4 Family-Focused Alternatives to a Typical New Year’s Resolution

Last year, my New Year’s resolution wasn’t just one thing. I was proud of myself for doing something new and set monthly intentions instead. January was “declutter”; February was” no-spend”; March was “social media break”; and April was “read two full books.” I thought sharing my progress on social media would keep me accountable.

I did a killer job decluttering in January. Marie Kondo’s Netflix show Tidying Up had just been released, so it was top of mind and easier to accomplish when winter weather, including multiple snow days, kept us indoors. I purged and donated a bunch of old toys and clothes, bought a bunch of organizational merch from Target, and did a digital declutter by downloading Unroll.me to take control of my exploding email inbox, and set roles and limits for my social media use (goodbye, Snapchat). But life happens, and I honestly couldn’t tell you what my intentions were after April because I didn’t capture them anywhere except in an Instagram story I didn’t save.

So like most resolutions, it didn’t stick.

This year, I sought out to find some new ideas where my family (and some old-school documentation) could help keep me accountable, rather than relying on social media for the job. Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolution alternatives that can include the whole family.


1. Set a Family Goal (or Goals) Together

One of my hardest adjustments to marriage was when my husband and I combined our finances. Our priorities weren’t always aligned, and I may or may not have had a shopping problem (I mean, my office was walkable to Michigan Ave in Chicago). But when we decided we wanted to buy our first home, we had a shared goal we could work toward together.

One of the most important next steps after setting a goal is, of course, making a plan for how to reach it. In the case of my husband and me saving for our first home, we met with a financial planner to help us understand the reality of what we’d need to save. I cut out my lunch break shopping trips, we packed our lunches every day, and we started a budget spreadsheet to help us reach our goal.

It’s also been proven people are more likely to support what they help create. And this can certainly carry over to our kids. Try to involve them in the creation of goals for your family for the upcoming year. For example, growing up, my husband’s family had a giant glass jug in their living room to collect loose change. The whole family could see it, contributed to it, and knew when it was full, it meant a family vacation to Disney World. Everyone felt some pride, and a little extra excitement, when they broke the jug knowing they’d reached the goal together. And goals don’t have to be financial-based. Setting a goal like “reducing our family’s plastic waste” can certainly get the kids contributing and caring about meeting the goal too.



2. Make a Vision Board

One of our editors wrote an entire piece about vision boards as the new New Year’s resolutions, and I love the concept (and not just because collages and crafting get me all amped up). She talks about making sure your heart and mind are aligned on the same goal and gives a guide in creating your own. I think there’s something powerful in turning ideas into something tangible. They stop swirling around your head and being reminded of them daily helps them stick.


3. Articulate Your Family Values or “Brand”

My background is in marketing, and one simple tool we often use with new clients helps distill their brand down to three to five descriptors that are inherently true about their organization or product. This tool can also be applied to families. If your kids are old enough, get them in on the fun. Do a brainstorm together to get each other thinking about what makes your family unique. To help make it tangible, write words down on Post-It notes, stick them to a wall, and start filtering them down to a few key descriptors for your family. Here are some thought-starter questions.

  • What makes your family special?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What brings you the most joy?
  • What is your favorite thing we’ve done as a family?
  • What’s your favorite tradition?

Once you have your list of words or phrases, keep them somewhere visible. These can be used as a reminder and a filter as you evaluate plans, activities, big purchases, and more throughout the year to make sure your family is staying true to what you agree is most important.


Source: @mylivedinhouse via #sharetheeverymom


4. Take Stock of Your Blessings and Aspirations

A friend of mine recently started classes for an MBA program. One of the first exercises was to rate the satisfaction for various parts of your life on a 1 to 10 point scale. The exercise was so powerful as he realized he rated his career high but his personal life low. It was time to reprioritize and relook at what success really means.

Reframing success can be tough. With social media sharing the highlights of everyone’s life, it’s easy to fall down the spiral of comparison and envy. But as the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Make an effort to sit down as a family, or with your partner, to share your personal year highlights. And as you look towards the upcoming year, talk about what you hope success looks like for your family. It’ll make it easier to find the joy.


Read More: 8 Doable New Year’s Resolutions for Moms