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The start of the new year always fills me with hope and excitement. It’s like the beautiful ribboned gifts that sit under the tree. The new year is a neatly wrapped package full of hope and excitement for what the future may hold. Every year around November, I start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year. I make a list of resolutions, and I usually do a fairly good job of sticking with them…at first. And then, long about mid-March, life gets the better of me and the list gets forgotten. According to studies, that actually makes me more successful than most people. Statistics show that around 80% of people fail to stick with their resolutions for longer than six weeks.
Why is it so hard to stick with a resolution?
Part of the trouble with so many new year’s resolutions is that they are built to deny you something. “I will cut back on my caffeine intake.” “I will stop eating so much junk food.” We dwell on what we have not accomplished and our shortcomings instead of focusing on the positive. In addition to that, we often set a long list of changes that we want to make to brighten our new year. Unfortunately, too many unrealistic goals set us up for failure.
A Resolution Resolve
This year, I refuse to be defeated by my own list. These five resolutions focus on positives, and your commitment to stick with them for the entire year may not just make you a better person, but they may just make the world a little bit kinder as well.
Resolutions worth keeping
1.Resolve to take care of yourself
If you’ve ever been in a gym during the month of January, you know that exercise tops many new year’s resolution lists. Physical activity can reduce your risk of developing certain diseases, make your clothes fit better, flood you with positive endorphins, and improve your overall quality of life. No doubt, it is important. But this resolution isn’t just about getting to the gym.
“Taking care of yourself” should include not just your physical well-being, but your mental health as well. Make going to the gym a priority, but also listen to your body as a whole. Sometimes, that extra hour of sleep is more important than getting up at 4am to workout before work. Don’t be afraid to say no if you can’t imagine spreading yourself any thinner. Focus on eating healthfully, but don’t deny yourself the occasional indulgence. Focus on treating yourself kindly rather than punishing yourself, and you’re more than likely going to stick with your goal.
2. Resolve to listen
In today’s world, we are inundated with noise all day long. My years of teaching have caused me to perfect the skill of tuning out the unnecessary noise. I know I am not the only mom guilty of smiling and nodding while my eleven-year-old launches into another story about his adventures playing Fortnite. But while I may not be interested in what happened during his latest Battle Royale, it is important to him. Because I love him, it should be more important to me.
This year, I will resolve to truly listen when my kids tell a story. Listen to the sounds of nature, the music on the radio, and listen to the demands of your own heart. Listening is about more than just hearing, but about being engaged in the process. By concentrating on being an active listener, you will focus on being in the moment and you will appreciate all of the beauty that surrounds you…even if that beauty is your son, begging for V-Bucks so he can get this season’s Battle Pass.
3. Resolve to read more books
I know that not everyone is an avid reader like I am, but I passionately believe that everyone can benefit from cracking open a book more often. Reading, or even listening to an audio book, can reduce stress, improve your language skills, boost your creativity, enhance your empathy, and increase your knowledge of the world. It doesn’t even matter what you read. Whether your genre of choice is fiction, self-help, fantasy, romance, non-fiction, or graphic novels, the benefits are immeasurable.
4. Resolve to spread kindness
Sometimes we forget how much small kindnesses can impact others. Recently a student left me a note on his essay, thanking me for helping to make writing easier for him and letting me know that my positive energy not only made class enjoyable, but helped make bad days a little brighter. It may have taken him five extra minutes to type up the message, but it will last in my heart forever. To know that my hard work and dedication to my students and their success is recognized means the world to me. The fact that he took the time to tell me so was inspiring.
How many times are we moved by someone, or inspired by the actions of others, but do we take the time to tell them? How much better this world would be if we all took the time to thank those that needed thanking! This year, resolve to tell people how much you appreciate them and watch the kindness spread.
5. Resolve to forgive
Anger and resentment are like wounds that fester in our hearts. Not everyone will be considerate of your feelings, and when you allow those people to wound you, you give them the power. The truth is, the only thing that we can control is our own reaction to a situation. Letting go of the hurt and forgiving can give you peace and be incredibly freeing.
But it’s not just others that wound us. If you are anything like me, you also need to be reminded to forgive yourself. You will make mistakes throughout the year. I’m sure you may not stick to every resolution. You will fall down, but you will also get back up. Remember that every mistake offers an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to learn. Let go, and forgive. It will undoubtedly lead you to a happier, more fulfilled new year.