The Happiness Connection  

Resolve not to resolve

This week ushers in the start of a new year, and with it, the tradition of setting resolutions.

What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions new year’s resolutions?

If you are like me, you will think about how few people stick to them, or even remember what they are by the end of January.

I strongly believe we should all take time to reflect on our lives and make conscious decisions to improve ourselves and the world around us, but I am not a fan of resolutions in the traditional sense.

Deciding to drop 15 pounds before your summer wedding, or become fluent in Mandarin before your trip in October are resolutions that focus on outcomes. I view these as dreams with timelines. You hope to achieve them, but experience shows it is unlikely.

If your desire is for personal growth and development rather than discouragement, try creating a resolution that focuses on the journey of improvement, rather than the destination, or end goal.

Here are three alternative ways to resolve to make changes in your life, without creating a traditional goal driven resolution.

Set an Intention

Intentions are like goals, but rather than focussing on a point in the future, they are about being in the present moment. You set an intention that you plan to act on, regardless of the outcome.

Let me give you an example.

You might set a goal to lose 15 pounds by the summer.

The goal is all about an outcome. If you don’t reach the magic number, you have failed. We all know that life happens, and even though you have the greatest desire to be thinner, that plan is easily scuppered.

Rather than setting a goal, try setting an intention. Instead of focussing on weight loss, decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The intention provides a roadmap for each day. In this case, remind yourself to make healthy food choices, take the stairs, and drink more water. There is no failure if you have an occasional glass of wine, or miss your power walk occasionally.

With any luck, you may lose a few pounds and look better in your clothes, but that isn’t your focus. Each day you think about what you can do to live healthily.

Intentions demand positive energy, have no limits, and keep your conscious mind in the present. They allow you to bob, weave and pivot as life happens. You can be healthier even if you don’t lose the weight you hoped to.

Research shows that living in the moment is a great way to boost your sense of positive well-being. Happiness comes from your travels through life, not from reaching a specific destination.

Challenge yourself with action

Set yourself a challenge for the year ahead. You might think that losing weight is a challenge, but I’m talking about challenges of action not challenges of outcomes.

Challenge yourself to stop drinking alcohol for January, to commit a random act of kindness every day for a year, or to go to the gym three times a week. It is the activity, or action you challenge yourself with that is your focus, not the outcome.

If you go to the gym every day for three months, you may well lose 15 pounds, but that is not the focus of your challenge. Sticking to your pledge of working out every day is.

Choose a word

Decide on a word to guide you through 2018.

If you want to stop eating so much, or taking an all-or-nothing approach to life, perhaps moderation is a good choice. If you feel you need to soften your approach to life you might pick gentle, or if you want to get more done, action might be the word for you.

This type of resolution also focuses on living in the moment. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself daily to sprinkle this action, or feeling in your life. Put the word on post-it notes and leave them in strategic places, or create a poster with your word as the central theme.

Any time of the year is a good time to think about ways you can improve yourself, or give up habits that aren’t serving you anymore.

Instead of making a traditional goal-based resolution that is likely to be forgotten or abandoned, set yourself up for success. Stop focusing on an outcome and instead enjoy the journey through your life with an intention, an action-based challenge, or guiding word.

Happy New Year and all the best for you and your 2018 resolutions.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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