresh start, we’re all in! 

Traditionally, New Year’s Resolutions are flawed by being too extreme and ridgid, but hey, when we’ve focused on our flaws and waded in that discomfort, we’re often eager to leave that feeling behind as quickly as possible. So we enter the New Year with high expectations for ourselves, and a hopeful attitude that we’re on the right track towards self-improvement.

This hopefulness clouds the underlying shame we’re feeling, so we are able to forget about this for the time being. We all know what happens with New Year’s Resolutions though… in most cases they don’t work out.

Either we give-up completely, or we fall short of our own expectations. By the end of it, not only do we feel defeated when we’re stuck being our same “flawed” selves, but we’re also hard on ourselves for not keeping our promise to change. We must be weak, uncommitted, and undisciplined. 

Don’t forget all the people you shared your resolutions with, you also have to announce your failure when you’re asked about your progress. It’s no wonder so many people choose not to make New Year’s Resolutions!

New Years Resoultion

I’m purposefully using aggressive, hurtful language, because I believe it evokes how many of us feel about the push-pull relationship with ourselves and our desire to be better, that’s amplified by New Year’s Resolutions. 

As a therapist, it would be disingenuous if I did not however say that I believe meaningful and fulfilling change is very possible, and that I encourage it in my clients. So what’s the solution? How do we make New Year’s Resolutions that don’t contribute to further feelings of shame, but support us to grow into our best selves? Well, I’m glad you asked!


I like to start with intentions – Why are you do this and what do you hope to achieve?

This time of the year, there are common themes of New Year’s resolutions that come with a lot of a lot of pressure and beliefs that these are the things we “should” be striving towards. But pause for a moment and ask yourself what you truly believe would enrich your life. What would a happier, fuller life look like? What would you be doing?

New Years Resolution 3

Take this as an opportunity to step away from the overdone resolutions, and try something new that could add more moments of joy. Maybe that means practicing being more present with your partner and looks like putting your phone away during dinner and scheduling a regular date night, or learning a new skill and looks like taking books out at the library on this skill or attending a workshop or class. Whatever your New Year’s resolution, take a moment to reflect before moving forward.


It may sound counter-intuitive, but when you want to change anything, you first have to start with acceptance for where you currently are. Acceptance does not have to mean that you’re satisfied with the way things are. However, rather than fighting against yourself and the way you wish things could be, acceptance allows you to start on flat ground. Acceptance leaves you with more clarity and energy to move forward.


Hint: You’re not perfect, and this won’t go perfectly.

Any time we work towards something, we’re bound to make mistakes. However, the mistakes do not signify failure, they’re stumbling blocks that we learn from. For many, when they feel off track from their New Year’s resolutions, they begin to feel like they are the failure, that they are flawed or not committed enough.

On the other side of this is the part of yourself that is understanding of the little blimps along the way, and forgives yourself for it. Self-compassion means being gentle with yourself, while encouraging yourself to keep going in a kind and encouraging way. Along this journey towards reaching your goals, there will be things that interfere and waiver your investment in your goals. Be kind, and gently redirect yourself back to your goals.

New Years Resolution 2


Change from wanting to be better than you are, and think of it as “How can I show myself more love this year?” Perhaps that means in engaging in similar activities, but how you engage will be different. Yes, you may decide to hit the gym more often, but you’ll come in with the intention of caring for your body, doing something that promotes your health and improves your mental health.

Additionally, maybe instead of torturing yourself with an activity that you dislike but feel you must do in order to pursue your New Year’s Resolution “right”, you’ll choose something that feels more caring, challenging in a fun way, and promotes pride in yourself as you progress. For you, that may be yoga instead of HIIT training, or joining a running group to make new friends. 

Resolution to connect more intimately with your partner in 2020??

Start with our Gottman Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, couples workshop. 


Lastly, recognize that sustainable change happens gradually over time. While you may have high hopes for the outcome, the journey should also be celebrated. We tend to get stuck in the black and white of change, “Am I there yet or not?” If this goal is really worth it, you’ll be able to find some joy or pride in the gradual progression. Enjoy the journey, and put less focus on the ultimate outcome. Embrace the moments, days, weeks and months towards your goal!

Simple, low-intensity exercise such as yoga helps beat the winter blues.

Here’s to a happy new year and new decade! Here’s to being gentle with ourselves and investing in our happiness. To breaking old traditions that don’t work for us, and creating new traditions that allow us to meet our goals with confidence. 

HAPPY 2020!!

Meredith MacKenzie

My name is Meredith MacKenzie and I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor and the owner of Parallel Wellness. I specializing in working with children, adolescents and adults. Together, we work towards creating confidence with emotional freedom, self-acceptance and connections within their relationships. 

Learn more about Meredith on the Parallel Wellness Youtube Channel and her page.

Meredith MacKenzie - Parallel Wellness - Counselling Burnaby BC
New Year's Resolutions Pinterest

Hey there!!

I'm Meredith MacKenzie, the founder of Parallel Wellness and a Registered Clinical Counsellor. Simply put, I love to talk about psychology, emotions and all the things that make us human. My goal for this blog is to share information, resources and a fresh perspective on what brings clients to our practice.

So you want to know more??

download free guide


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Hey there!!

I'm Meredith MacKenzie, the founder of Parallel Wellness and a Registered Clinical Counsellor. Simply put, I love to talk about psychology, emotions and all the things that make us human. My goal for this blog is to share information, resources and a fresh perspective on what brings clients to our practice.

So you want to know more??

download free guide