Sitting at the doorstep of 2016 makes my head spin. Where did 2015 go? The older I get, the faster the time goes – like “beam me up Scotty” fast. Somehow a year seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. Thinking about the New Year brings up the resolution topic. I was curious to see what the “hot topics” were for 2016, so I did a little digging and found a survey by GoBankingRates.com that broke down the most popular resolutions by geographical area and the most common goals were:
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Live a healthier lifestyle
- Lose weight
- Save more and spend less
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Pay down debt.
I like “Enjoy life to the fullest”, that’s a great goal, but it’s pretty big and how do you quantify that?
So, I got to thinking, are there some resolutions that we could all make that would not only make us happier, but make others’ happier too? Let’s be honest, if you are a student, or moving into your first apartment, or trying to save for your first house, making a resolution that involves a cost is hard to keep, so I was also challenging myself to look at things that didn’t have to have a cost, or very minimal. My philosophy in life is to give more than you take. That doesn’t necessarily mean physical; it can be emotional, time, favors, whatever. In the spirit of that, I’ve come up with a list of Resolutions we can all make as well as HOW to make sure it happens. It’s easy to make a resolution; the hard part is making it happen.
My advice in starting a resolution is to pick something that is meaningful, something you WANT to do and then you MUST have a plan. I am a firm believer that without a plan, things just don’t happen, life gets in the way and then before you know it, you are sitting on the doorstep of 2017. The best way to make a plan is to set aside a block of time up front and actually draft out how you will make it happen for the full year. Identify your barriers and decide up front how you will handle your barriers. The other great way to achieve a goal is to ask for someone’s help. Recruit someone who will be by your side and give you nudges here and there to make sure you are on track. The caveat though is that when “that someone” nudges you, you don’t get to be frustrated, because you asked for it!
Hopefully you will join me in a few of these ideas to make yourself and those around you a little bit better this year.
- SAY “THANK YOU”. I don’t mean verbally, write it down. You would be surprised how a small note of thanks goes a long way. Look for small things: patience, a smile, a compliment, time spent, help, a gift, etc. Saying thank you feels good and for the person you are thanking, it makes a huge difference!
- IMPLEMENT IT:
- Keep note cards with you at all times – in your car, backpack, purse, room, office, etc. Either actual cards and envelopes, or a notepad, or something.
- Start LOOKING for things to be thankful for and write them down and deliver them.
- Give thank you notes to strangers if you need to, don’t limit yourself on who you can thank.
- If you don’t have a card, send a text, an email or better yet, give that person a call. Do it fast.
- Set yourself a goal, maybe once a week and then set a calendar in your phone to remind you. If you didn’t do it that week, reflect and do it at that time you have blocked out.
- IMPLEMENT IT:
2. RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: I think we focus on doing acts of kindness during the holidays, but we should do it all the time. So, make a calendar and do ONE random act of kindness a month.
- IMPLEMENT IT:
- Set yourself some time before you start and think about people, groups, organizations that you are passionate about.
- Make a list of things that these people would appreciate
- Calendar your activities. I know it takes the “randomness” out of it, but if you calendar your events, you are more likely to do them.
- It’s ok to keep yourself open to new ideas and be spontaneous as you go. The thing to remember is that you have to THINK about it often. Be conscious of your goal.
- Set yourself a reminder monthly and if you have not done anything, use that time to make it happen.
- These don’t have to cost anything. You could send someone a thank you note, anonymously, shovel someone’s driveway, if you are artistic – draw, print a photo, make something.
- DO NOT EXPECT ANYTHING IN RETURN. That means recognition as well. It’s ok to be anonymous and never know the outcome.
3. GIVE COMPLIMENTS: Ok, I don’t mean creepy compliments. Give sincere compliments. EVERYONE has insecurity whether you can see it or not. When you give a compliment, it feels good. Here is a great example: I had just been dealing with a fairly serious injury with my son. I hadn’t had much sleep, was stressed about the medical expenses, and had to run to the store to get an urgent prescription. I was in the check-out line and the cashier kept looking at me, kind of back and forth and then finally smiled and said, “Your hair, it is beautiful, the curls are just so perfect, it is lovely”. I was so shocked because my hair hadn’t been washed in a week, it was in a messy bun on the top of my head and I felt a little disheveled. But she saw something. Maybe she knew I needed a kind word, maybe not, but I tell you what, that one small compliment made me smile and turned my whole day around. It was so nice that someone saw something in me other than my worried wrinkles, dark circles and frantic fret that I knew I was projecting.
- IMPLEMENT IT: This one is a little harder to plan out, but you can. You have to be spontaneous and be conscious of it, but you can do it.
- Set aside some time at the beginning of the year to think of qualities in people that you appreciate, like patience, artistry, style, particular talents and make a list. Keep that list with you and read it daily. Sometimes electronic lists are better because they are always with you. When you see one of those things that you appreciate, say it.
- Guys tend to have a harder time with this and not make it creepy, but here is an example. If you are a guy and appreciate someone’s ability to be patient, look for it. It happens all around us every day. If you see a mom at a store not screaming at her kids and doing all she can to be patient, tell her, “I wanted to let you know that I admire your patience with your children in the store”, one of your co-workers diffused a tense situation tell them, “I really admire how you can handle those types of situations and remain calm”.
- Guys should pick personality qualities with women, rather than physical attributes, especially if you don’t know them well.
- Make it a point to tell those very close to you the things you like about them. For example: Tell your wife she has pretty eyes, your husband you are grateful for his ability to fix the toilet, your daughter that you are impressed at her ability to juggle school, social life and her sport and still remain helpful at home, etc.
- You will find especially with kids that the more you compliment them on their good qualities the more you will see those good qualities. BONUS: This helps both of you!
4. SHARE YOUR TALENT/VOLUNTEER: EVERYONE has a talent, some are artistic, some are academic, some are emotional and some are physical. The key here is to identify your talent and share it, for free. You don’t have to overdo it, but use your talent for good.
- IMPLEMENT IT: In volunteering, it is important to determine what kind of time you have to give, what you’re passionate about and identifying a group or individual to share it with. Here are some ideas on implementation
- Set aside a few hours to make your plan for the year.
- Identify your talent. If you don’t know, ask someone close, they won’t be afraid to tell you. Sometimes it is hard to identify your own talents.
- Research individuals or groups that could use your talent. It doesn’t have to be established groups. If you are amazing at math, be a tutor. If your talent is soothing people, talk to the elderly. If you are artistic, teach it or donate it. Be creative, but you need to identify WHERE and HOW.
- CALENDAR IT. If you don’t calendar it, it won’t happen.
5. LEARN SOMETHING NEW: When you grow, others around you grow – your family, friends, your job, etc. The key here is to pick something that will help you in everyday life, or something that will bring you joy – THAT YOU CAN AFFORD. Don’t choose something like photography if you can’t afford the equipment, or dance if you can’t afford lessons or a master’s degree if you can’t afford it.
- IMPLEMENT IT: Like all other goals, you have to set time, analyze what will mean the most, what is reasonable and calendar it to make it happen.
- Make a list of things that you have always wanted to learn or that will help you or others around you. For example, if your family has a weight loss challenge, maybe your goal is to learn how to cook lean. You can take classes, listen to online books, watch you-tube, etc.
- Determine the cost and make sure it fits with your budget THE WHOLE YEAR. This is how a lot of goals die, is in the budget.
- Calendar it. Decide what you are doing, how you are doing it and make a calendar event for when you will make time for it. If you don’t have time blocked, it won’t happen.
- Recruit others around you to keep you on track and to push you to succeed. Remember, when they push you, you can’t get mad because you asked for it!
Good luck and may 2016 bring you and those around you growth, success and happiness. Please share your success stories with me here or on Twitter at #ABetter2016.