New Year Resolutions are Crap and You Shouldn’t Bother

For many years I’ve made the same half-assed resolutions- this year will be the year that I remember to write my appointments in my diary (or, save them into my icalendar), and this year I will arrange my folders on my hard drive so I can actually find things. As yet, after years of declarations, neither has magically happened and I’ve given up. Clearly, despite my organised and slightly control-freak nature, these two things will continue to elude me. I would screenshot my ‘Documents’ folder on my hard drive to prove precisely how much this eludes me, but I would embarrass myself. (As an aside, anyone who has worked with me can attest to my beautifully organised file structure and my meticulous arrangement of work systems.  Apparently I can have either work or my personal life organised, not both!)

I’ve always said that new years day is just another day. If you can’t resolve to do something on any other arbitrary day of the year, it’s highly likely that rolling into another year will not make even the slightest of difference. You will still have five extra kilograms. You still won’t run a marathon. You will still yell at your husband when he hasn’t put the washing away after you’ve asked him FIVE TIMES.  Beyond that first burst of enthusiasm, it will rapidly burn out and then you’re left paying a gym membership you don’t use and additionally, feel guilty every time you see the direct debit come out of your bank account.

There are lots of articles about how to make resolutions that stick and I call bullshit. Most of us don’t have the time or willpower to make drastic changes in our lives. So I suggest that this year, if you must, that you do two things that will make your world a far better place.

1. Be grateful. Every day, as you go to bed, think of something that you were grateful for. Seeing a friend, a smile from the cute barista, or the really good coffee he makes, that the sun shone, that your children didn’t kill each other, that your wife cooked your favourite meal, I don’t know, find something. Really. Studies have shown if you are just a *little* bit grateful every day, you’re happier (stuff about neurotransmitters and dopamine here). I try to do this every day. I’ll be honest- some days, the thing I’m grateful for is clean sheets, or that I saw a Monty Python skit on YouTube that made me laugh. Some days, I really have to scratch around for some semblance of gratefulness. But there is always something.

I believe life is made up of a million small things that you have to find joy in. Let’s be honest, clean sheet Saturday is a very good day. (Sheets dried on the washing line, all crisp and smelling of fresh air, tumble-dried sheets aren’t nearly as good).

So, go find something every day that was good. That you were grateful for.

I saw a cute thing on Facebook where you write the Good Thing down on a bit of paper and put it in a jar, so you can reflect on it at the end of the year. That is a lovely idea but requires thought, planning, a jar, paper, and a pen, and all of those things seem like a lot of effort. Lying in bed and thinking of something seems a lot simpler and is more likely to get done… which segues nicely to point #2 below.

2. Just make a little change. Even a flood must start with a single drop of rain. Every marathon is just a series of single steps. Every kilogram you want to lose is just stepping away from that wedge of cheese one time, or refusing to walk down the chocolate aisle at the grocery store.

I don’t know what you want to have happen in your life. I suspect my goals and yours are wildly different. You (and I) need to pick a set of small sustainable goals that lead you to your goal, and do one of them. If you want to run a marathon, maybe you go for a walk every night. Or start doing 1km runs twice a week. (Actually the Couch to 5KM program is awesome if that is your goal!) If you want to lose weight, maybe you drink more water daily. Or swap out Coke for water. Or try to eat one more serving of vegetables each day. If you want to arrange your file structure on your hard drive better, maybe you tidy up one folder each week.

Someone wise once told me that if you don’t have goals, then you’re not aiming anywhere, and you’re going to end up exactly there-anywhere. Nowhere. It’s important to have goals but I remain thoroughly unconvinced that 60 seconds difference from 2016 to 2017 is going to make any difference to how effectively you achieve something. But, if you are determined to pick January 1 2017 as a starting point for a journey to a goal, start with a small and achievable goal.

So, my friends, go out and do wild things tonight. (For the parents reading this, that means you’ll have a glass of wine and go to bed at 11pm instead of 10.30pm). Let me know what your resolution is and what thing you’re going to do towards it. Then when you’ve done it, tell me all about it because I truly rejoice in other people winning their battles, no matter how minor it might appear.

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