Get fit, lose weight, stop drinking, eat healthier, start a new hobby: the New Year’s resolutions that are oh-so-familiar, year after year. Roughly half of all adults make resolutions each year, but only a very small handful manage to keep them for more than a few months.
Part of the problem is that these sorts of resolutions are very often based on feelings of personal shortfall, driven by a sense of failing to live up to what we are “meant” to be, or look, or feel. But this is not connected with who we really are, deep-down.
No wonder these resolutions are so often doomed to fail.
Do you really know what’s important to you? What are your core values? A common exercise used by psychologists is to imagine you are at your own funeral, listening to your loved ones talk about you. What would you like them to be saying? Chances are that your clothing size will not be mentioned, nor your brief passion for the ukulele. This exercise will help you identify your core values. Experts say that if you live a life that reflects your values, you will be more deeply content.
When we focus on people other than ourselves, we generate happiness, both for ourselves and others. We feel more connected. We can learn to cultivate gratitude for what we have, and be more thoughtful of others.
So what can you do this year? Use that volunteering leave that your employer gives you. Make the effort to catch up with family and friends, and take the time to meet some new people. Practice gratitude, and help people less fortunate than yourself by being generous with your time,skills and knowledge. Give regularly to charity – ask your employer if they have a workplace giving scheme that you can join; otherwise, set up a regular donation to a cause you care about.
Sure, feel free to join the gym, cut out the beer and start ukulele lessons. But if you make at least some of your resolutions values-based, you’ll spend 2018 doing good and feeling good, and that’s a whole lot more important.