Pick a one-word theme for a New Year’s resolution you really can keep

A list of resolutions can be daunting and unachievable. Why not pick a more manageable 'theme of the year' instead? (pic: istockphoto.com/catherine_jones)

A list of resolutions can be daunting and unachievable. Why not pick a more manageable ‘theme of the year’ instead? (pic: istockphoto.com/catherine_jones)

I believe less is more when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing more demoralising than making a 10-strong list on 1st January promising yourself ways you’re going to be a better person, only to find that seven have already slipped out of possibility a week later. The fizz of optimism can disappear faster from your list than a warm glass of last night’s Champagne, and you may give yourself a hard time for ‘failing’.

In fact, fear of failing is one of the two main reasons why people don’t make resolutions. (The other reason is that they don’t believe in them, according to an Australian study). And people fail to stick at them because other things get in the way, they lose focus, or the resolution wasn’t that important in the first place.

A more achievable way of making positive change in your life is to have a goal that is realistic. One way of doing that, I’ve found, is to pick a theme for the year.¬† (more…)

Happiness 2014: how about giving up trying to please other people…?

For 2014, why not commit to being true to who you are - irregardless of the other person's reaction...? (pic: istockphoto.com.castillodominici)

For 2014, why not commit to being true to who you are – irregardless of whether other people accept or approve? (pic: istockphoto.com/castillodominici)

Apparently doing less is more in 2014. If you want to be happy, that is. Or it is according to a new book by Todd Patkin, who is quoted in an article as saying we should make 2014 the Year of the Quitter. His argument has a lot of truths in it. He advocates:

  1. Letting go of relationships that drain you.
  2. Stop being nice to people just so you think they’ll like you.
  3. Forget thinking that being a workaholic is cool.
  4. Stop putting such high expectations on yourself.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they’ve achieved.
  6. Don’t live your life just to please others.
  7. Stop trying to please your partner.
  8. Stop putting so much pressure on your children.

Seems that his advice is to stop having such high, perfectionist standards. People who try to please others also have high expectations of reward, gratification and gratitude. Unfortunately, the pressure can be on the recipient of such people-pleasing behaviours. If he/she is not perceived to be sufficiently grateful and adoring then the response from the giver can be one of huffiness and passive-aggression. I think the advice on points 2 and 4 are the most salient.

2, because if you are just putting a nice face on to people, then what happens to your real face? Why tell a lie or contort your real self in a self-imposed pressure to be liked? Trying to please other people, if it compromises your true nature or what is in your heart, surely has to be a lie? So why perpetrate it, just because you want to be liked by somebody or are scared of hurting their feelings?

And 4, because it is often the high standards we set for ourselves that lead to our inner sense of failure. We give ourselves to-do lists that, frankly, can be impossible to fulfil. Are they a stick to beat ourselves with? Or a way to stretch ourselves and reach greater depths and breadths within ourselves?

Sometimes the line between the two can be rather slim. Check which side you’re standing on, to protect and build your own self-esteem.

Ultimately, if we do what we can with what we’ve got at the time, who’s to say we’re not good enough…?