New Year, New Happier You!
Thinking of making a New Year’s Resolution? Why not try it a little differently this year…
I have to confess, in my teens and twenties, my New Year’s Resolutions were a cliché: basically, lose weight and tone up in various iterations over the years. They never lasted.
In my thirties I thought I was empowering myself by ditching those stupid, superficial resolutions. I was a mum. I had realised there was a lot more to life than being thin. I went for something deeper. I remember being proud of the year my resolution was to be more environmentally aware. That lasted longer (to be honest I cared more!), but still wasn’t wholly successful. Organic, everything-free, everything-kind products are expensive and I had to prioritise (I still only use chemical-free cleaning products and our milk is local, organic and in glass bottles, but my beauty regime slowly slipped back to chemicals!). So, I stopped doing resolutions altogether.
Until last year. Last year, I realised I wasn’t focusing on the right things. Like so many other things in life, New Year’s Resolutions tend to be based on fixing what we see as wrong with us. Yes, it is a new beginning, an opportunity to form some new habits. But, why are we obsessed with those habits needing to be to correct what is wrong about us now? Will fixing those things actually make us happier or more fulfilled in life? Often that is unlikely.
What changed last year? Well, throughout 2016 our family kept a Happiness Box (quite simply a small cardboard post-box where
we each post in notes of good times as they occur) and on New Years Eve we sat down together, opened the box and read through the notes, remembering the great times that year. It was lovely. We reminisced and laughed about the memories we’d put in there. And, I realised something. Not once had anyone stuck in there a note about being really happy because they’d only eaten 1,500 calories that day, that they’d not eaten chocolate for a week or that they’d cleaned the toilet with lemon juice and vinegar.
There were some striking themes in our notes. They were nearly all about times we had spent together as a family, and with wider family and close friends. They were pretty simple – camping and days out to parks and beaches featured heavily, as did things like tickle fights and dancing in the kitchen. And it made me think. Why don’t I practice at home what I preach at work?
In training and coaching, I get people to think about the good times, what makes those good times and how could they have more of them, rather than always honing in on fixing what went wrong on the bad times. It was clear from the happiness box, my good times were times spent doing simple things with the people I love. So quite simply that became my New Year’s Resolution; do more of that – because that genuinely does make me happy.
So, as another year hurtles to a close (where does the time go?!?) and you start to think about what you want from 2018, can I suggest you think of it a little differently this year? Don’t think about what you didn’t like about 2017 that you are going to do differently in 2018. Think about what you DID like about 2018 and how you can get more of that good stuff!
(Oh and making resolutions public makes them more likely to stick, so feel free to share them. I’d love to hear about them – I’m nosy like that!)