Many of us feel pressure to make New Year’s Resolutions, the tradition to focus on things we aspire to do, like exercise every day or stop eating junk food. According to Time Magazine, “…by some estimates, as many as 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions by February. Only 8% of people stick with them the entire year.” Making and then not keeping resolutions can cause people to feel like failures, incompetent, and incapable of living up to their own expectations.
To make the coming year happier and healthier (including emotionally and relationally healthier), consider making a commitment to one or more of the following:
- Show compassion to those in your life, especially those who are annoying or who frustrate you. Consider what needs they are trying to meet, how they may be struggling and are attempting to get those needs met, but in a crooked way. Make a commitment to offer an affirmation that shows compassion: “You work hard to be kind to your family members, making special recipes for birthdays and sometimes they don’t seem appreciative, ” “It’s been hard for you when some of your friends seem to turn their backs on you.”
- Give yourself permission to grieve for losses you experienced in the past year, and that includes all kinds of losses: a major betrayal, a dream thwarted, a major disappointment. Allow yourself to experience the many stages of grief. One resource is the website HCF that lists and describes the following seven stages: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression (including isolation, anxiety and a feeling of dread), Acceptance, and Hope.
- Processing grief – finding ways to explore and express what you have experienced.
- Make amends for anything you did or didn’t do that you should have done. Consider any promises you made (maybe last year’s resolutions/) that you were not able to fulfill. Example: call someone you promised to stay in touch with to acknowledge time got away from you and wanted to find some way to make it up to them. “Alice, I’ve been feeling badly because I promised you I would stay in touch and I realize I let you down. Can we put something on the calendar right now and I’ll take you to lunch to make up in some way for neglecting our relationship?”
- Discover or rediscover your strengths and consider how you are using them and how you can find ways to use them. A highly recommended resource is the book Strengths Finder by Tom Rath. Commit to making any changes that allow your strengths to shine a light in the world.
- Consider other areas of your life that you would like to strengthen or change and one way you could easily do that. Tell at least one person of your plans and ask them to keep you accountable. Celebrate your successes.
Doing one or more of these things can give you a focus for the coming year with at least one commitment that can provide you with a sense of accomplishment. By making doable commitments, you can enjoy the beginning of this New Year with a sense of purpose and direction without being unrealistic or being one of the 80% that fails in keeping New Year’s resolutions.
Best wishes to all my readers for a happy, healthy, and meaningful New Year!
Invitation for Reflection
- What have been your experiences around making New Year resolutions? Are you one of the 80%? How does that make you feel about yourself?
- Can you envision instead making one or more of the commitments in this blog? How likely is it that you will be successful? Predict how that will make you feel about yourself.
Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute