British Columbia

No to New Year's resolutions: 3 tips to end the year and start fresh, from a life coach

As the end of the year rapidly approaches it's time to think of what one should purge from one's life and what one intends to do in the next year — rather than just writing up New Year's resolutions — says Victoria-based life coach Rebecca Hass.

North by Northwest columnist says to make intentions rather than resolutions and to use a ritual to mark them

Life coach Rebecca Hass said she has found making resolutions to not be successful, and recommends making intentions (“defined as an aim, or having a plan") instead. (Getty Images)

As the end of the year rapidly approaches it's time to think of what one should purge from one's life and what one intends to do in the next year — rather than just writing up New Year's resolutions — says Victoria-based life coach Rebecca Hass.

"This is the time of year that nature built for reflection," Hass told North by Northwest host Sheryl MacKay.

Rebecca Hass is North by Northwest's newest columnist. (Rebecca Hass)

While New Years can be a time of thinking about the new and maybe wanting to make changes, you don't want to skip over deciding what you want to let go at the end of the year, says Hass.

1. Decide what you need to 'compost'

Think of your life as a garden filled with perennials — a plant that lives for more than two years, and blooms over the spring and summer — and annuals, which complete their life-cycle in one year and then die, said Hass.

One's career or a hobby are typically perennials, "but some things in our life are an annual, and they're dead, and they're not coming back, which can also be a particular relationship or maybe a way of seeing yourself," she said

"For the health of the garden you need to dig that thing up and throw it in the composter."

​When thinking of what to "throw in the compost", Hass suggests looking looking at old fears and old hurts — perhaps those which one has already overcome over the course of the year.

"Maybe you've been terrified of public speaking and you stood up at a wedding this year and you did it, and so you could say goodbye to the fear of public speaking," she said.

"By having a ritual of actually saying goodbye to that, it won't pop up its ugly head the next time you get asked to speak, even at a business meeting at the office."

Hass said other items for the compost could include "unfinished business", such as a nasty breakup or bad habits that you feel ready to move on from.

2. Say goodbye to what needs to go

Hass recommends saying goodbye to these aspects of your life by choosing one of three rituals.

The first is to have a funeral, for those things you may feel sad or angry about, but should definitely be gone for good (such as one's perfectionism).

The next is to have a retirement party, "if you have something that maybe you don't really hate, that you feel some fondness about, but you're still ready to say goodbye."

Finally, for aspects of one's life that one can't rid of fast enough, Hass recommends writing down what that is, or taking the actual item and burning it, or burying it, or shredding it — complete with yelling and stomping if that is what is needed.

"It's surprisingly powerful," Hass said, "there's something in that action."

3. Make intentions, not resolutions

"I found resolutions really not successful," Hass said.

"In fact I took a look in Webster's Dictionary and they describe it as a firm decision to not do something. That's probably why I fail at it, because I feel buried under the weight of it by the time I start."

Hass says to decide what you intend to change in the New Year, and have a small ritual to mark your plan to carry out that change. (Inmist Media House)

Instead, Hass recommends making an intention, which is "defined as an aim, or having a plan."

"That says to me that there's a little more flexibility and I feel I have a better chance of success."

Hass said to figure out what you want to let go off, and what you want to try and do, and to write that down.

Then she said to gather objects to indicate what you're letting go off and stepping into — such as making a line of junk food, or of healthy food, to symbolize what you've stepping into. Then she said to step over that line, and have a little celebration.

"When you feel like you've got that in your bones, step over the line in the sand you made, and arrive on the other side," she said.

"I've had musicians come and we've laid scores out, recommitting to their art form. So they step over into all this music that they feel so passionately about."

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: How to end the year and start the next one fresh, from a life coach


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.