I love the idea of turning over a new leaf, of starting afresh. I think it’s good that we all have a cue as the year comes to a close to ask ourselves, “What would I like to change about my life? How could it be better than before?” Most of us have a list of things we’d like to do better — exercise more, sleep more, have more fun, get more done, eat better, drink more water, get a new job, find time to relax, spend time with family and friends…
The list can be endless. After all who doesn’t want to be happier, more productive and generally a better person?
Sometimes though I’m guilty of trying to do too much, taking on too much then feeling bad when I don’t manage to stick to it all. Sound familiar?
So last year rather than set resolutions as such I got a great idea from Gretchen Rubin
who wrote The Happiness Project – choose ONE WORD which summarises the essence of what you want to find in the new year, an overarching theme for the entire year. Genius!
I chose Spaciousness. I wanted to create or find some time and space in a life that felt too crazy busy, with not enough time spent with friends and family. I wrote the word on a post-it note [link] and stuck it to the screen of my laptop so that every day when I opened it up it was there to remind me. And as soon as I read it I’d feel more space, I’d feel like I’d taken a huge big breath of fresh clean air. It was there in the background of every action I took and every decision that I made. Now, I can’t say that I actually found more space and calm in my schedule. In fact, I think my life got even busier over the year. But what changed every time I read my post-it was how I felt.
I’ve been giving some thought to what word to choose for this new year coming – as always there’s so much I want to achieve!!!
I finally chose Gratitude for 2016. While focusing on all the ways I can improve my life can be a great thing I think it’s important to balance this with all the things that are right in my life.
And that’s where the Gratitude Jar comes in. I first heard of this idea a few years ago, I think from Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love, and I loved it right away. The idea’s simple. Starting 1st January I’ll write good things that happen to me on little pieces of paper – surprise gifts, accomplished goals, the beauty of nature, LOL moments, memories worth saving, daily blessings. I’ll put them in a jar then on December 31st open the jar and read all the amazing things that happened in just one year.
There’s loads of inspiring Gratitude Jar stories online and here’s a couple of lovely ones I found:
And here’s Gretchen Rubin talking about her word for 2016 (well it’s two, but I’ll let it go|!)
If we are going to make some changes in our lives and make those changes stick there’s a few things we can do so that we don’t follow the crowd and abandon our best intentions by the end of January!
Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, tracked 5,000 people as they attempted to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. His team found that those who failed tended not to have a plan and some focused too much on the downside of not achieving their goal, adopted role models, fantasised about their goal or relied on will power alone. The 10% of participants in the study who had achieved their target broke their goal into smaller goals and felt a sense of achievement when they achieved each one.
Here’s a few suggestions to get you thinking:
1) Be specific
Resolving to eat more healthily is far too vague. What do you really mean? Are you asking yourself to eat breakfast, pack a lunch, stop eating take away food, cook dinner from fresh ingredients or to stop drinking fizzy drinks?
2) Track your progress
You might have a chart on the fridge, post weekly updates on Facebook or find an app that helps you monitor your behaviour – here’s some Apps (thanks to a great, irreverent but very useful article from the Guardian Abandon resolutions. Stop looking for a soulmate. Reject positive thinking) to get you started WaterWorks for monitoring your water-drinking, FoodTrackerPro to help monitor your food intake,TimeJot to help you log time spent or the Zeo sleep-monitoring machine, which can tell you how much high-quality deep sleep you’re getting each night!
3) Celebrate the small stuff
Reward yourself with healthy(!) treats to acknowledge and reward each small step along the way. If you do break your resolution today, try again tomorrow.
Here’s to thriving in 2016!