Resolutions that could vastly improve your life

Full length shot of an affectionate young couple relaxing with a glass of wine on the floor of their new home. [Photo: Courtesy]

Everyone feels the urge to make New Year resolutions: to exercise more, save money, lose weight, stop smoking, drink less…

…but only a few weeks later you’ll probably be slipping back into old habits already. And pretending the whole thing never happened.

So what would make you more successful? 

*Commitment mostly. And keeping track of your progress. Recognising your successes and not blaming yourself if you fall short. Not seeing one slip as total failure. Instead, look at what stopped you, and see what you could do better next time. If a goal seems impossible to reach, ask yourself what’s keeping you from achieving it, rather than giving up. And making adjustments as you go along. Most people restart several times.

* Your goals also have to be realistic, and totally within your control. Like deciding to get married this year isn’t a goal, it’s a wish. 

*Plan! Like if you’re resolving to start going to the gym, schedule specific dates and times. If your goal is spending less, set up a regular transfer to a savings account.

*Don’t set resolutions based on something external - society, friends, whoever - telling you to change. Choose something YOU want to change.  

The best resolutions are small things, like deciding to read more. Or to be nicer to strangers. They might sound simple, but that’s just the point. They make a difference - and when you realise you’re keeping them, you’ll be surprised at how good you feel!

So, instead of saying you won’t ever get angry again, resolve to get angry less often. To drive a little more considerately. Things like these actually work.

Resolutions that will improve the quality of your life

1. Resolve to speak to more strangers. Because almost everything important that ever happens to you starts with talking to someone new.

2. Resolve to stop tolerating bad dating behaviour. If he doesn’t call when he says he will, or she keeps cancelling dates, then move on.

3. Resolve to relax before bedtime: listen to music, or read, so your body winds down and you sleep better. 

4. Focusing on behavioural change is much more likely to be successful.  For example, if you decide to get in shape, your objective shouldn’t be losing a certain number of kilos, but sticking to your improved diet.

5. Resolve to understand your own emotions better. Learn what triggers your moods, how they affect those around you, how to read social situations and figure out what’s likely to happen next.

6. Resolve to set off in plenty of time so you can travel relaxed, knowing you’re not going to arrive late. Now you can enjoy the journey, and resist doing crazy things in the traffic. Start thinking of giving way to others as an act of kindness, and let the racers get out of your way. Just try it for a few days, and you’ll see how much more relaxed you feel, once you stop fighting every inch of the way.

In fact, why not be kinder in everything you do? Hold doors for people without expecting any thanks. Surprise your mum with a phone call.

7. Be mindful when you eat your meals, even if you’re alone. Don’t text. Don’t take calls. Don’t go on Facebook. Instead, always be conscious of the simple pleasures of what you’re eating.

8. TV and the internet portray an unreal world where everyone seems better looking, fitter, more intelligent and successful. Making you feel bad. So resolve to limit your exposure. Instead, try something creative: writing, making music, learning to draw.

9. Resolve to spend a few moments every day just being thankful for being alive. Enjoy the sunshine. Listen to the rain.

10. Resolve to interpret everything around you positively. Like the couple laughing at the bar and looking in your direction - why are they sniggering at you? Your crush who didn’t text all day - is it all over already?

12. It’s easy to beat yourself up and assume the worst about everyone around you. Instead put a positive spin on everything: that couple were just having a good time, and your crush is busy just like everyone else.

13. Modern society tells us that more is always better: money, possessions, status and success. Don’t get sucked in. Instead of focusing on what you’re missing, look at what you already have. Resolve to live a simpler life and build your savings. Because possessions don’t bring long-term happiness. Instead value simple experiences and concentrate on the moment. And then you can really start living.

 Resolutions to improve your relationship

If your life’s so chaotic you’re rarely together, resolve to organise things so you can relax and talk more often. Share your hopes and dreams, every day.

1. Promise yourself you’ll be patient with your spouse, even if you don’t always understand them.

 Decide to keep your sense of humour through everything.

2. Set a date for a night out at least once a month. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make time for each other and get out and about.

3. You can’t say ‘I Love You’ often enough! So resolve to tell your partner several times a day. Invent different ways of saying ‘I Love You’. Leave your partner a love note in the morning to find when they wake up. Lots of text messages. Write something passionate to them at least once a week.

4. Give each other surprises. Buy them something small at least once a month. Give your partner compliments, hold hands, open doors, and show your affection for one another in front of the children.

5. Do things together. Like a new hobby. Join a sports team. Take lessons. Make him lunch. Paint her toenails. Help wash his car. Help her with her chores. Show how much you care by doing something nice for your partner as often as you can!

Resolutions for success

1. Resolve to get up earlier. The majority of CEOs get up way before you!

2. Spend a little time each day meditating or self-reflecting, to clear your mind and sharpen your intuition.

3. Resolve to work really hard. Because a relentless work ethic is a common factor shared by all high achievers.

4. Resolve to maintain a tight schedule, and stick to it. Use every waking minute well - including the time you spend relaxing or with your family.

5. Make ‘to-do’ lists - but keep them really short. So that your focus is on each day’s specific key tasks. Usually no more than two or three high priority items in any one day.

6. Say no to almost everything that isn’t one of your priority tasks. Or which might get in the way of your key goals.

7. Avoid distractions. Disconnect from email, social media and phones whenever you need to focus on something important. Cut right back on meetings. Shut yourself right away from everyone else to do your most creative thinking.

‘8. Think backwards.’ First clearly visualise and define your ultimate goal, and then work back from there to specify all of the individual steps you’ll need to take to get there.

9. Repeat yourself a lot. Like anytime something works out well, find a way to do it again. But after the first time, focus on finding ways to cut corners. So that the job gets done faster, easier, and cheaper. But without cutting the quality of the result.

10. Focus on spotting anything that’s not working in your life - and cut it out. Fast.

Resolutions for a happier family

1. Keep your phone away and focus on your spouse and children when you get home. 

2. Spend some time with each of your child. That way, you are in touch with what is going on with them.

3. Create family traditions. Ones that will provide lasting memories to you and the children. It could be as simple as reading a book together before bed time, or going to church together every Sunday.

4. Have mealtimes together. 

5. Say ‘I love you’ to your spouse and children a lot more. 

6. Make plans that ensure that your family is secure financially.

7. Find opportunities to experience new things together.

The Standard
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