Theme vs. resolution – what’s yours for 2017?

Yesterday my good friends over at Kale and Co. posted a comment on social media that echoed my thoughts to a tee.

“January was a trial run. Let’s DO this February”

For me, with three kids, January is all about school holidays and the beach. No writing, a small amount of work and this year, watching the Gilmore Girls from scratch. I know, but hey.

January, for so many of us, is a time that we reflect on the year that just flew past and make plans, resolutions and goals for the next one. The thing is, I don’t do resolutions. This is simply because I don’t want to make promises to myself that maybe I won’t keep and then feel disappointed in my lack of potential achievement.

Does this sound remotely familiar to you at all?

It is all too easy to jump on the New Year Resolution bandwagon. Everyone around you leaps on as soon as the clock ticks New Year. If that is you and the bandwagon is still moving, well done. But if not, there is another way.

Although resolutions don’t appeal to me, I do like to have a theme for my year to guide me in choosing a direction or pathway each day, week and month. This year I have chosen theme x 3, but you might like to stick to one of your own or many – just remember not to overload your dance card, which does make the doing a little harder.

Theme 1: Accept the things you cannot change

I have come to realise that I invest a crazy amount of energy worrying about or trying to change situations, people, personalities and relationships that I simply cannot, no matter how hard I try. Have you noticed how much this can greatly affect your physical and mental health and wellbeing if you let it? For the past month, I have applied this thought to so many things and the instant relief of letting them go has been enormous.
Of course, these are never one off thoughts, situations or people never to be seen again and there have been days when ‘Accept the things you cannot change’ has been on constant repeat in my brain but it really works. This is not at all about giving up or giving in but it is about acknowledging what you actually have control of. Or not.

The insightful Mahatma Gandhi looks at this another way, which puts the power back in your court.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”

Theme 2: Make it Happen

How often have you promised yourself that you are going to do something or catch up with someone or had a dream that has never seen the light of day?

In our current world of busyness and overload, it is easy to see why this happens but the question is, how can we actually make these things happen

Once upon a time, I used to donate blood and it has been my intention ever since to do it again. Soon. So, when I finally rang in January to make an appointment, it was a shock to be told that 15 years had passed since my last donation. Wow. I know how vitally important giving blood is to our community and yet I hadn’t made it happen. Whilst enjoying my little slice of fruit cake and packet of chips in the tea-room post vampire session, I realised that the simple solution for me to donate regularly, is to make my appointments in advance. Lightbulb moment that took me 15 years to arrive at.

For you this might be choosing healthy food or putting together an exercise plan or getting more sleep – what are the barriers to you actually implementing a behaviour and how can you make it happen?

Theme 3: Give Back

I like to think that I am a community minded person. I give my love and support to my friends and family, I am passionate about my work helping others (that includes you!) and as a family we financially support charities whenever we are able. Yet, it is is so easy to unthinkingly be centred on ‘me’ and I know there are other ways I can incorporate ‘giving’ into my everyday life.

Being charitable and helping others does not have to be a financial donation. Lets face it, in tough financial times, many people find it hard enough to support their own families. Nonetheless, being kind to others can be as simple as passing on a parking ticket that is still active, cooking a meal for someone who can’t do it themselves, brightening up someone’s day by giving them a heartfelt compliment or spending 5 minutes talking to your elderly neighbour who lives alone, instead of giving them a quick wave before rushing inside as soon as you turn into the driveway.

Giving actually makes us feel good because we get what researchers call a ‘helpers high’ and studies show that kinder people actually live longer, healthier lives.

These are my themes for 2017 – what are you working on?

Calm, Happiness and Balance

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On the first day of every year it is unbelievably tempting to lay down the New Year resolutions isnt it? It is the very first question asked by EVERYONE you stumble across in the beginnings of the new year and there is always unspoken pressure to come up with a list that is unusual, different and a cut above the rest. Isnt it curious that despite declaring grand plans for ones self, usually related to physical shape, size and well-being, beyond February no-one bothers to mention said resolutions again? The reason is simple, by the second month of the year they are a mere memory as very few people actually carry out and maintain their stated resolutions.

According to Mark Murphy, author of “Hard Goals: The Secret of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”, people set goals all the time but 70% never end up getting carried out in any significant way. There is no doubt that most of us are aware of conventional wisdom that tells us goal setting should be SMART (specific, measurable,achievable, realistic and time limited). However, Murphy says that the key factor in sticking with resolutions isn’t that the goals aren’t clear or measurable, its that people don’t care enough about them. He does have a point when you consider that so many of our New Year resolutions are connected to our eating and exercise habits yet so few of us actually implement the desired changes on a monotonously annual basis. Mark Murphy believes that goals need to be HARD – heartfelt, animated, required and difficult to be successful. A great example of this is aiming to quit smoking because you know you should as opposed to quitting because it means you will be able to play with your kids and watch them grow up. Its all about having emotional skin in the game.

My good friend Trudy is a Deputy Principal at a busy primary school, wife and mother of two and like many of us juggles a variety of balls, some of which inevitably fall to the ground at times. In January she came up with a plan of attack for the year and designed her very own manifesto for 2013. A manifesto is defined as “A public declaration of a plan or intentions” which covers it quite nicely as Trudy has declared to all that she is simply aiming for Calm, Happiness and Balance in her life. Although a manifesto could be interpreted as a rework of goals, it can be used as an anchor to remind you of what you are trying to achieve by using a number of simple words that can be written in opportune places  (diary, phone, computer or other device, steering wheel – very important if you are choosing calm, or fridge) to remind you.

What is your personal HARD manifesto for 2013?