Looking for some meaningful New Year’s resolutions? If you feel like you’ve been making the same resolution year by year you can’t seem to keep, here are some tips you can try.
Meaningful New Year’s Resolutions
By Kathy Bernier
New Year’s resolutions — it’s time! Do you make them? Do you keep them?
If resolutions made by Americans were an accurate indicator of who we actually are, we would be a nation of thin, healthy, organized, educated, well-rounded, altruistic, agreeable non-smokers. We would watch very little television, be debt-free, travel a lot, and eat vegetables at every meal.
Those are the sort of things we plan to do when the new year rolls around. They are the easiest promises to make ourselves, but they are not always kept.
Sometimes people fall back on resolutions because they are convenient. The usual suspects are so common that it’s easy to just order them like they were a fast food menu. Maybe it goes something like this:
I’ll take the Big Weight Loss Meal, with a side of Exercise—and instead of the Gym can I do a Lap Swim? Or maybe just some a la carte items—let’s see, how about the Cut Down on Smoking selection? Oh, and that Eat More Vegetables special looks good.
That may or may not result in changing your life for the better. If you order up a batch of resolutions without giving them much thought, you might let go of them just as easily.
Whether you use this time of year for resolving to do things better or not, and whether you stick with them or not, have they made a real difference in your life? Ask yourself if your life is truly better than it was a year ago.
If it is—if you have indeed embarked upon a healthier and more rewarding life, huzzah! Even the tiniest efforts and successes are worth applauding.
If it isn’t, I have a few ideas about how you can make some real changes for the good.
First, the question that sets the stage for a discussion about how your New Year’s intentions can make a difference in your life—have your resolutions been worthwhile?
It might be useful to define “worthwhile”. I have identified four ways to help you do it.
1. Make it meaningful.
Embrace the philosophy of “make each day count”. In this age of fragile peace and heightened anxiety, there is no time like the present to fully immerse yourself in that which is most important to you. Don’t put off telling someone you love them, or placing a call, or offering an apology. Do it now. You have no way of knowing when it will be too late. Instead of watching your bucket list grow longer, start taking concrete steps toward making some must-do-somedays a reality. Hug, and listen, and breathe deeply.
You can translate this point into your resolutions by making an actual list of ways you can live each day to its fullest—communications you want to be better at, people you want to show more affection towards, and must-dos just to say you did them. Break it down into attainable steps if necessary. For example:
- Call Aunt Mary every week.
- Date nights every Wednesday with my spouse—call sitter today!
- Contact travel agency and book cruise.
Try to maintain a sense of urgency about what matters to you most. If you don’t make it a priority and treat it like you might not have many more chances to do it, it might not get done.
2. Make a difference in someone else’s life.
Will your coworker or child’s teacher or the cashier at the store be glad for an encounter with you? Be the type of person that others look to for cheer after a challenging day. Bring a smile to the faces of others. There is nothing like giving of yourself to give to yourself—knowing that the life of another is richer because of your purposeful actions or gifts is indescribably rewarding.
To make this happen in real life, resolve to treat people with respect, send thank-you notes, smile at strangers, send cookies to your spouse’s office, and offer an encouraging word to your buddy at community basketball who can never make a shot in the basket.
3. Live a life of gratitude.
Being thankful for what you have will solidify the positive feelings within. Even at times when you really need to be intentional about finding an element of your life for which you are grateful, it is worth making the effort to do so. We have all encountered people who are both happy and grateful, and it is easy to assume that they are grateful because they are happy. I think it is the other way around—happiness is the result of gratitude, not the cause of it.
On paper, resolutions of gratefulness can look like a simple list:
- My boss is difficult, but I have a job.
- My mom is critical, but I know she loves me.
- My old car need repairs again, but it is paid for.
I won’t pretend that gratitude in the face of adversity is easy. But resolutions are not supposed to be easy—they are supposed to be life-changing.
4. Make room for art, nature, and beauty.
I know that’s a mouthful, and covers a lot of ground. But I lump them together because there is such a large overlap among them. Art—painting, music, poetry, needlework, or sculpture—presents images of beauty and often emerges from nature. Nature, from a brilliant yellow squash blossom to a giant squid to a volcano, offers an assortment of beauty so broad it defies definition. Beauty is in the air we breath and in a fresh-baked apple pie and in the grizzled face of a man on the street.
Embrace these components of life not for the sake of fulfilling a duty or becoming more cultured. If you are going to the opera or the modern art museum out of obligation, don’t. If you’d really rather go to the classic rock tribute show, do. Life is too short to be let your entertainment be wrapped up in shroud of “should” and “must”.
Resolving to fulfill at least one of these four goals—being meaningful, making a difference to others, coming from a place of gratitude, or embracing art and nature and beauty—can contribute real value to your life.
They are all simple and basic, but are not always easy to do. Choosing resolutions like these for yourself won’t be anything like the ones you could pick off a list provided by the media—no easy fallback options here—but it’s about results.
This year, as you seek to increase meaning in your life, consider injecting some of the ideals you hold most dear into your New Year’s resolutions. Make a promise to yourself to follow your heart. When you have kept your promise and showed you’re the nature of your heart to the world around you, you will know that your resolutions have been worthwhile.
Need tips on how to make your New Year’s resolution stick? Then, check out this video from DocMikeEvans:
What do you think of these tips on making your New Year’s resolution? Let us know in the comments section what your thoughts are. Will you give it a try? Let us know how it went and share your experience with us in the comment section below.
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