This January, like countless ones before it, people all around the world will vow to improve their lives through a by-now classic set of resolutions. Lose weight, spend less money, and quit smoking are among the usual suspects (for the top 10 New Year’s resolutions, click here). While there’s nothing wrong with those traditional resolutions, here are some non-traditional ideas for your list to help make 2016 a great year — running shoes optional.
1. Search for something else besides happiness.
When we intend to find happiness, we often prevent ourselves from actually experiencing it. Wharton professor Adam Grant explained this common mistake, declaring, “When we pursue happiness, our goal is to experience more joy and contentment. To find out if we’re making progress, we need to compare our past happiness to our current happiness. This creates a problem: the moment we make that comparison, we shift from an experiencing mode to an evaluating mode.” In order to truly experience happiness, we have to be living in the moment.
Happiness is most often a byproduct of another pursuit. Perhaps if you pursue something else, like relaxing more or volunteering time to charity, you will stumble upon happiness. Just make sure you’re not constantly asking yourself, “Am I happy now?” since the key to happiness is simply enjoying the moment.
2. Do things that you’re bad at.
It’s no secret at this point that perfection is a futile goal, yet what about failure as a goal? Now that is doable. In fact, numerous Heleo Thought Leaders acknowledge that failure is an inevitable, even helpful experience. Entrepreneur Eric Ries attributes failure as his one of his greatest teachers in learning to improve his Lean Startup model, and journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman describe overcoming their fears of failure as key elements to building confidence.
Once failure, or doing something poorly, becomes more commonplace it is made less daunting and ominous, and it becomes a learning experience. You don’t have to start 2016 by purposefully failing at your job (you probably shouldn’t). But try doing something that you know you’re bad at, like ice skating. Once you see that you can be bad at something and still enjoy the process, you might not be so afraid to make a bold move.
3. Reach high. Literally.
Not all New Year’s resolutions need to be figurative. Physically reaching high is an easy and specific resolution that can bring you greater confidence and success. Amy Cuddy pioneered the research that helps us understand the power of our body language on both our and others’ perception of ourselves.
In her newly released book, Presence, Cuddy explains how expanding your body to make yourself take up more space can release confidence-boosting testosterone and stress-lessening cortisol. Setting the intention to stretch your body into a power pose for a few minutes every day can make a huge difference, and it’ll surely help you to make 2016 your boldest year yet.
4. Get more sleep
2015 brought us many great technology advances; there was the Apple Watch, Periscope, HBO Now, and Flipagram. 2016 will undoubtedly generate even more apps and robots and self-driving devices. As we become more and more virtually connected, the more and more difficult it becomes to go ‘off the grid,’ which writer and researcher Alexa Clay suggests everyone do. In her book, The Misfit Economy, Clay shares the benefits of silencing the outside world, “turning inward,” and liberating your true self.
The Misfit Economy includes stories of people who choose to live freely of society’s pressures, and Clay suggests that turning off technology to get to know your true self can help you understand and nurture your inner misfit, leading to a more authentic and fulfilling life. Try to take some time in the upcoming year to unplug from popular culture, if you can, and learn to embrace what makes you different from the pack.
6. Use Millennials as inspiration.
They might have been labeled the Me Me Me Generation, but author Daniel Pink has a different opinion of Millennials, especially when it comes to business. In his bestseller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink explains how Millennials exemplify that purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive. According to Pink, Millennials’ startups and businesses present a new model known as “not just for profit.”
Because Millennials do not deem profit as their sole purpose for creating businesses, they have generated a great deal of meaningful and charitable businesses. The shoe company, TOMS, is a prime example of this type of business. In 2016, the more people who follow the Millennials’ business example, the more the world will become a little bit better. Don’t have a business? That’s okay, the idea that helping others can also help yourself is enough of a lesson to inspire a New Year’s resolution.