I don’t have to be perfect — but I do have to be happy

I’ve not made any resolutions for 2015. So much is changing for me this year. It’s all good and definitely exciting. But I’m still prioritising what I want all this change to mean and where I want it to take me. So resolutions feel a bit of a distraction.

But I do know one thing.

I want to be happy. And I want to spread happy.

There’s lots I could say about that and what I mean (although, I don’t have all the answers). But not now.

Wanting to be happy doesn’t mean I’m not happy. It’s just that I could do more of the things that make me happy and less of the things that don’t. I guess that applies to a lot of us.

But it was something said to me at the brilliant Culturevists meet up last night that made me think about resolutions in a new way.

“I like my new job. And everyone’s really happy with what I do. If only I could stop beating myself up about things.”

Too many of us set ourselves impossible standards throughout the year — not just in January. And, when things don’t measure up, we go in for large bouts of self flagelation. I know I do.

Never has this soul-destroying drive for perfection been more self-limiting.

In orgs that need to be increasingly agile and innovative to survive, we’re never going to be 100% successful all of the time. That’s a fact. We fail, we learn, we iterate. That’s the future. And it’s a pattern we have to get used to.

But, far too many people assume success begets happiness and failture, of any kind, is a disaster. When, in fact, it’s the other way round. Happiness leads to success. (I’m borrowing here from the very brilliant Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.) Loads of research proves this.

So, I’m wondering if the ‘beating myself up’ habit is a lot more problematic than it appears. Because, if we believe that only by achieving our goals will we be happy. And when those goal are constantly shifting out of our reach, we’re actively and consistently denying ourselves the right to be happy all the time.

So, this year I won’t set any resolutions. I’ll wear my ‘I don’t have to be perfect’ badge made for me by Jenni Lloyd at Meaning. And I’ll be learning from what doesn’t go to plan.

I’ll be having loads of fun hanging out with people that make me laugh. And I’ll be learning about mindfulness and an musical improv — because, if you’re living in the present, you can’t possibly beat yourself up about what you failed to do in the past or what you might get wrong in the future.

That’s it. My very first blog as me — thank you Euan Semple for the big Scottish kick up the arse.

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