Marisol Dahl


Three Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions

Happiness, ProductivityMarisol DahlComment

When we have a whole 365 days ahead of us—12 months of mystery, growth, excitement, and change—making traditional resolutions for the new year feels strange. It's hard to set concrete, long-term goals for a future self whose priorities and interests evolve. 

I believe new year's resolutions, however future-oriented they are, are inherently grounded by who we are in the present. And while it's wonderful to honor our present wishes, it seems unfair to hold our future selves accountable to a past, often fleeting, idea of happiness. 

At the same time, I freaking love setting goals and intentions. Here are some substitutes to resolution-making that, I hope, take into consideration the things we can't foresee. 

Three Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions

Choose a Word or Theme

Let a particular word or theme guide how you make your way through 2017. Your word might reflect an energy you want to exude, something of which you'd like greater abundance, a result you want to achieve, and more. I particularly like this practice because a single word seems so simple, but holds so much possibility. You may choose a word with some particular actions in mind, but you'll be surprised how this theme shows up and guides you in different, unforeseen ways. 

Set Monthly Challenges

Month to month, our worlds are a little more predictable. Consider using the first of each month as a time to check in, set particular goals, and maybe try out a few new things that align with your current priorities.

You might even want to adopt a "formula" for this. For instance, each month this year I'm going to pick one thing to fast, one new thing to try, and one new topic to learn more about. Instead of making all my choices in January, I can be assured my decisions for each month will reflect my interests and needs. 

Leave It Open

If the pressure of setting New Year's intentions or thinking about how you want to improve is overwhelming, maybe that's a sign to pause. In the midst of making lofty New Year's plans, it's important to acknowledge where we are now, everything we've accomplished, and the things we love about ourselves that we don't want to change. In the spirit of this, skip the resolution-making altogether. Embrace how the year unfolds naturally. 

How to Make the Most of the Last Two Months of the Year

Career, ProductivityMarisol DahlComment

With the holidays upon us, it's easy to write off the next two months. Q4 is often considered a “lost quarter” in terms of work and productivity, especially if we have the promise of a shiny New Year just around the corner.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The key to successful quarterly planning is to not treat each quarter like all the others. It’s important to take into account the time of year, acknowledge where you are in your life/career/business, and gauge your productivity levels moving forward. You have to look at the big picture, and set realistic expectations for yourself.

3 Ways to Make the Most of the Last Two Months of the Year

Tie up loose ends: What one or two things have you been resolving to do forever but just can’t seem to finish? Now is a great time to clear the decks and wrap up all those projects and to-dos that always seem to get pushed to the back-burner. This is a great end of year goal especially if you are wary of taking on completely new projects at this time.

Focus on relationships: Instead of seeing the holidays as time and productivity-sucks, use them as an “excuse” to get in touch and open up opportunities for stronger connection and collaboration. This is a natural time to check in with your extended family, old classmates, former colleagues, and any other business contacts you’d like to keep in touch with—it won’t be awkward since this is one of the most social seasons of the year.

Do sprints: Use your schedule as an indicator of when it’s time to hustle, and when it’s time to let it flow. Instead of trying to evenly pace your work over the next two months, identify a few periods of time where you can do “sprints”—times where you can kick focused work into high gear and make a lot of progress in a short period of time. When you’re “off-sprint,” enjoy the time to celebrate what you achieved and get much-needed rest.

See my full post on Life After College.