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Why I'm Swapping My New Year's Resolutions for a Bucket List

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New Year's resolutions and I go waaay back. We're kind of like that on-again-off-again couple that keeps coming back to each other, promising things will be different this time. But we've given it our best—multiple times, if we're being honest—and it's just not working out.

Our relationship history looks something a little like this: Each January 1, I'd sit down with the intention to make this year the year to drop my bad habits. I'd finally quit biting my nails. I'd swear off carbs to lose those last 5 pounds. I'd resist the urge to reach for chocolaty trail mix every afternoon at 3 p.m. I'd have the willpower to not eat a dinner's worth of calories while cooking at the stove.

I'd jot down these bullet points on a Post-it Note. But soon, the tiny piece of paper was forgotten and sentenced to some dark corner of my wallet. Then, January 1 would roll around again, and I'd sit down with a fresh Post-it and rewrite the exact same resolutions. There's always this year, right?

Sometime between feeling like a failure and realizing this cycle existed, it clicked: These resolutions weren't working because each of them focused on depriving myself of something I wanted. The second I told myself trail mix was off-limits, the sweet-and-salty combo was the only thing on my mind.

That's why I'm dropping New Year's resolutions for good. I'm replacing them with a bucket list of goals—a tradition my older sister has had for the past few years. See, a bucket list is a lot like a list of resolutions, but they're framed in a way that will truly get me pumped for the year ahead, instead of dreading it. Resolutions sound so serious, but a bucket list of adventures? I can handle that.

Here's what's currently on the 2016 list:

  • Conquer CrossFit. Right now, I miss out on half the workout since I'm trying to figure out what the heck is going on. This year, I'll confidently hit the class, nail the jump squats and deadlifts, and maybe even be less intimidated by CrossFit at the end.
  • Become a soup master—and put it into practice on Sundays. That way, I'll have a healthy and filling lunch to last me the whole week. And the trail mix will be less tempting—I hope!
  • Embrace spontaneous happy hours. I used to stress about the calories in drinks and flake on after-work plans because of it. But a glass of wine every now and then won't really wreak havoc on my waistline, and I don't want to miss out on the fun any longer.
  • Seek out fitness adventures in my city. I'll take advantage of free outdoor workouts and neighborhood run clubs to keep me out of workout ruts and maybe even help me make some new fit friends.

Okay, bucket listy things like "go bungee jumping in Zimbabwe!" aren't exactly on my list (hey, they could be on yours!). But there aren't any negatives, either. You won't find a single "don't," "stop," or "stay away from" in the bunch, and I have a feeling I'll actually hang that Post-it note with pride this time around.