“Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses. How many of your New Year’s resolutions have been about fixing a flaw?”
– Jonathan Haidt
On New Years Eve just after midnight, my wife asked our teenager and I what our New Year’s resolutions are and that got me thinking. I’m famously very very bad at this.
Like. Really bad.
My resolutions in the past have always been about fixing a flaw, which is why I like this quote and why this year I wanted to change things up a bit. My wife’s advice, naturally because she is a superstar and very good at setting herself goals, was to set S.M.A.R.T goals (more on those here, pretty good for meetings!) so that by the end of the year I could measure success.
But I’m going a slightly different direction with 2020. It’s a big year and I would like to change for the better this year, but I should point out early that I’m happy. I’m happy with how I am, who I have in my life and my work. Contentedness is not to be feared, it doesn’t mean that you have just accepted a fate and you’re going to sit back and let it happen, and it’s not to be underestimated because it means that you can more easily fight the stresses of everyday life. I realize I need to lose some weight, but that’s not really a NYR, it’s a lifestyle change down purely to how I eat/drink and move.
So after some thought, here are my 3 New Year’s resolutions:
1 – Spend more quality time with those who mean the most to me
I have the most amazing family. My wife is incredible; people meet her thinking I’m nice and then they’re like “Ooh Chris is an OGRE by comparison!”. Our teenager is wonderful; she’s smart and driven and just generally going to smash 2020, of that I’m sure. My sisters, mum & step-dad, dad & step-mum, best friend and my close group of friends enrich my life and without them I would be no where near as happy and fulfilled as I am today.
I want to make sure I prioritize time with all of them when making decisions, but that’s not to say I’m going to be able to spend a lot MORE time with them necessarily – I will certainly try, but I want the time spent with them to be quality time. That means putting my phone down more often, listening better and offering help where it may be needed, making a conscious decision to work on my relationships and to think more about what I’m saying and doing to try and make their lives as wonderful as they make mine.
So this decision isn’t SMART in the sense it’s not really measurable. But it’s a conscious choice I’ve made and one I have already started to work on.
2 – Do more of what I love / be good to me
This may seem in direct conflict (or indeed the same as) the previous resolution, but it is in fact very different. The goal of this resolution is to take some of the time that was otherwise “dead zone”. You get 168 hours in 1 week – take away 56 hours for sleep at least, 40 hours for work, 10 for commuting and 2 hours a day (14) for sundries like showering, getting ready, food prep etc. and what are you left with? 48 FULL hours! What do I even DO with that?
I don’t even know.
But it’s time that changed. I’m going to do more of what I love, like blogging, cooking, walking, playing video/board games, learning Romanian and spending time with friends / calling loved ones. From now on, I’m going to walk in the door from work, or wake up on weekends and I’m going to ask myself how long I have before bed and how I want to utilize that and it’s going to be something that ultimately makes me smile.
Again, not super measurable, but a concerted effort to choose to be happier is going to do a world of good for me and everyone around me.
3 – Be a better human
Ok, this one is kind of an obvious one but I feel if you don’t specifically address it and call it out then it’s almost like you’re not taking accountability for it.
I’ve made concerted efforts over the past year to be vegan, primarily on the grounds of trying to lead a cruelty free lifestyle, but the one animal I want to help this year more so than ever (and we jolly well need it) is ‘people’.
As we enter 2020 we enter an era of unprecedented change. The climate is at crunch point, Brexit is causing a huge amount of uncertainty and people are struggling to be happy, healthy and loved.
So this point is a very simple one. I want to take every opportunity to:
a) Make a climate conscious decision – greener choices from removing single use plastics to ethical, sustainable foods and beauty products.
b) Volunteer for and donate to more charities who are helping the planet or helping those in need and don’t necessarily have the ability to help themselves
c) Make someone smile. Simple as. Try to spread some of the happiness wherever possible.
This is perhaps the simplest resolution in terms of scope, as every action is easily definable, but it’s going to the the hardest to enact. So that’s why this isn’t a SMART goal, because if I manage to do at least a little bit of the above, certainly more so than I have done in previous years, then I’m moving in the right direction and adding a little positivity and sparkle to the world.
So those are my resolutions
I decided I don’t really want them to be measurable because I don’t want to compare me as I am to my ideal version of myself. The moment I compare me to how I wish I was, I feel regret or shame for not achieving that ideal, two things no person should feel, because we should focus on our triumphs. If you have struggled with shame in the past, I highly recommend this video from Brené Brown.
Happy New Year! So. What’re your New Years resolutions?