We’re three weeks into 2017 and so much has happened already, in my life and around the world. The hoopla of New Year’s Eve seems like a distant memory and I’m wondering quite seriously if it was worth all the parties, fireworks, prayers and solemn resolutions.
Ah, yes, the resolutions. Remember those? The ones that you were going to stick to; the ones that would change your life for ever. You were going to be slimmer, fitter, healthier, wealthier, kinder, more spiritual and more successful; and somehow, you were going to be happier. So, how’s it going? Are you still exercising regularly, sticking to your diet, working on that business plan or planting those seeds that will bear fruit eventually? For your sake, I hope you’ve had the discipline and fortitude to keep going on your chosen path.
However, for many people, this is a ritual that plays out annually in a familiar cycle of: make resolutions – get a great start – struggle to continue – give up – feel guilty – restart – struggle some more – meet obstacles that become excuses – slip into old habits – feel year-end regret – make more resolutions. Other people seem to be able to make similar resolutions, follow them through, surmount the challenges and just keep going until they succeed. What makes the difference between both camps – is it talent, privilege or just plain luck?
With the end of 2016 fast approaching, I decided that I was going to ignore the new year and forego parties, cross-over church services, the setting of resolutions and anything else that would make it into such a special occasion. Instead, I thought about all that had happened throughout the year, what I had learned and how I could apply the lessons. Then, I considered any uncompleted plans or projects, and did something very simple – I got to work. By December 31st, I had written a couple of chapters for my new book, completed a proposal for a new business and presented the idea to potential partners.
On New Year’s Day, I went for a 4km run, had fresh fruits for breakfast, ate a healthy lunch, and simply continued working on my projects. In other words, it was business as usual. I didn’t feel the need to change very much about my life, in terms of habits, because I’m already doing the things that will lead to the change I really want – an improvement in my outcomes. My life is a work in progress and I’m enjoying the work.
Make no mistake – 2016 was a tough year in many ways and sometimes it was a real struggle. But, it was also full of opportunity and fulfilled promise. I published my first book, moved to a new city and began working with a media company that is changing the face of television and film in Africa. There was no shortage of people who were kind, patient, encouraging and inspirational. Tough times are just temporary circumstances and they are inevitable; how long they last is up to you.
So, here’s my take on New Year resolutions:
- Only commit to goals that can be achieved through lifelong habits – there are no quick-fixes for worthwhile changes
- Write them down and post them in a visible place – your bathroom mirror, work desk or home screen on your phone
- Find a compelling reason WHY you have to achieve your goal – the pleasure if you do and the pain if you don’t
- Share your aspirations with a supportive friend, relative or spouse – ask them to hold you accountable
- If you can persevere for three months, any regular practice becomes a habit – schedule it
- Have fun. Find healthy foods you like, exercise by playing games you enjoy and do work you find fulfilling
- Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve – life never stops and no magic happens when the calendar changes
I would love to hear from you, to find out how you deal with this aspect of your life. Share what you can and we’ll compare notes in 12 months!
“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” Anaïs Nin, French-Cuban Author