This is the last in a three-part series on Enjoying the Holidays
For many people, the New Year offers hope for a fresh start. This often involves making resolutions for the future – and reflecting on those we didn’t quite make good on last year.
Consider past experiences of giving yourself a "to do" list. What have you achieved in life by setting resolutions for yourself? Which of your previous plans have failed? Try to identify the differences between your successful plans and those that have fared less well, taking into consideration your actual strengths and weaknesses.
Are you an all or nothing person? Do you enter cold water with one dive or step-by-step? Do you function better surrounded by people or in solitary activities? Understanding your temperament and what has worked for you in the past will help set you up for greater success.
We all want to improve ourselves, especially without too much sacrifice or hard work. Yet bad habits are hard to shake, and new ones take hundreds of repetitions to become automatic. Merely trying new activities or entering unfamiliar situations can be challenging.
What’s the best way to formulate good intentions and then follow through?
Don’t set yourself up for failure by being too big or grandiose in your resolutions. And don’t self-sabotage by picking something you wish you wanted to do (or think you should want to do), but don’t really want. It’s much harder to get up for something that doesn’t really interest you.
Developing your list of New Year’s Eve Resolutions should be fun. Start off by picking something you really want to do. What goals pop in your head, however unrealistic? Write them down. Now consider if you have the resources, both internal and external, to achieve these goals? Have you picked something truly impossible like being a famous singer, even though you can’t sing? If so, go back to the drawing board.
Once you’ve selected a goal that might be attainable, then work backwards from there. Think logically about how you can get where you want to go, selecting one or two resolutions that actually suit your current situation and resources. For example, if your dream is to write a novel, try scheduling 30 minutes a day to write. Consider reading a book on writing, enrolling in a course, or joining a writing group.
Breaking with Tradition:
Some of us are overly constrained by the values of our family or culture. This leads us to set goals that are not likely to make us truly happy. For example, many people think that making lots of money is the best road to happiness, despite the fact that research (and experience) has consistently shown that after attaining a certain level of financial security, more money doesn’t make you any happier.
As you establish goals for your future, contemplate what is truly meaningful for you personally, and what is actually likely to make you happier. One of my resolutions is to be grateful for what I already have.