Happy New Year’s! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and an enjoyable New Year’s Eve!
New Year’s can sometimes be a disheartening event to get through. You may look back at 2019 and be disappointed that you didn’t complete your resolutions. Or you may look at 2020, the list of things you need to “fix”, and feel utterly overwhelmed. Either way, the cultural practice of self-reflection and improvement observed at this time can sometimes turn into your own personal trash-talking session.
Humans have been setting annual goals for a long time. The Babylonians practiced setting New Year’s resolutions over 4,000 years ago and we’ve been carrying on the tradition ever since. Despite thousands of years of practices, humans still aren’t that consistent with keeping their New Year’s resolutions. Most resolutions are dropped within a week and by the end of the year, only about 8% of resolutions will have actually been kept.
With such a bleak outcome, it is worth it to keep trying? How can you make 2020 different?
There are many suggestions for how to keep New Year’s resolutions. Some recommend making goals rather than resolutions. By making concrete, measurable goals (think SMART goals) instead of broad statements (“I want to be nicer”), success is easier to achieve.
Others suggest selecting a single word to represent your mindset for the upcoming year. Words such as grit, determination, and clarity can be been used to help guide and shape new attitudes and behaviors. Seattle’s own Melinda Gates practices this technique, selecting the word grace two years in a row!
For my part, New Year’s is a personal exercise in finding a balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement. Like most people I know, I will always be able to list several of my personal shortcomings. Learning to live with these shortcomings can be uncomfortable, but it makes the journey of life infinitely more enjoyable. My typical New Year’s activity involves acknowledging and accepting these shortcomings, understanding that I am a human-in-progress doing my best.
With that in mind, I select only one New Year’s resolution every year. It is typically a large goal, one that is near and dear to my heart. Having just the one goal allows me to focus all my mental and creative energies on achieving it. Not only do I have a 100% success rate with this method, I’ve also noticed that I actually enjoy the process instead of resenting it. What do I do with the rest of my long shortcomings list? I try my best to let it be. Life is long, I’ll get around to it. Right now, it’s more important to enjoy the journey I’m on.
As with all things, we are all different! There are many ways to make New Year’s resolutions enjoyable, including deciding not to do them at all! As Richard Carlson said, “When you accept life as it is, you’re free. To hold on [to expectations] is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.”
Whatever you choose, I hope you find the right balance for you! Have a Happy and Healthy 2020!
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