Choosing your New Year’s Resolutions, New Month Resolutions and New You Resolutions
As another year draws to a close, I find that a lot of people start thinking about what they want to achieve in the new year.
Some will be disappointed that they didn’t achieve the New Year’s Resolution/s they made for this year and they abandon the idea altogether (and just enjoy a great New Year’s Eve party).
Other people are so well organised that in September, they start planning what they will do in the coming year according to their short, medium and long term goals.
I suspect that most of us fall somewhere in the middle, wishing we could make and commit to one important resolution and maybe knock off a few others along the way.
However, I think that the underlying concept of the New Year’s Resolution is an innate desire to change something about ourselves.
A sense that in some way, we could do better. We could live more meaningfully and that somehow this would make us feel more complete.
For most of us living in a relatively comfortable Western world, it can be a little bit too easy to continue on the well-known and slightly habitual route and maintain the status quo. After all, for the most part, our everyday lives include the modern comforts of running water, electricity and accessible transport (over 100 years ago, even these simple items were considered a luxury).
Thankfully, there are enough motivated people around us who are inspired every day to get up and make everyday comforts available to us.
I remember working with a client who had very wealthy parents that could afford ‘every luxury’ and yet she felt as if she was a ‘poor little rich girl’ as she could not find happiness or contentment in her childhood years. She could not understand why everybody else thought she was so lucky because she had access to financial resources — because she felt so unhappy despite having access to financial resources.
So let me start this process by saying that in my personal view, I do not believe that having money (or more money) is the only way to secure your New Year’s Resolution.
You may have a goal to earn more money and that is definitely achievable. However, I would like to suggest that you check in with yourself and ask, ‘what will having more money really do to improve my life?’
I say this because I find that so many people who have pursued this goal, often to the exclusion of all other areas in their life, find that it doesn’t bring them the happiness and contentment that they thought it would. So ask yourself the question again, ‘what will having more money really do to improve my life?’ What is the real motivation behind this resolution?
As a learning junkie who can’t wait to learn the next useful piece of information, I have to constantly ask myself, ‘why am I going to spend my time going to this event or listening to this recording or reading a particular article?’ At the end of the day, what I am really deciding is — ‘how am I going to spend my time and will this take me in the overall direction that is aligned with my values and purpose?’
Whilst our lives may seem as if they don’t change very much on a daily basis, when we look backwards over the last year, five years or 10 years, we can suddenly see how much they have changed. Ask any parent of adult children and most of them will tell you ‘it went so fast,’ but at the time of sleepless nights and long days, it actually felt like an eternity.
If your mortality has been under threat with a serious illness or injury, you may have found that your decision making process developed a new level of clarity. This can also happen after a crisis of some other sort — losing your job, a sudden unexpected death of someone close to your heart, a move to a new location etc.
However, I am well aware that a lot of people make choices based on their past choices which are largely very similar to previous choices and completed out of habit. For example, when I made a choice to do X last time, things were okay, so I will do X again, no need to rock the boat. If the X choice had a particularly nasty consequence, you may be reluctant to ever make a similar X choice ever again (and that can be just as limiting because it could have just been a one off situation).
I also believe that being aware of our own unmet needs and wants can help us realise that some decisions are our own personal way of resolving a past challenge or disappointment.
So where does this leave you and your New Year’s Resolution planning? Even if you have been thinking about a ‘simple’ resolution of walking more often and taking the stairs now and then, what are you really asking yourself to do? Is the underlying ‘reason’ for this particular resolution actually about wanting to be just a little bit healthier?
Are you looking to complete a New Year’s Resolution or are you really wanting a new you? Is it more achievable to create a smaller New Month’s Resolution? Do you ultimately want to create a New You Resolution?
Here are some of my top tips for choosing resolutions and then completing them!
1. Ask yourself — What wonderful thing has happened to me this year and how can I repeat this experience again next year in a similar way?
You may have actually achieved something this year that either you didn’t expect or that you hoped would happen and then it did. Firstly, say wow! Secondly, say thank you! Thirdly, choose something that is easily achievable for next year that would give you a similar type of buzz.
2. Ask yourself — What challenging thing happened this year that reminded me that I really need to take action next year to make my life better?
Perhaps you had a wake-up call that you didn’t expect? At the time, it probably shocked you and now that the shock has worn off, have you taken any form of action? You don’t need to do a complete makeover of yourself, your work or your life, but you probably do need to do something so that you are moving forward in a new way.
3. Ask yourself — What have I admired about someone else I know and how did their success make a difference to their life or someone around them?
When you recognise someone else’s success, you are likely to either say to yourself ‘I could never do that’ or ‘I want what they’ve got.’ Dig a little deeper and you will find that in most cases, their path to success was paved by many small steps. Let this person be your inspiration to remind you that everyone has the power to take one small step after another. It doesn’t have to be the same step in the same direction, but all of us can take action of some sort. It is a choice.
4. Ask yourself — How can I measure my success along the journey rather than only seek a reward at the end?
Some cultures are very overt about personal praise, others are not. If you have been lacking motivation for any reason, look back from a small distance at your situation and be a lot kinder to yourself when thinking about your performance. The people I admire the most are the people who do things that are challenging to them, that are outside of their comfort zone and take just a little bit of courage to complete.
For some people, that can be as small as saying hello to someone new. For others, it could be resolving a complex family relationship issue that has been running for years. If it takes some form of effort to complete the task with many different steps over a period of time, see if you can find ways to give yourself a pat on the back each time you have achieved a milestone along the way.
5. Ask yourself — What hasn’t worked in the past and why hasn’t it worked?
Reviewing your past resolutions that were not completed is not a reason to give up! It is a reminder that each time you start again, you are one step closer to achieving the resolution! This time, you are more aware of the potential road blocks and the challenges you will face. At this point, you can identify what extra resources or support you may need to help you complete the necessary action. Don’t let other people tell you what you need — if you know you need personal coaching, get personal coaching. If you know you need a deadline, create a deadline. If you know that it will only work if you are part of a team, get a team together!
Remember that Confucious has said:
When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.
So for now, I encourage you to take action towards either choosing or actioning your New Year’s Resolutions (or New Month’s Resolutions). It is never too late to start or start again. The past has prepared you for this moment, so use it to shine! You will ultimately find that the New You Resolution will be your real goal.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments — what are you planning to do to achieve your resolutions?
Sue Ellson BBus AIMM MAHRI CDAA (Assoc) ASA MPC
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