Avoid the ‘New Year, New You‘ hype this year by not making any profound life decisions on the day you are likely to be at your most hungover. It is the middle of winter and you should be hibernating. Save profound change until spring. Accept that you are probably pretty awesome just the way you are. You don’t need to give up chocolate or wine for January, that would just make you sad.
Happiness. Most of us make pressure fuelled and unrealistic resolutions because we want to be happier. Happier with our weight, alcohol intake or work-life balance for example. Gym membership will spike in January with an influx of resolutionaries. By February most of the gyms are back to normal levels of use. Joining the gym will not make you happy. January 1st is probably also not the ideal day to sign up for a marathon in the summer, especially if the only running you are doing at the moment is for the bus. Arbitrary weight loss goals or fitness fads will not make you healthy. Being healthy is a life choice. It’s great to challenge ourselves, but unreachable targets are going to make you depressed. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Betterment. Resolutions are usually sincere and are generally made because we have identified areas where we think we can be happier. So it would be slightly churlish to just disregard these desires for betterment. Why limit ourselves to deciding to improving our lives just once a year. Every given moment is an opportunity, ready to be seized. A great Christine Mason Miller quote is ‘At every given moment you have the power to say: this is not how the story ends.‘
Values. Instead of resolutions try working out what matters to you, what you stand for and what values you have in your life. Anne Loehr’s excellent article, How to Live With Purpose, Identify Your Values and Improve Your Leadership, describes this in detail. Values should be the things that are important to you (not morals) and should be the things that bring you happiness. Everybody’s values will be different and you should add a description of why each selected value is important specifically to you. Try identifying up to about 7 core values and write them down in your work notebook or print them off and put them on the fridge. Use words that resonate with you as an individual. Keep fine-tuning them until you are happy. When you understand your purpose and what really matters to you, then making the right decisions in life becomes easier. For example, if you have identified being fit and healthy as important then this should help you focus on nutrition and exercise.
Fulfilment. Now that you have identified your values, you should be able to connect with them in everything you do. If you can successfully align your daily activities with your values, then you will feel happier. Try making important decisions by reviewing the outcomes against your chosen values. Acknowledge that every given moment is an opportunity and take time to stop, be grateful for the awesome and important things already in your life and be happy.