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Outside-the-Box Resolutions for the New Year

Are you still thinking about resolutions for 2022 and tired of the same old seemingly unachievable goals? I have grown tired of the checklist of resolutions the last few years, not because I don’t think it’s important but because my goals are typically unrealistic. How many of us abandon our resolutions by the end of January? Eighty percent! Nearly 80% of our resolutions are discarded by the time the groundhog pops its head out of his den in February.

We can keep ourselves from almost certain failure by showing up with a different approach to resolutions this year. Here’s what you need to do first:

Define the “Why” behind Your Resolution

Remember how much our teachers harped on us about writing in complete sentences? We need to finish the sentence of our goals. It isn’t enough to say, “I want to lose 20 pounds.” 


“… because a healthier body means I’m able to be active with my kids, because obesity is expensive and I want to save money to spend on more fun things, because…”

When we are able to answer the “why” behind our resolutions, we’re far more likely to be able to stick to those goals, especially when they impact the ones we love. It’s a way for us to practice “love your neighbor as yourself” in real time!

Other Tricks to Successful Resolutions

Set SMART Goals: SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Although it’s a noble goal, you can’t exactly measure “be kinder,” so how do you know whether you’ve actually achieved that goal? Better to say, “When I’m at the cash register, I will choose to smile and chat with the cashier to make their day more pleasant.” It checks all the boxes. SMART.

It’s also important to set goals that you can control. This is why I don’t think “lose 20 pounds” is a great goal. What if your metabolism is out of whack? What if it takes longer than you thought it would and you get discouraged? A better goal might be “Go to the gym and workout for 30 minutes three days a week.” You have full control over all of those variables, with weight loss and strength gained the reward for your efforts.

Tell Someone: There’s something powerful about articulating your goals to others. It increases our degree of commitment and holds us accountable, even if no one follows up with you.

Last year, I had two resolutions: read 24 books and rest. I am happy to say that my efforts to do both of those were successful. I usually post a list of my resolutions for the year on the blog of my website. This year, I’m sharing them with you.

Root & Vine Outside-the-Box Resolutions for 2022

I’m especially passionate about resolutions that deepen my faith, strengthen my connections with others, and reduce my impact on the natural world. I know that investing in these three areas will greatly improve my relationships, bring me a greater sense of peace and freedom, and help me feel connected to a larger purpose. 

And, all three are different ways of saying “Love God and Love Others,” which, according to Jesus, sums up the ten commandments.

With that in mind, here are some outside-the-box resolutions I’m aiming for in 2022. Want to join me?

Spiritual Resolutions

  • Read the Bible in Other Words: I’m aiming to read a chapter a day from the Bible in a translation that is new to me, beginning in the Gospels. I’ve chosen The Message translation from Eugene Peterson because it is such a different rendering from the NIV I usually study. New translations make the Word living and active again for those of us who have read the same Scriptures over and over. To save money and paper, download the YouVersion app, which offers the Bible in dozens of different translations.
  • Read a Wide Variety of Books: I mentioned in “Spiritually Sustainable Resolutions” how valuable I believe it is to read across the spectrum of genres and perspectives to deepen our empathy for those who have different experiences from us. This year, I have an ambitious goal to read 40 books. The Goodreads app makes it possible for you to track your challenge and keep up with friends who are also readers.

Relational Resolutions:

  • Workout 3x’s a Week with My Daughter: This one checks off a few boxes for me, time with my daughter, a shared goal with someone else, and physical recovery and strength building.
  • Read the Bible with My Children: Another crossover resolution, but with my whole family. My goal is to work through the 52 entries in The Family Bible Devotional, Volume 2 with my children by the end of this year.
  • Hike and Eat with My Mom at Least Twice a Month: My mom has stage four kidney cancer. She is healthy for now, but we don’t know when that might not be true anymore. We both love to hike and love to eat, so at the end of last year, we started to meet halfway between our houses for a hike and lunch after. It’s something I want to continue in 2022. Is there someone you want to spend more time with in 2022? Set a SMART goal and plan for it! There’s no time like the present.
  • Make a Will: I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but it’s so easy to put off, and I have, forever. Who wants to plan for their potential demise? I turn 40 this year, and this plus the uncertainties of COVID have made me far more aware of my own mortality. St. Benedict urged other monastics to “Remember to keep death before your eyes daily.” Putting your wishes on paper in the event you become ill (living will) or die (will) is yet another way of loving the people dearest to you. It provides clarity and guidance for our loved ones who have to navigate both their own grief and the financial and legal affairs of losing someone close to them. Micha Buffington, estate planning attorney, provides a detailed explanation of the difference between a living will and a will, as well as many other resources for working moms.

Living Simpler Resolutions

  • Create a Compost Pile: When I was a child, my grandma collected kitchen scraps in a metal pan on the counter and when it was full, she discarded it in the woods. So simple! Our home backs up to woods, and discarding banana peels and old lettuce this way is super simple too. If this isn’t possible for you, consider other small ways you can modify your daily life to reduce your impact on the natural world, such as choosing paper bags over plastic at the store, recycling regularly, eating a more locally grown or plant-based diet, buying gently used materials instead of new, and so on. Every little bit helps us protect and renew God’s Creation.
  • Explore One State or National Park a Month: Our family plans on taking a trip Out West this summer, but in addition to these magnificent treasures of our country, there are 75 state parks in Ohio, where I live, and I’ve only been to less than a dozen. This goal will check off all three categories of resolutions for me: hiking with family in nature, where I best experience the awe and wonder of God. #Winning!

There, I said it out loud. Now I have to do it, right? What have you resolved to do in 2022?

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