“I absolutely hate New Year. It makes me think about all the resolutions I know I’ll make and never keep. It just makes me feel like such a loser,” says my type-A advertising client. “I just feel like I set myself up for failure for the whole year,” she laments.
“I hear you,” I say to her. “I wish people would just set more constructive intentions for themselves and accept that they are human and things don’t always work out the way they might want them to,” I tell her. “I look at resolutions very differently and I encourage my clients to do the same…”
Don’t make a resolution, just be resolute to look at your life differently.
Being resolute about living a better life is much more logical and attainable. Here are 20 small changes you can make this year that will change your life in ways you could never imagine.
- Pay attention to your life, it’s trying to tell you something.
We all have patterns in our lives and they show up over and over again. The only problem is we don’t always catch them. If a situation or personality type is showing up again, it’s the universe’s way of giving you another opportunity to work through the same issue—this time, differently. Patterns are meant to be worked through, not repeated. So if it’s showing up again, you have to change your approach or it’ll never go away.
- Stop hitting your head on the wall, it doesn’t move the wall—it just gives you a headache.
We are all like “mice on a wheel,” we keep repeating our patterns over and over again—it’s like repeatedly hitting your head on the wall—but doing that doesn’t move the wall, it just gives you a headache. In many cases, you can walk around the wall to get to the other side, but we never stop and think to find alternative pathways. When you stop complicating your life, it usually gets easier.
- Be uncomfortable with uncertainty, it’s better than being certain you are in the wrong place.
Periods of uncertainty give rise to greatness. Think about it—certainty is already decided for you, but uncertainty can provide you with anything. Don’t be afraid of the unknown—it has the potential to be anything and everything you could ever dream it to be.
- Just because it might be true, doesn’t mean it has to become your truth.
You don’t have to live your past. If something isn’t serving you, don’t pack it up and carry it forward into the rest of your life. Just because it was part of your past doesn’t mean it has to become part of your destiny. Let it go.
- Don’t get tripped up over the fall, learn how to make a dance out of it.
Some of the best inventions and creations came out of mistakes. Be open to chaos. Don’t lament your falls, learn how to land more gracefully, and show the world you intended to do it.
- Recognize that just because a chapter of your life is over, that doesn’t mean you’re finished with it.
Make sure you have closure. Just because it’s over doesn’t mean you’re free of it. If you’re still emotional over it, you’re still attached to it and it still has control over you. Learn to leave people and situations with a degree of love so they no longer have control over you.
- Recognize that you’re not always in control of getting knocked down, but you’re always in control over whether you stay or go.
Sitting on the ground and crying in the rain only gets you wet. Why not get up and run for shelter? If you get up and move and change something, you have half a chance of staying dry; if you stay on the ground, it’s certain you’ll get wet.
- Recognize that a bad hand always makes you a better player.
Don’t lament a bad hand. We all get dealt a band hand of cards from time to time. In life, you’re not looking for a great hand, you’re looking to become a better player and it takes working though the tough hands to learn the ultimate strategy for success.
- Focusing on what is keeps you stuck there, focusing on where you want to be brings you there.
If you want your life to be different to the way it is, stop focusing on what is right in front of you and put your energy into what you want to create. You get what you think about whether you want it or not, so if it isn’t serving you, do not give it any attention and watch it slowly fade out of your existence.
- Stop chasing the wrong things and give the right things a chance to catch up with you.
We make the mistake of chasing relationships and jobs that are so wrong for us and then wonder why our lives hold no joy. Learn to let go of what is not working for you so you can create the space to find what will. You can’t have both.
- Happiness isn’t something you get, it’s something you create.
We are always waiting for something outside of us to make us happy, but it doesn’t work that way. Happiness is an inside job. It’s a state of being, not a state of having. When you learn to look for the happiness within and learn to find any reason at all to be happy, you’ll have every reason to be happy.
- Sweeping issues under the carpet doesn’t make them go away, it just makes you trip over them.
Communication is everything. A lack of communication in relationships leaves room for misunderstanding. If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t go away—it only gets bigger. Speak up or no one will ever hear you.
- If your dance partner keeps stepping on your toes, they are not a good partner for you.
Don’t try and make a person into the version of who you think they should be. Let people be who they are and if that doesn’t work for you, find more positive people to fill your life.
- The devil you know is way worse than the one you don’t.
Don’t be afraid of making change. You can never make a mistake. It doesn’t matter what direction you choose in life—if it doesn’t make you happy, choose again. The only mistake you could ever make is to decide to stay stuck in a place that is making you unhappy. In life, all we have are our choices, so choose wisely.
- A belief is just a thought you continue to think—if it isn’t serving you, change what you think.
You are in control of your thoughts. Your thoughts are not in control of you. So if a thought is not making you happy, change it until it does.
- Ending relationships doesn’t make you a failure, it means you’ve succeeded in creating a better life for yourself.
Staying in any relationship—whether a friendship or a marriage—that is not working is toxic for everyone involved. No one wins when two people are making each other unhappy.
- If you don’t want to be stepped on, take your doormat off the front step.
If you don’t want people walking all over you, set better boundaries. After all, how can you be upset with someone if they’ve crossed a boundary of yours when you’ve never even set one? Let them brush their feet off on someone else.
- You cannot negotiate with crazy, it makes you just as crazy.
Never expect people to be other than who they are and you’ll never be disappointed. Who’s crazier—the person across from you whose making no sense at all or you for trying to convince them otherwise? Walk away.
- Some things leave your life because they are not right for you. Be strong. Don’t chase them.
Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. If something or someone leaves your hands it’s because it wasn’t right for you at this stage of your life. If it’s in your past, it’s in your past for a reason. If it was meant to be part of your now it would be standing right in front of you and if it’s meant to be part of your future, it’ll come find you when it’s time. Let go.
- Don’t jump into the hole with others, learn to throw them a ladder.
You cannot fix people—you cannot save them. It’s not your job. People have to want to change themselves. Jumping in the hole with a person you feel is in trouble only leaves you both stranded. Stay out in the sunshine and throw them a lifeline—it’ll teach them to be a better climber.
Don’t let this year be like every other one. Ask for better for yourself this year—start it off with a different intention. Don’t waste your time making a resolution you won’t stick to, resolve to create a better life for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Based in New York City, Donnalynn is the Author of “Life Lessons, Everything You Ever Wished You Had Learned in Kindergarten.” She is also a Certified Intuitive Life Coach (ethereal-wellness.com), Inspirational Blogger (etherealwellness.wordpress.com), Writer, Speaker and Yoga Teacher. Her work has been featured in Glamour, the iHeart Radio Network, Thought Catalog and Princeton Television. You can follower her on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ . Read Donnalynn’s column for Observer.