New Year Resolutions

This is the time of the year when most of us become rather contemplative and introspective.  We look over our lives, particularly the past year and evaluate, judge or grade ourselves.  Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back and other times we beat ourselves up. After this, we make resolutions to change our ways.

Why do we make New Year resolutions?  Why do we keep some (hopefully) and not others?  How can we evaluate our lives to choose good resolutions that we will follow through on during the following 12 months? 

We make resolutions about things or behaviors we identify in our lives that we want to change.  Our motive is that we believe these changes will have a positive effect on our life in the future.  They might also be called goals.  These resolutions, goals or objectives provide a destination or end point we would like to reach.  Earl Nightingale has said that “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal or goal.”  Unless you are clear on what you would like to accomplish and are making step-by-step progress toward your goals, you cannot be truly happy.  Brian Tracy in his excellent book GOALS! wrote “Setting goals, working toward them day by day, and ultimately achieving them is the key to happiness in life.  Goal setting is so powerful that the very act of thinking about your goals makes you happy, even before you have taken the first step toward achieving them.”  Read that again and consider it carefully.  It is the journey to and not the destination itself that creates the feeling of happiness.  It is the thought of actually taking control of your life that generates the desire and enthusiasm to accomplish the needed tasks.

It is helpful to have goals for each of the following categories: health; family; relationships; work and finances.  In order to have any chance of keeping a goal(s), it must be congruent and reflect your true values.  It is not what other people think is important but rather what you believe is most important that is critical in establishing goals and objectives for your life.  Think about each of these categories and determine what you value most and create a list for each.  This process will be most effective if you get out a pen and paper and write everything down.  First, list the categories in order of importance to you.  Then, start with contemplating the most important category on your list and begin to list what actions you might take to improve your actions or choices within that category.  Continue the same process for each group.  Create additional categories as needed.  Don’t think too much at first–just quickly write everything down that pops into your mind regarding each category and subcategory.  You will likely refine your list later, organizing it in order of importance.  Remember, this list is yours and yours alone.   Consider it private.  You do not have to share it with anyone, unless you want to.  It reflects what is important to you and the actions you can take to make improvements regarding yourself or situation.  It is all about YOU changing and taking action and not about anyone else.  Remember, only you have control over your own thoughts and actions. 

Taking the time to do this is very enlightening but not always easy.  Most people will never bother to do it and as a result will continue to drift aimlessly through life.  It is said that only about 3% of people will actually take the time to figure out what they really want and refer to their goal list often enough to keep them on track.  Most people spend more time planning a vacation or even a grocery list than planning where they would like to go in life.  Sad but true.  Don’t let this be you.  Join the 3% and take control of your life.  

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