Let’s face it, the success rate of New Year resolutions is not that great.
Just compare the empty parking spaces at a gym in August compared to January. It’s difficult to change old habits. My hope for you in 2018 is that you have success in achieving a goal that you consider important to your personal and/or professional well-being.
More intelligent people than I have written on the subject, but I believe resolutions fail in part because our goals are superficial, unrealistic and/or the process is too self-centered. A favorite mantra of mine is “life by the inch is a cinch, but by the yard is hard.” Does it really make sense to set a goal of losing 15 pounds in a month when you have spent the past year gaining twice as much?
It also becomes easier to break the resolution when the only person affected is yourself. What if you established a promise for improvement in which failure had a negative impact on others? That would be much more difficult to break given others are depending on you to perform.
There is a multitude of worthy resolutions one can set, but a Twitter post that has been making the rounds of late struck a chord with me. The post said people can achieve a life of happiness through seven relatively simple actions. They include:
- Don’t show off. Those constantly seeking attention may receive it. In fact, it might provide quite an emotional rush. But the thrill is short-lived as people can easily identify the attention-seekers, and suddenly they quit giving you any attention. Over time, you become worse off than before.
- Talk less. Are you the town gossip? Do you have an opinion on everything and everybody? If so, after a while, people will not want to listen to you or provide the platform for you to share your thoughts. There’s no joy when people aren’t listening to you or engaging in thoughtful conversation.
- Learn daily. Humans are naturally inquisitive. We want to expand our horizons and expose ourselves to new experiences. But if we get in a rut and don’t push ourselves, we become complacent and caught in a downward spiral of discontentment. Seek a lifestyle of continuous improvement.
- Help the less fortunate. We hear it time and time again. When we help others, we get as much out of it, if not more, than those we help. If we commit to helping others, we are more likely to follow through for fear of letting them down. Plus, we end up being happier for doing it.
- Laugh more. Did you know it takes less work to smile than to frown? That’s right, it takes fewer muscles to make the lips curve up rather than down. Take time to spread some cheer or even laugh at yourself. You’ll find that is a trait that others like about you.
- Ignore nonsense. Too often we get bogged down by what others believe or say, when it actually has no bearing on our lives. We see this play out on our social media feeds. Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling on your smartphone, reading inconsequential comments on Twitter or Facebook? Or worse yet, do you find yourself replying to them and getting yourself in trouble? Do not sweat the small stuff. There are bigger fish to fry and better uses of your time elsewhere.
- Do not seek entitlement. Because of background, position or lot in life, we can get caught up in believing that we deserve certain outcomes or advantages. It can start small and slowly build in expectation to the point of being unrealistic. Then what happens when we do not receive what we expect? Disappointment sets in and our attitude sours. Accomplishing a goal through hard work brings satisfaction and contentment.
Few emotions are more powerful than happiness. When it is present, we tend to be more successful, have better relationships, and are more positive in our outlook and how we impact others.
But the search for happiness does not have to be difficult, nor does one have to give great sacrifice to achieve it.
Often we find that long-lasting joy comes through simple activities that will have a profound affect not only on ourselves, both also on others, too.
That’s a resolution worth pursuing.