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January 2018 – Time to Make New Year Resolutions – Or Is it?

“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’...” Alfred Tennyson

Happy New Year 2018 to everyone reading.

Research indicates that very few people keep the New Year Resolutions they make beyond the first few weeks or months. So rather than feeling guilty about not keeping them, is there an alternative to this? Try some of the following ideas and see how 2018 pans out for you.

Write yourself a letter from your future self, dated 1/1/2019. Imagine looking back at 2018, from a place of having achieved something that was important to you whether this was getting through a book you longed to read or visiting someone you have not seen for years or cleaning up a room that you have avoided tending to. In your letter, thank your present self for all you did to achieve something that was important to you. Make a list of everything you did to achieve this important aspect of your life. Alternatively, give yourself some compassionate advice from your wiser 2019 self, whether this is encouragement or a hopeful message to keep going and persevering at something . Research shows that connecting to your future self in this way can help you make a difficult change and succeed at the things that are most important to you.

List your favourite memories and achievements of 2017, taking account of the challenges you faced with courage and or humour and including the things that did not turn out the way you had hoped. Studies show that remembering your strengths increases future perseverance and willpower; and reminiscing about the past increases future happiness.

Create a bucket list for 2018 and imagine the highlights. For example, make a list of at least 5 things to look forward to in the coming year, big or small. These could be anything from watching a new television box-set, or some films, or a favourite documentary, a friend or family wedding or birthday or anniversary, spending more time with people you value or joining a new club or group or planning a trip. Research shows that one of the best predictors of emotional health is the ability to anticipate and savour future pleasures.

Make a list of what you are grateful for in your life. Even though New Year tends to be a time to think about what you would like to change about your life, people tend to be much happier if they first think about everything they are grateful for. By making a gratitude list first, you might be surprised how it sculpts your wish list for 2018. You are likely to have a clearer sense of what matters most to you and a better vision of what you want the future to look like.

Make a 2018 commitment to someone else. New Year resolutions do not have to be about changing you. They can be about making a commitment to a bigger cause than ourselves. Commitments could include anything from visiting someone who needs company or doing a charitable task on a regular basis or making donations to a worthy cause if funds allow for this. Research shows that when we do something for someone else, it boosts our own happiness and improves our view about ourselves. Surely, we all deserve to be better people in 2018 than we were in 2017.

If you like a good challenge each year, try a 30-day challenge on a chosen month. You could choose something you want to achieve each of those 30 consecutive days. It could be as small as reading a joke before bedtime or as big as attending a yoga class. Or something creative such as looking at the architecture of buildings on a different road or working on a painting or sewing or knitting something. Or something technically challenging such as learning to use a new camera. Decide on One-Word for the Year. Pick a word to guide you throughout the year. Only one word is allowed as this is more likely to give you clarity and focus. Read through your bucket list and spot any patterns and themes that are emerging. Once you have these patterns and themes, boil it all down to the one word that encapsulates what you want for the year. The following words may help you but choose one that is your very own: Energy, Resilience, Flourish, Creative, Discipline, Imaginative, Musical, Simplify, Joy, Serenity, Fun, Excitement, Action, Technical and so on.

I hope this helps you to find an alternative way of making the most of the New Year 2018. Remember it helps to be optimistic but with low expectations so that everything good that happens is a lovely surprise.

“Don’t think of the opportunities that you have missed in the last year. The New Year is an unwritten book, so choose your actions and words wisely and fill it up with pages that are worth reading by the end of the year.”

Posted in Wellbeing Practice on Jan 01, 2018