Forget New Year’s Resolutions & Create Your Happiest Year Yet

Updated: Apr 3

The new year is finally here and you couldn’t be happier! You’re raring to go and fired up with a whole list of New Year’s resolutions!

Bring on the weight loss, workouts, travel, and getting organized, you say, exuberantly—apps, calendars, agendas, highlighters, and sticky pads in hand!

But, did you know that according to a University of Scranton study less than 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions each year?

In fact, research by Strava shows that most people quit their annual commitment to themselves on January 19. The day has even been given a notorious moniker—Quitters Day!

Yikes! I certainly don’t want to celebrate that holiday!

Abandoning our resolutions isn't something any of us want to do because they represent our commitment to ourselves and what we want to achieve and experience in the coming year.

With that in mind, what if we took a more happiness-inducing approach? Would you be up for that?

Great! Now toss out your new year's resolutions and get ready to create your happiest year yet!

Now that you have a clean slate, we're going to create your 2021 happiness-inducing habits, experiences, community, fun, and dreams!

1. Create Habits

If you think about it, what helps us achieve our goals is consistent action. Habits are exactly that—consistent action that has become involuntary.

Let’s say that you want to save $40,000 to buy a home or you want to lose 15 pounds. If you save money when you remember or go to the gym when you can, achieving either of those goals isn’t going to become more challenging.

But, if you create the habit of saving money every week—and even automating that habit with automatic withdrawals, it becomes involuntary and effortless. The next thing you know, you'll have achieved your goal!

Be sure to celebrate your accomplishments along the way!

To lose 15 pounds, you know you have to burn more calories than you consume and eat well. You could start with a plan on how you could go to the gym whenever you get a chance. Or, you could go to the gym at 8 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—non-negotiable.

Then you could subscribe to an exercise app that includes daily reminders, goal trackers, music, etc. Or, you could subscribe to WW—that’s one of the apps that I use—which incorporates food, points, fitness tracking, and rewards points. I also use Map My Run and I recently started using Strava.

Bonus Tip: Automate your habits whenever possible

Habit Anchors

If you follow my blog, you know that I created the Happiness Framework for the 7 Happiness Habits For A Super Happy Life. One of my happiness habits is meditation.

A couple of years ago, I set the goal to meditate daily but I kept forgetting to do so even though it was in my calendar, my agenda, and I had set up a reminder on my phone! I just completely ignored them.

It wasn’t a conscious action. It was unconscious because I already had other habitsconsistent action that had become involuntary—in place.

I realized that to start and ingrain this habit, I had to create what I called a habit anchor based on an existing habit. So, being of Spanish and Italian ancestry, there are two things I love to do daily and would never forget to do...NO MATTER WHAT...and that’s to have dinner and drink coffee!

With that in mind, I used the time between setting up the coffee machine for my after-dinner coffee as my anchor for my meditation habit.

Every day after dinner, I put the grounds in the machine, set the pot or cup in place, and then I sit down for my meditation with the thoughts of my after-meditation American brimming in my mind just before I settle into my meditation cushion and dive into bliss.

What habits can you create? Is there a way you can automate them? Can you create a habit anchor?

2. Experiences

While the past year may have been challenging for many to create experiences, there are still many happiness-inducing experiences we can create for ourselves even while following social distancing and safety guidelines.

I look at experiences as being either mostly big or mini opportunities to create happiness. The big experiences may take more planning while the mini ones can be more spontaneous and be incorporated into your everyday life. The goal of both is to create happy moments and memories!

Why not whip out your bucket list and see what’s on there that you could safely experience this year? Or, what kind of simple or closer-to-home, mini, and more spontaneous experiences would enrich your life and your spirit?

A couple of years ago, I took an amazing outdoorsy trip to Nevada. The itinerary was developed for me by someone else which was great because I don’t think I would’ve chosen the experiences they chose for me.

I likely would’ve only booked shows, musicals, and food and wine-related activities.

Even though the trip included a super cool Cirque du Soleil show, a food tour, and a few concerts, it also included riding dune buggies in the desert, taking an air tour over the Grand Canyon, hiking at Red Rock, and zip-lining over the Mojave Desert, among other things. (That's me second from the left in the pic!)

It. Was. Amazing.

It’s truly a happiness-inducing experience I will never forget!

On the other end of the spectrum, is something as simple as playing pickleball with my mom in her backyard when I stop by for a visit. We’re both pretty physically active and in shape but apparently very uncoordinated when it comes to pickleball!

We spend most of our time laughing and more than once the dog has come out of nowhere and taken off with the ball—unabashedly goading us to try and catch him to get the ball. Good thing the set comes with four balls!

While super simple, playing pickleball with my mom has become a great happiness-inducing experience and one I will never forget.

What kind of big and mini happiness-inducing experiences can you create this year?

3. Community

If you’ve read my article, The Happiness Framework: 7 Happiness Habits for A Super Happy Life, you know that one of the longest studies on the topic revealed that one of the most important keys to happiness is social engagement.

You’ll see it discussed as love and/or social connections/engagement, community, depending on the article you read, but the essence is the same... Love and social connections in your life make for increased happiness.

Creating community is something that can be challenging. For some people, it became even more so after the pandemic.

One of the best ways to create community and give back at the same time (see Happiness Habit # 3) is to volunteer to do something you will love to do.

For example, if you love dogs, you could volunteer to walk dogs at your local animal shelter. Or, if you love to cook, perhaps you could volunteer at a local soup kitchen.

You could also teach or take virtual classes, create a walking (socially distanced) group, or throw your hat in the ring to volunteer for whatever is needed at your local non-profit.

In New York, I was quite active taking writing classes, running with a group, and part of a networking group for women business owners among other things. Now that I’ll be splitting my time between New York and Miami, I’ll be taking similar steps in South Florida.

4. Fun

Injecting fun into our lives in 2021 will make for a much happier year than one without as much fun—wouldn’t it?

But, how many times have you said to yourself or a friend or partner, it would be fun to do something and then immediately followed it with a version of, “but I just don’t have time for that!”

Make a commitment to creating fun in 2021. Don’t leave it up to chance.

Plus, creating fun can be oodles of fun!

It doesn’t have to be a big production or expensive. In fact, you can have fun by yourself dancing to music you love, being goofy with your dog, going skydiving/roller skating/sailing, or baking cookies with oldies playing in the background.

If you have a partner, kids, or family, you can create even more fun moments like learning to skateboard together, having a picnic at a nearby beach with food each of you made, decorating cupcakes together while you sing songs at full throttle, or taking a drive to a nearby town you’ve always wanted to visit but never made time to do so.

What fun activities can you plan for this year—this month, this weekend?!?

5. Your Dreams

2021 is the perfect year to reevaluate your dreams, reflect, and see if—after what we’ve all been through in 2020--if you still want the same things you did one year ago.

Perhaps you realized that wanted to make your side hustle your full-time business, or that you wanted to make your hobby into a side hustle, or like me, that you wanted to be closer to family.

Start from scratch. It’s a new decade. A new beginning. An opportunity to create anew. A new you!

What new life dreams will you create for yourself in 2021?

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