A New Way of Setting Resolutions:  GIVE, GROW and Saying NO - Small Legacies

A New Way of Setting Resolutions:  GIVE, GROW and Saying NO

By Kendra Johnson

My Many Resolutions

Ever since I had my third son, I feel like I have fallen apart. My house is messy, my patience is thin and let's not get started on my health...

Usually the new year is an exciting and reinvigorating time for me but with a 4 year old, 3 year old and 9 month old I just can't imagine diving into a rigorous workout routine or home organization project.

Here's what my resolutions in past years have looked like:


 This picture showings the  year I transformed my home in the style of The Home Edit (an organization company who loves organizing things in rainbow order). I still have these cups organized this way and I love it!. 









Almost every year I set some ridiculous goal for myself and I never follow through. It’s so exciting to plan for improvements on your life and overall, my goals have always focused on ways I can bring a sense of calm to my life. 

  • I spent 2012 going FULL-OUT into Dave Ramsey’s Snow Ball Method of getting Debt Free.
  • In 2015 I devoured all the content The Minimalists created.
  • 2017 was the year of fitness where my husband and I competed to see who could have the greatest physical transformation. (I ended up getting pregnant that year so that's a pretty great transformation and I won, haha) 
  • I’ve reorganized my whole home according to both Marie Kondo and The Home Edit.
  • 2020 was the year I vowed to spend 1000 Hours Outside.
  • And 2022 was the NO-SPEND year where I was only going to spend on essentials all year long… yeah. That didn’t exactly happen. 


The year Shane turned three (2021) my resolution was to make all of our birthday cakes at home and use fondant to decorate them!











My resolutions have been consistently extreme. Now that I am completely overwhelmed by motherhood, I’m brainstorming ways to make goal setting more realistic and measurable. Instead of setting one impossible resolution, this year I’m setting 3 smaller goals. Three things I can work towards one step at a time. 

I’m organizing my new year goals into 3 categories:

  1. A Way to GIVE

  2. A way to GROW

  3. And Saying NO

I don’t have to follow all three every day of the year, but I will work to improve in all three of these areas throughout the new year. 

A Way to GIVE

Confession: I always forget to give. I often get distracted by my own savings goals and bills.  I say I will...and it just gets left off the to-do list. This time of year is perfect for setting a budget for the new year and finding ways to give back. This could be financially or the gift of your time. 


  • Do I want to give my money or my time?
  • Do I want to help a larger cause or something personal?
  • What causes or initiatives are special to me?
  • Do I want to give in one large lump sum or in small chunks throughout the year?

Goal Set:

Here are a few example of things you can do:

  • Vow to volunteer more for an organization you’re passionate about. 
  • Commit to donating money to a charity you love. 
  • Vow to give larger tips for customer service employees. 
  • Spoil your friends and family on their birthdays this year. 

MY GOAL: Donate to the Church Bell Choir to help refurbish the bells. 

Measurable: I am just going to write a check once because I know I will fail if I try to do this monthly. (You may want to set up a monthly withdrawal to measure your progress)

A way to GROW


  • What’s something that can help your mind and body flourish?
  •  Is there something you want to learn?
  •  Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to try? 
  • Do you have a stack of books you bought but never read? 

Goal Set 

Here are a few ideas of how you can grow this year:

  • Read a new non fiction book every month. 
  • Watch Documentaries instead of Reality TV. 
  • Learn to Sew or Knit
  • Learn woodworking 
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Take an Online Course (Coursera has tons of amazing free courses) 
  • Have weekly or monthly family meetings to connect and communicate. 
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Train for an athletic milestone (3K, 5K)

MY RESOLUTION: To learn and implement Montessori philosophies into my home. I will be studying the Montessori method from the original author so I ordered all of the books written by Maria Montessori

Measurable: I will read one book a month on the Montessori method and I will work to make at least one change each month toward Montessori inspired childcare.

I will be posting summaries of  each chapter on the Small Legacies TikTok page if you want to follow along! 


Saying NO

There’s always something we should be saying no to. (I’m looking at you Dr. Pepper). I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t have at least one unhealthy habit. If you’re like me, you have a LOT of unhealthy habits. This one was really hard for me to narrow down because there are so many that I could choose from.  Too much chocolate, too much soda, too much tv...and so on. 


To help you decide what to say “no” to this year, reflect on these questions:

  • What makes you feel anxious?
  • What makes you feel sad?
  • What makes you feel overwhelmed?
  • What makes you feel financially strapped?
  • What makes you feel angry?
  • What makes you feel disappointed in yourself?
  • What makes you unhealthy?

Goal Set

Once you have reflected on your answers you’ll have a lot of options for what you may want to consider saying no to this year. 

Here are some examples of what to say NO to in the new year:

  • Quit Smoking
  • Stop Drinking Soda
  • Stop over-scheduling yourself. 
  • Set Healthy Boundaries at Work
  • Say No to Extra Volunteer Work (You don’t have to be room parent every year)
  • Quit Buying Lattes Every Week
  • Quit spending all your time on toxic relationships 
  • Quit eating lunch at McDonalds
  • Quit eating late night ice cream. 
  • Quit spending every night on TikTok.
  • Quit seeing people who make you feel anxious, underappreciated, or judged. 

MY GOAL: Limit nighttime snacking. Unless there is a special occasion i think I need to stop with the late night treats. Ice cream, candy, wine, etc. I just divulge in too many treats every single night. 

Measurable: I’m not cutting these food out completely, but I am going to set a measurable limit. I am going to say no snacking after 5pm. I can snack away all I want before then, just not after. 

So now that you know the three goals I am setting, I’d LOVE to hear your goals for the new year! Comment below with yours!

Also,  I highly recommend reading this Forbes article on how to make those new year's resolutions stick. 


Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

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