The new year is coming, and another one has somehow come and gone without us noticing. All of the New Year's resolutions we made at the beginning of last year have fallen by the wayside. Or maybe you accomplished them. Set goals and stuck to them. Lost the weight, wrote that book, lived up to your own expectations. That’s more than a lot of people can say.
That's the hard part, isn't it? We are our own harshest critics. We are so often afraid to do or try something because we think we won't be good at it. We won't live up to our own expectations for ourselves, even though deep down we know we’ll never know until we try. You won't get that job you know you’re perfect for unless you apply. No one will read your writing until you show it to them. No one will know you until you let them.
This year, I'm setting fewer resolutions and making more promises to myself. Small, achievable things, and bigger things to work up to over time. I'm promising to try things. To stop diminishing myself before I go after something. Because how will I ever know otherwise? How will you? Here are 15 promises to make yourself this year instead of resolutions.
1. Make peace with the things that went wrong in 2014.
Apologize to someone you hurt. Explain why you've been upset with someone. Realize that any mistake you've made in the past can stay in the past. Give yourself a truly clean slate in the new year.
2. Start a journal.
You don't have to write in it every day. You don’t even have to write in it every week. But write down how things make you feel. Write about the really great days when they happen, so you have something to look back at on the not so good days. But write about those too. They will remind you of your ability to overcome and move forward.
3. Get to know your own voice.
The voice in your head when something is wrong, the feeling in your gut when you just know something. Once you know this voice, you'll feel more confident in your choices, because you'll know they are right for you.
4. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
Make 2015 the first year you don't start off by promising to change how you look. Make it the year of accepting yourself as you are.
5. Write more letters.
Leave people more notes. Send cards by snail mail. Take the time to tell people how you feel about them on paper. It means more than you'd expect.
6. Read more books.
Even if it's just one. Expand your worldview, find a new interest, learn compassion and empathy through someone else's words. Books are a uniquely portable magic.
7. Learn to ask for help if you need it.
Personally, professionally, there are people always willing to help if you are willing to ask.
8. Become comfortable with talking about money.
Learn how much you owe in student loans, in credit card debt. Set aside something from each paycheck and pretend it doesn't exist. That money will build faster than you'd think.
9. Pursue the things you love.
Don't let other people tell you they have to just be hobbies. YouTube is a career for (notably few, but still) people now. People are paid to write and make videos and be creative everyday.
Buy a planner. Make reasonable commitments. Make a trip to the Container Store. If your surroundings are organized, your life will feel more organized.
11. Call your mom.
Call the people you love and check in with them. It takes a few minutes and will mean the world to them.
12. Learn something new.
Take a class, find a new hobby, and make time for it when you can.
13. Take bigger risks.
If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough. Yes, it's a cliché, but it's a good one.
14. Challenge yourself more.
Follow a workout routine. Sign up for a 5K and then train for it. Learn to cook. Join a gym. Do something you never thought you could and surprise yourself.
15. Promise to make yourself happy in small ways this year.
Learn what little things can turn a bad day around. A cup of great coffee, a lush bath, just some time to yourself. Don't feel selfish for going after what you need.