New Rules For A New Year Or Aim Higher Shoot Shorter Or Resolution Revolution Or …..
By Dan Johnston
Last year, er, month, err, well, you know what I mean; I wandered down a festive path as our year came to an end. So this month I thought we could look at new beginnings as we enter into 2020.
I can guess at what you are thinking “Not more New Year resolutions dribble…” and I would be with you on that. Although it is fun making them, challenging yourself to achieve them and discussing them at length on the run-up to the passing of the year, we all tend to get a little silent about them come the middle of January. As the mountainous task we laid out before ourselves begins to loom over, our ambitions, smothered in everyday life, end up in resentment and feelings of failure and disappointment – that is, if you are anything like me.
I wouldn’t suggest you are all going to fail and I have a collection of friends who never fail to attain their aspirations. However the reality is, that not drinking for a year, cutting back on the cakes, stopping smoking or going to the gym, never seems to match up to our actions. So, it goes without saying that, we can feel deflated by our inability and this can have a knock-on effect on how we deal with day to day challenges.
How do we avoid this annual self-imposed torture? What solutions offer a reasonable escape from the inevitable disappointment?
Luckily for you all, I’ve had much experience of this over the years and have drafted out a more organic way to achieve aspirations without moving mountains and parting seas to attain them.
To be fair, it is quite a rational method, one that involves taking bite-sized chunks and working them, rather than biting off more than one can chew. My goal setting involves reachable markers – mini-goals – with an aim to aspire to a grander final result. And take note of the use of language – aspire was no accident. You never quite know what is around the corner in life, never too sure how it is all going to pan out and as my friends from across the Pacific would say, “Life might just throw you a curveball that has you out on the first swing of the bat”.
For example, applying unbreakable rules such as not smoking ever again after you wake on the first of the month makes the end result less attainable – especially if you are a little sore from the night before. Setting a more achievable target such as consciously reducing the number of nicotine sticks you inhale on a daily basis – maybe by half – can be much more realistic. The end game can then be a complete cancellation of the ritual at a set point in time; say by the summer, or Easter break. Hopefully this means that not only are you not going to fail at the first hurdle but allows for movement in the play, adapting to those unforeseen events in your life.
Smoking is an easy example but the principles can apply to any habit change – so when considering your fitness, a target to reach the gym at least once a week to start wouldn’t be such a bad bag, especially if you aim for a long term goal such as firmer buttocks or that six-pack you promised yourself. And not the one from the fridge either, although the bite-sized rule can just as easily be used with alcohol as well – cutting down to just one bottle of red a week or a single trip to the local watering hole during the same period.
Nowadays, with such fast-paced living and pressures on us to achieve more, with less time, be on point and be almost autonomous in everything we do – maybe habits/creature comforts aren’t the place to look at. Developing new routines, organisational skills or even finding more time to pursue a hobby could just as easily be on the cards for a better life in the new year.
So, rather than pressuring yourself to rid yourself of something, flip the angle and add things to your life.that can improve it. The focus, I find, is always too much on the negative and by adding, say, a half-hour meditation to your daily routine, you might just find that the bad habit you wish to drop just falls away from you naturally.
Then there are the things we can do to increase our positivity that benefit others more than ourselves. For example, volunteering at a local charity, getting involved in community-led schemes or being a tad greener in life. Nothing wrong with saving money, installing the kit and running solar as a New Year’s resolution, can also benefit the whole of mankind indirectly. Just a thought.
However, you want to look at it, the year is a new and it is the perfect chance to explore a new you. Whether you are dropping aspects of your life you wish you had some time ago or adding extra zest to your life to improve your fulfilment in it, just remember to break it down like the squirrel carrying a single nut at a time rather than a monstrous trolley load all at once. Make it easy on yourself, don’t get down when things go wrong and throw in the towel, adapt and move with the new challenges, evolve the rules to fit into your life and you are sure to reach the finish line.
For me, cutting back on things is a must but I fully intend to make my New Year res’ about being happier, just that simple. As for the habits – I’m sure they will fold away when the time is right and as for all of you, I wish you all success in your endeavours and hope that the year of 2020 leads to as much clarity in your life as the numbers suggest