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NO NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS - But I can be better every day

If you are a person who made a New Year's resolution, are you still hanging in there as we approach mid January?

I am not one to set resolutions. It seems to be too much pressure! Statistics vary about the percentage of people who actually keep their resolutions - for instance, points out that a study in 2016 found that only 9% of people felt they were successful in keeping their resolutions while David Robson of the BBC Worklife (, in an article entitled Are New Year's Resolutions Powerful or Pointless? cites a YouGov survey that found that 35% of people kept all of their resolutions while 50% adhered to some of their resolutions. I am sure that there are many variables - for example, the nature, the feasibility, and the preciseness of the goals, as well as the dedication of, and the importance to, the individual.

David Robson suggests that 'New Year's resolution' should be reframed as a 'fresh start', as this appears to have a more motivating effect on people to change their behaviour. That seems way less rigid than a 'resolution'! The good thing about a 'fresh start' is that it does not have to happen just at New Year's - it can happen anytime, and probably should occur every day.

As I entered retirement in July, my 'fresh start' was to try to implement a greater awareness or cognition into how I filled my minutes, hours, and days because work life did not give me time to think. To me, a greater awareness precludes the need to set goals or 'resolutions' because we are living a 'rich' life every day.

Hey, I am under no illusions! I do not think I (or anyone) will ever achieve a full state of “mindfulness” (which describes as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”) or a new level of “conscious living” (which describes as "essentially the process of becoming more aware of yourself, learning to listen to what your mind and body need and making more informed and considered decisions in your daily life based around these factors”) or a new level of “living purposefully” (which describes as “when you are moving towards a big goal in your life that aligns with your values, passions and makes you happy”). It seems somewhat presumptuous and 'uppity' and too much pressure, WAY too much pressure, to say we are 100% all of these. (We are all human which means some short comings and failures, despite our best intentions.)

So, there is always room for improvement, and each one of these ways to live a life (mindfully, consciously, or purposefully) holds some good tips about how to live a more 'present' and 'rich' life., in an article by Rachel Sharpe entitled Mindful Living: 16 Ways to Live Mindfully in 2022, identified some daily tips to practice:

1. Cook Your Meals (so you can be aware of what you are putting in your body)

2. Eat Slowly (this brings awareness to the taste, the texture)

3. Look Up When You Walk (what do you notice? watch life happening)

4. Listen to Others (it makes you focus on the moment)

5. Notice Content You Consume (make it positive, set aside social medica for a bit)

6. Watch Life Outside Your Window (appreciate what is happening around you)

7. Practice Meditation (this can be a formal meditation or simply making quiet time each day)

8. Track Your Habits (identify the good – and the not so good!)

9. Experience Movement (walk, run, dance . . . )

10 . Recognize How You Communicate (what do you say and how do you say it?)

11. Live a Life of Non-Attachment (focus on the things that really matter – and they are not material possessions)

12. Show Appreciation of Others Daily (thank someone, write a letter, make a phone call, praise someone)

13. Wake up Early (simply because you are ALIVE!)

14. Accept Things As They Are (some things are beyond our control – we can only control how we react)

15. Be Kind (do something nice every day)

16. Pause and Reflect (how are you spending the day? What was your behaviour like? How did you treat others? – live and learn), in an article from 2020, Six Steps to Conscious Living in 2020, suggests that we:

1. Practice Meditation or Yoga (this can just mean sitting still for five minutes)

2. Get to Know Yourself (what do you want from life? What are your strengths - and weaknesses?)

3. Accept Yourself (if we do not accept who we are, we look too much for affirmation from others)

4. Try to Spend Your Time Wisely (get something out of every day, do a hobby, look after yourself)

5. Learn to be Grateful (turn your mind to a positive mindset – even negatives have some positives)

6. Learn to Make More Conscious Decisions (how will your decisions impact you and others and the world?)

Finally,, in an article entitled 7 Steps to Live a More Purposeful Life by Sarah Kristenson, gave us the following tips:

All of these tips and suggestions (there are many similarities), are a good reminder of how to live a 'richer' life, especially in retirement when we have so much more time to think, to really think, about how we are filling each day. (I'm 'acing' some, and others, well, not so much!)

When we look at these lists, we can see why the majority of people do not follow New Year's Resolutions. It's just too overwhelming when looked at as a whole. We might just want to pick one or two of the simple habits or tweaks that we can add to our daily life (maybe you simply want to look up when you walk!).

Others will take much more effort and thought and dedication because they involve our basic values and thoughts. Like life, it is an ongoing process, not to be accomplished in one day. If you do want to go 'hog wild' as they say on the farm, you could do a full self-evaluation as a starting point. I was always impressed with the idea of a "moral inventory" that my clients in human services completed in their self-help programs, and I often commented that it is something we should all do in our lives, to some extent. (Just 'search' the fourth step of a 12-Step Program for more information or look up any of the self-evaluation exercises that are on line.) But, forewarning - this self-evaluation can be a really heavy process and might dig up some emotional aches and pains, so do it correctly and be sure there are lots of 'positives' in it!

So, I like the idea of a 'fresh start' as opposed to 'New Year's Resolutions'. We can have a 'fresh start' every day as we work towards a 'richer' life. I am not going to try to be 100% a 'changed person' (again, too much pressure!), but I am going to try to be a bit more mindful, a bit more conscious, and a bit more purposeful by considering all of these suggestions. Some days, I might put a lot of thought into my thinking and my actions. Other days, I'll just look up when I walk.

I hope you found some little thing in here that is helpful to you, too.


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