New Year’s Resolutions – it’s time!
Do you make them? Do you keep them? Do they serve you?
I was wandering and talking to numerous amount of people over the years about this, if resolutions made by us were an accurate indicator of who we actually are, we would be a nation of thin, healthy, organized, educated, well-rounded, altruistic, agreeable non-smokers. We would watch very little television, be debt-free, travel a lot, having our 5 a day every day and eat vegetables with every meal.
Those are the sort of things we plan to do when the new year rolls around. They are the easiest promises to make ourselves, but they are not always kept.
New Year Resolutions may or may not result in changing your life for the better. If you order up a batch of resolutions without giving them much thought, you might let go of them just as easily.
Whether you use this time of year for resolving to do things better or not, and whether you stick with them or not, have they made a real difference in your life? Ask yourself if your life is truly better than it was a year ago.
If it is – if you have indeed embarked upon a healthier and more rewarding life, hurrah! Even the tiniest efforts and successes are worth celebrating.
If it isn’t, I have a few ideas about how you can make some real changes for the good.
First, the question that sets the stage for a discussion about how your New Year’s intentions can make a difference in your life – have your resolutions been worthwhile?
It might be useful to define “worthwhile”. I have identified four ways to help you to do so.
1. Make it meaningful
Embrace the philosophy of “make each day count”
Embrace the philosophy of “make each day count”. In this age of fragile peace and heightened anxiety, there is no time like the present to fully immerse yourself in that which is most important to you. Don’t put off telling someone you love them, or placing a call, or offering an apology. Do it now. You have no way of knowing when it will be too late. Instead of watching your bucket list grow longer, start taking concrete steps toward making some must-do-somedays a reality. Hug, and listen, and breathe deeply.
You can translate this point into your resolutions by making an actual list of ways you can live each day to its fullest – communications you want to be better at, people you want to show more affection towards, and must-dos just to say you did them. Break it down into attainable steps if necessary. For example:
- Call Aunt Mary every week
- Date nights every Wednesday with my spouse – arrange regular baby-sitting
- Contact travel agency and book cruise
Try to maintain a sense of urgency about what matters to you most. If you don’t make it a priority and treat it like you might not have many more chances to do it, it might not get done.
2. Make a difference in someone else’s life
Will your co-worker or child’s teacher or the cashier at the store be glad for an encounter with you? Be the type of person that others look to for cheer after a challenging day. Bring a smile to the faces of others. There is nothing like giving of yourself to give to yourself – knowing that the life of another is richer because of your purposeful actions or gifts is indescribably rewarding.
To make this happen in real life, do something unexpected and spontaneous, resolve to treat people with respect, send thank-you notes, smile at strangers, send cookies to your spouse’s office, and offer an encouraging word to your buddy at community basketball who can never make a shot in the basket.
3. Live a life of gratitude
Being thankful for what you have will solidify the positive feelings within. Even at times when you really need to be intentional about finding an element of your life for which you are grateful, it is worth making the effort to do so. We have all encountered people who are both happy and grateful and it is easy to assume that they are grateful because they are happy. I think it is the other way around – happiness is the result of gratitude, not the cause of it.
On paper, resolutions of gratefulness can look like a simple list:
- My boss is a tough cookie, but I have a job
- My mom can be critical, but I know she loves me
- My old car need repairs again, but it is paid for
I won’t pretend that gratitude in the face of adversity is easy. But resolutions are not supposed to be easy – they are supposed to be life-changing!
4. Make room for art, nature, and beauty
I know that’s a mouthful, and covers a lot of ground. But I lump them together because there is such a large overlap among them. Art – painting, music, poetry, needlework, or sculpture – presents images of beauty and often emerges from nature. Nature, from a brilliant yellow squash blossom to a giant squid to a volcano, offers an assortment of beauty so broad it defies definition. Beauty is in the air we breathe and in a fresh-baked apple pie and in the grizzled face of a man on the street.
Embrace these components of life not for the sake of fulfilling a duty or becoming more cultured. If you are going to the opera or the modern art museum out of obligation, don’t. If you’d really rather go to the classic rock tribute show, do. Life is too short to be let your entertainment be wrapped up in shroud of “should” and “must”.
Resolving to fulfill at least one of these four goals – being meaningful, making a difference to others, coming from a place of gratitude, or embracing art and nature and beauty – can contribute real value to your life.
This year, as you seek to increase meaning in your life, consider injecting some of the ideals you hold most dear into your New Year’s resolutions. Make a promise to yourself to follow your heart. When you have kept your promise and shown the nature of your heart to the world around you, you will know that your resolutions have been worthwhile.
What do you think of these tips on making your New Year’s resolution? What area of your life would you like to pay attention to? As a life-style coach and someone who deeply cares about people, I would love to hear from you!