15 Jan Resolved: Better Alternatives to New Year Resolutions
One way to avoid disappointing yourself, and perhaps others, at the start of the New Year is to stop making resolutions — unless you’ve had productive experiences making them. Then, by all means, proceed by using or adapting the process that’s worked for you in the past.
However, according to one 2014 study by the University of Scranton, only 8% are successful in achieving their resolutions. If this number is even close to reality, you can see why I’m wondering why burden yourself with heavy should dos?
One way to avoid such shoulding on yourself is to playback previous unsuccessful themes or goals that keep recurring from year to year. Although all laudatory aims, maybe they include:
• getting organized
• improving health by losing weight and doing exercise
• creating good proportion in activities among work, play, and learning
• finding or strengthening a relationship that’s a great match
• ensuring adequate resources for now and the future
Even if your themes are different, beware if they are similarly ambitious and general.
Instead, open a door in your imagination to one small action that will inspire you to act versus making lists about what should be done. What would you name that has value and can be easily managed?
For example, if you want to learn a new skill that’s truly exciting to you, what small step can you take within the next few weeks? Whether it’s exploring a new sport, learning to draw, writing haiku (or tweets!), or you fill in the blank, pick something that may have at least a two-for-one advantage imbedded in it.
A new sport could introduce you to different people for fun and possibly networking, provide exercise, and help with weight loss. Learning to draw or take engaging photos may provide a meditative experience of concentration that has a spiritual aspect. Writing haiku might bring inspiration and discipline for creating original tweets that attract attention and give creative pleasure. You get the idea.
Just ask yourself, what is the most modest step you can take to explore a new activity? Depending on what you decide to investigate, here are four generic choices to use or adapt. Do add your own ideas as well.
• Have a conversation with a person who’s doing what you’re interested in to get some ideas of how to make good connections and move forward.
• Explore the topic online and read a few short related pieces.
• Find a collaborator whose company you’d enjoy for sharing the experience.
• Identify something related that would be fun to do.
So instead of thinking in terms of an ambitious project to “turn over a new leaf” at the start of 2015, choose a time at the beginning of each week or month or season to pursue your interest in manageable ways that refresh your life, work, and relationships.
By all means, acknowledge and reward yourself for even the most modest progress you make. If you take a short detour or make a mistake you regret, just ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Then move forward again.
BTW, if you’d like to consider a more conventional, yet worthwhile, approach to making resolutions stick, take a look at this recent Wall Street Journal article.
For a quick start now, though, say and follow up on one thing that promises pleasure and perhaps added range in your activities. Each experience will likely bring increased confidence that contributes to improving meaning and progress. I hope you enjoy doing whatever you choose!