After reading that only eight per cent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, I’m hesitant to write this post. Heck, I’m proof of the failure of resolutions: last year I only read four of the seven books I committed to reading. And I’m pretty sure I’ve said to myself “I should do more yoga this year” on more than occasion on a New Years’ day.
Apparently we fail in achieving our goals for several reasons: our goals aren’t “SMART” enough – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. We’re not accountable enough either, making it too easy to conveniently “forget” all those little promises you made on January 1. Tell the world you’re going to do something, and studies show you’re more likely to do it.
But more often than not, I feel every time I haven’t achieved my goals it has always boiled down to one, simple thing: I didn’t want it bad enough.
Despite the statistical hopelessness in setting New Year’s resolutions, I find there’s still something compelling about turning over a new page in a new chapter. I always take the final few, quiet moments of the year to gather my thoughts for the past year and make promises for the year ahead.
Rather than setting lofty, unmeasurable goals (that I probably won’t keep), I’ve instead mused over the things I really, really want in my life this year – not just those things I feel lukewarm about.
Here they are: things I really, really want for the year ahead: –
1. A daily practice. Being a freelancer for the last four years, I’ve lost a sense of routine. There’s something liberating about waking up with an unscripted day ahead of you, but it can also make you feel a little unanchored. In 2015 I felt there were times I started floating away from the shore.
For the last few weeks of 2015 I started waking up and doing 5 to 10 minutes of yoga stretches, followed by noting down the things I’m grateful for. I made my own little notepad of how I’d like to structure my day and things I want to tick off. It may not be the same as reporting to work for the 9 to 5 grind, but it’s a great way to start the day, so I think I’ll stick to it.
2. Become a better writer. I watched Senna last night (brilliant film), and was struck by the F1 legend’s commitment to always improve himself. It made me realise I wanted – badly – to be better. At everything, but to start with I wanted to be better at the very thing I hold myself out as: a writer.
How does one become a better writer? It’s simple: write and read more. Starting now (literally!)
3. Be kind. To the world around me, by being more aware of the waste I create and the effect of the food I eat. To others — and that includes humour-cloaked-in-cutting remarks I know I sometimes make, perhaps a little too often. Being funny shouldn’t have to mean taking away from other’s fun, or making someone else feel bad about themselves.
But, above all, I would like to be kinder to myself this year, in my thoughts and my actions. I feel I can get so wrapped up in a mentality of “musts” sometimes that I can forget to be kind to myself. My plan this year is to smile and laugh at myself a bit more.
4. Be healthier. This one is simple: eat well, sleep well, drink less, laugh more and exercise often. Life is nothing without health.
5. Stop saying sorry. I’m the kind of person that inserts a “sorry” anywhere I possibly can. When people bump into me – “sorry”; when I can’t make a social occasion for completely valid reasons – “I’m soooo sorry”- or sometimes just to avoid conflict. This point relates to #3 and being kind to myself. Sometimes it is absolutely essential to say you’re sorry. But if saying sorry means you are not standing up for yourself for the sake of someone else’s happiness, it’s not on in 2016.
6. Value myself. Which is a lot like being kind, I guess, but to me it means something more. It’s about selflessly putting myself first. Putting a dollar sign on my time and a power meter on my energy. Realising my limits. There is only 24 hours a day, and I like to sleep for at least 8 of them. The rest I need to earn a living and spend time with the people I love — and sometimes that means simply not spending time with the people I don’t have time for.
Some days I wish I could multiply myself, achieve a million things, and make everybody happy. But in 2016 I have to realise doing everything and loving everyone means I love one important person less: me. And she’s all I’ve got for a lifetime, so I’m going to take care of her.