Starting The Year Well

2014-new-years-resolution-be-more-awesomeI still enjoy the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. What can I say? I like setting personal goals and challenging myself to improve. I suppose I could do it on any day of the year, but the New Year is as good a day as any. It’s a fresh start.” ― Hillary DePiano.

It is likely that one of the major reasons why you are reading this is that you are driven by a wish to be better. It is also the reason why so many of us make New Year resolutions. This, despite that fact that only 8% of us actually end up keep our resolutions! Doesn’t it say a lot about the human spirit that we want to make a fresh start every year, despite this statistic?

Most of the resolutions we make are about improving our lifestyle – losing weight or improving our diet, getting fitter, stopping smoking, saving more money, having less stress in our lives, drinking less and so on.

This year I have decided to make three resolutions that are a little bit outside the square:

– Start meditating (or meditate more regularly).

We can do this in a variety of ways but the essence is to take a period of time, say 20 minutes per day to focus on easing our minds, following our breath and relaxing.

There are now many studies showing that regular practice can make us happier, more creative, less anxious, may ease a whole range of health problems, boost our learning ability and it certainly helps me to have a more organized mind.

– Select something to stop doing.

Here I am not talking about stopping a bad habit but to stop something worthwhile that if you are honest you don’t have time for. It is clear that wwe are asked to do more and more all the time and we usually want to make sure that everything gets done. Managing time in this digital age does mean that we need to be strategic about what we abandon. One of the more effective ways to decide what we want  to stop doing is to list and rank the 10 most important roles we have and to resign from the bottom 2. For example, it may be to stop trying to arrange meetings with a friend who is very hard to help, or stopping a hobby or interest that no longer justifies the time you put into it.

– Make more allowances for other people.

A fact of our busy lives is that we cannot perform at a very high rate for every moment of the day. For example, we may have had to perform very effectively in a succession of meetings and also have deadlines for a big piece of work to be completed the next day. When we go home there may be something that will require your full attention, but it is likely that your mind may be somewhere else. What has happened to your ability to listen and engage? Psychologists refer to our ‘cognitive bandwidth’ in this instance.

We are all imperfect organisms prone to making bad decisions when stress, busy-ness and poverty rob us of ‘cognitive bandwidth’. It is not a time constraint but we are just not able to perform at the highest of levels all the time. So what do we do? In general we excuse our own behaviour as a result of special circumstances but do not make the same allowances for others. That is why third and final resolution to ‘cut some slack’ to others this year.

What resolutions or goals do you have for the year?

Whatever you plan to do this year, may 2015 be a year of inspiration and fulfillment.

“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.” 

― Charles M. Sheldon

Read more from Ron Tustin here