An alternative to New Year Resolutions
It’s that time again! Many of us are tempted to make a pile of well-intentioned resolutions. But I beg of you: please! Stop! Don’t do it!
Consider this: Has it worked in the past? Or are your resolutions gone and forgotten within anywhere from 10 days to 6 weeks as so many studies tell us? Remember Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result.
Instead, I recommend a simple 2-step exercise. You can spend 5 minutes on it, or 20, or call me and ask me to walk you through it. You don’t need to write anything down, but I always think that helps.
- Reflecting on the past year, determine the 3 best things that happened in your life. Yes: 3! It doesn’t matter if everybody you know died or lost their jobs or came down with beriberi, there were at least 3 good things in your life this past year, and probably more. And it doesn’t matter if somebody else’s 3 things are bigger or more spectacular than yours. Take a few minutes and think it through: what are your top 3? (Imagine the Jeopardy theme song in the background.)
Now, generally speaking, you can put your 3 items into either of 2 categories.
- Something over which you had control, like landing a big account or learning to knit.
- Something over which you had no control, like attending your daughter’s wedding in Portland. (No control because she did all the work, but you had an absolute blast.)
It doesn’t matter which category your items are in. For each of your items, consider why it was so great. Why was this a cause for celebration? What exactly is being celebrated? What did you overcome along the way? What did you learn from it? How did it change your life? What did you gain? And what did you do to make it happen? Can you do this again?
- Reflecting on the past year, determine the 3 worst things that happened in your life. Again: 3! Not 4 or 5 or 12 or 365 like I know some of you want to do, but 3. (A little more Jeopardy theme song, please.)
Again, you can probably put your 3 items into either of 2 categories.
- Something over which you had control, like losing a big account or running out of gas on the freeway in an ice storm.
- Something over which you had no control, like your daughter in Portland losing her job and getting divorced and moving back home with the kids. Your home, that is.
Again, it doesn’t matter which category your items are in. For each of your items, consider why it was so terrible. Why did you want to cry? What did you lose? What could you have done to prevent this? Can you be sure you won’t do that again? Was there any silver lining?
Finally, use what you’ve learned in this exercise as a benchmark against which you can gauge future possibilities. And be thankful for the progress, and the fun.
Happy New Year!