It's that time of year again, where many of us reflect on the past year and resolve to make changes for the year ahead and become a better, richer, slimmer, healthier, more successful person. The top ten resolutions for New Year include:
- Eat better
- Exercise more
- Spend less money
- Take more care of yourself - including get more sleep
- Read more books
- Learn a new skill
- Get a new job
- Make new friends
- Get a new hobby
- Focus more on appearance
It's likely that by the 5th January, many of these will already have been broken!
Whilst it is usually a good thing to review where you are in your life and assess what changes you need to make for a well balanced life, it is important to be able to identify what really makes you happy and recognise both the benefits and downsides to your goals and be realistic about your ability to achieve them.
Whilst giving up your job to travel around the world might seem like a dream come true, it is important to be mindful of the practicalities of such a major life change and not take any drastic action before proper planning and assessment of the situation has been completed. For example, how will you manage financially? What steps do you need to take to ensure your personal safety? How will your family feel about this decision? Are there people who currently rely on you and will need to have alternative arrangements made for them? What will you do when you get back? Simply marching in to your boss on the 2nd January with your resignation letter may not be the wisest of moves. Likewise, you may wish to consider previous travel experiences and evaluate where and why you want to travel. Running away from problems is unlikely to resolve them.
Some resolutions are too large to contemplate. Break your goal down into smaller, more manageable tasks. If you know you need to lose 3 stones to reach a healthy weight, be realistic about what is possible and advisable. Plan to lose a smaller amount in the first month, or join a weight management group, get a personal trainer, or make a weekly eating and exercise plan. If you wander away from the plan for a day, don't give up, accept that changing life habits is hard, and resolve not to make the situation worse by giving up and start afresh the next day.
The other element to increasing your chances of success is to have a precise and definite plan. If you want to eat more healthily, think about your current diet, which elements you would like to reduce or increase, research recipes for your new way of eating and ensure that it is realistic in terms of money and time. Plan meals, shop effectively and try to identify triggers for your weaker moments and how you can avoid them. A period of introspection and self-assessment is vital if you any of your resolutions are to make you happier. If you find it difficult to be honest with yourself, perhaps find someone to talk to who you know will be really honest with you. This may even be an independent professional who is trained to help you identify what you need to change to be happier.
Finally, try to remember that happiness is a state of mind. Therefore, although there are physical and practical things which can adversely affect our state of mind, essentially by addressing your mental wellbeing first, it is likely that your happiness may improve and other changes could naturally follow. For example, if you overeat because of low self-esteem, addressing your view of yourself will have more of an impact than joining a gym and never going because your feel too self-conscious to use the equipment or wear the sportswear
Here are a few ideas for resolutions to improve things for you and the world around you, which may be more achievable and beneficial than worrying about your appearance or getting new hobbies!
Be grateful for what you have
As you read this on your smartphone, safe and warm in your home or workplace, try to recognise the positives in your situation. Many people in this world don't have food, shelter, work, or freedom. In the western world, you are among some of the most fortunate of people on earth so try to see the positives in your situation and be thankful for what you have instead of complaining about what isn't right about your life. This simple change can affect your outlook on everything and improve your happiness on a daily basis. Some find it useful to take time to think of one thing to be thankful for each day, or each time you think of something to be thankful for, put a note in a jar. On 31st December open the jar and review all of your blessings.
Be kinder to others
We are human. From time to time we are all annoying, selfish, judgemental or make mistakes. We are quick to excuse our own behaviour but even quicker to condemn others. Try switching this around. Look for the good in people and reasons why they may act in ways that you don't like. Show patience, compassion and understanding with others as you would want them to show to you. Relax and try not to get upset about superficial things. Treat people how you would like to be treated and the odd act of kindness will promote a better world for all those who participate.
Be kinder to yourself
Take some time to think about your good qualities and reward yourself for them. If you are prone to being overcritical, don't listen to the negative thoughts and focus on the positives. If you have faults, resolve not to punish yourself for them, but instead to move on and try not to repeat mistakes. No-one is perfect. We can only try to be the best that we can be, remembering that the person inside is more important that our physical appearance.
This doesn't mean that we all need to enrol into nightschool and start studying for a degree, but it does mean that we need to keep an open mind. The world is a changing place and the people in it need to adapt and ensure that they are willing to listen to and take on board the ideas and opinions of others. Question what you are being told, question the morals of the status quo, and question how you can make a difference and change things for the better. Don't run off blindly spouting the opinions of someone else without really knowing the facts because you read something on social media, learn to analyse whether something is likely to be true, how to research facts thoroughly and find out as much about any topic as possible before forming an opinion. Be prepared to change your opinion if you discover something new about the topic. Remember, if you can't change your mind, who's to say you still have one?
Look after your world
Whether it's the small community where you live, or the planet as a whole, we can make a difference to improve things. If we do not, our environment will deteriorate and decline and be of less benefit to those living there. So do something to help your local community - plant a communal garden, clean off graffiti, visit lonely older people who don't see people often. Do something to ensure the survival of your planet - recycle, reduce the number of new things you buy, cut down on plastics, drive less, don't waste water or electricity. We have finite resources and an expanding population - there is enough to go round, but only if we use responsibly and share.
Look after your personal relationships
It's easy to take out your frustrations on the people you love the most, usually because they love you and will forgive your tantrums and unreasonable behaviour, but it's important to recognise what they tolerate from you and thank them for their understanding. Faced with too much negative behaviour, people will eventually decide that the balance of the relationship is not good for their personal wellbeing, so it's important that they know how much you love and appreciate them. Make sure they feel loved and valued - tell them whilst you still have the opportunity and try to treat them kindly and with respect. Whether familial, platonic or romantic, love can be the single most important factor in happiness, so resolve to look after love this year.
If you need to speak to someone to help you to identify what changes you need to make in order to be happier, contact CCC reception.
Peterborough 01733 553166 Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047