It’s the time of year when our heads swivel back and forth as we try to review the past year—BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR! BEST MOVIES! BEST DOGS ON SKATEBOARDS! FAVORITE HOLLYWOOD STARS WE NOW HATE!— while simultaneously writing our visions and intentions for the next one.
Sigh. So much to do.
Let me make it easy for you. Adopt two principles.
#1: New year, no resolution
This grounds us in reality. Be honest…did you lose the thirty pounds last year, and keep it off? I hope you did, but I fear you didn’t. Neither did I hire a fitness trainer last spring. I could blame the bad weather, the frequent business travel, or even the broken foot, but in the end I just didn’t do it.
We often start a new year with grand visions of the new person we want to be. This year I’m adopting New Year, No Resolution as my mantra because I don’t want to be a whole new me. I want to celebrate the me I am becoming. I’ve come through some tough times, made a difficult decision or two, and taken on several big-ish challenges with a respectable showing.
Experts say it is not the massive makeover that achieves meaningful progress. Small consistent changes accomplish more. Here’s a diagram from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. His diagram shows the surprisingly big result of small steady changes:
A small percent improvement each day equals great growth over time.
This year, what about forgetting the thirty-pound weight loss and deciding to walk around the block every day? Or quitting sweet and artificially sweetened beverages and drinking plain water, tea, or coffee instead? I did that in 2018, and found I have more energy, fewer headaches, and a stable weight. I no longer want the sugary soda. On the few occasions I lapsed and opened a can I was disgusted by how bad the stuff tastes! I didn’t even want to finish it because my palate got accustomed to purer drinks.
#2 Every Good Start Requires a Clean Finish
We often forget about the importance of tying up loose ends. If you want more power, confidence, and joy in the new year, check for unfinished business that drags you down and holds you back.
Do you want to have more fun, and feel happier? Look within to see if there is someone to whom you need to offer forgiveness, encourage on a new path, or extend apology. We cannot control how other people treat us. We can only control how we respond. Give yourself the gift of releasing old conflict and anger.
Do you want more energy? Let go of some of your possessions. Un-clutter your room, closet, or car. I’m not suggesting you do the whole house a la Marie Kondo. This is about small changes. Pick one place and clear out the clutter and junk by New Year’s Day. I expect you’ll feel more energetic. Caring for possessions zaps our vigor. Help yourself by getting rid of things you can live without.
A new year is a gift. If you must have a resolution, here’s a story about the best one I ever made. During a really hard time in my life when I ached from pain and loneliness after my divorce I resolved to list every day three things for which I was grateful. At the time my job required me to visit nursing homes to do quality assurance audits. That often shocked me from my self pity. I looked at people who couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat, or were confined to a small room. I realized I had a life they might think was pretty wonderful! What if I one day looked back and thought these were the “good old days?” I decided to make the most of my life just as it was. Some days my gratitude list might look like this—
- I am thankful I drive my own car.
- I am thankful I can feed myself.
- I am so glad to walk.
—but it still reminded me how much I had going for me.
How about you? What small habit will you adopt this year?
Be grateful…adopt a small habit…then say New Year, No Resolution!
© 2018 Deborah Rankin