“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ― Alfred Lord Tennyson
Very often during these last days of the year we start to evaluate how the current year was and to think and plan our resolutions for the new year. Frequently we complain about how unfavourable it was and how much we hope for a change during the coming year.
This kind of thought gives the impression that somehow we expect that all our problems and our sufferings, some of them caused by our inefficient behavioural patterns go away with the old year as if they naturally belong together.
At some point in my life I personally had that naïve belief that just thinking positively and wishing for a better tomorrow, things will change as if in doing so I was casting a powerful spell over my destiny. Many of us expect that magically the new year brings the solution to our problems, including a new considerate and more loving partner, more money, a better job, an improved physical appearance and of course a happier life.
Deep down, or maybe not so deep, we know that actually nothing is going to change and that the next year will continue just as the one finishing. And it is precisely for relying in just our thinking that things do not get better.
But hey, at least I am being positive and if I think positive, positive things will come!
The things we get in life when embracing positive thinking are not necessarily opposite to those we get when thinking negatively. On the contrary it can bring a lot of frustration because we make an effort and see no results. Another frequent thought during these days is “If I really believe in my wishes for next year they will become true”.
There is an important element missing here and it is the element of action. It is important to understand that positive things will not come to us and our wishes will not become true unless we do something for it to happen. Nobody who has succeeded has done so by just thinking and waiting. A resolution or a good intention should be accompanied by action, movement, energy flowing or some type of “physical” effort. Things keep repeating because we are either doing nothing or acting in the same old way. To get a change, we must plan and act differently. A more complete version of the previous thoughts would be:
“If I think and act positively, positive things will come” and “If I really believe in my wishes for next year and if I act to reach them, they may become true”.
And then how?
If you are serious about creating changes in your life during the year to come, here there are some tips for you:
1. Make a list of things you would like to change
Start with a short list so you do not get tired just thinking about all the things you will have to start working on during the next year. Be reasonable, you do not need to go wild with your resolutions to make them valid and/or believable. Keep it simple!
Identify in each of them what was not working and why
Reflect about what has been your role in this situation and why you have done so. Remember the only real change we can do is inside ourselves, we cannot change others and outside events but we can change how we respond to them.
3. Plan the new strategies
Consider possibilities different to the ones you are used to execute. Try to assess the risks and advantages in each of them so you can go for the option that will help you advance in the direction you want to go.
4. Establish dates
It is important to set checking points – dates to evaluate the progress and efficiency of your strategies and see if what you are doing is working. Here, you also can have the possibility to adjust your strategies based on the experience acquired during the process.
5. Plan strategies to keep motivated
Changes require efforts, therefore in order to guarantee a successful endeavour, it is necessary to be reasonable when setting up your goals. It is also essential to make the process as enjoyable as possible. If the effort is too big and painful it is condemned to fail.
6. Be positive!
Yes, I never said it is not good. Once your actions are in sync with your thinking everything will start falling into place. By nature we have a negativity bias, which was necessary for survival. But nowadays we can permit ourselves the luxury of being more neutral, acknowledging the wisdom that negativity and failures provide us to develop healthier behaviours. Without failures there is no improvement.
During the new year, commit yourself to think, speak, act and evaluate in a healthier way which can be either neutral or positive. It is very likely that while doing this exercise you will develop the feeling that good things were always there and constantly coming to you, but you just could not see them.
It seems a bit of hard work, but worth doing it if you really want to see healthy reforms in your life. Take paper and pen and start planning.
Here you have a short video with an example of how to prepare your resolutions, I hope it encourages you to start with it.
Happy New Year!