Are New Year’s resolutions dead?
Many people have given up on making resolutions. Resolutions often involve giving up something that is enjoyable or taking up an activity to achieve a goal. The resolution may be to give up chocolate to lose weight or it might be to start a gym membership to get fit.
A life makeover seems the intention behind New Year’s resolutions with the goal of improving or revamping personal and/or professional life.
New Year’s resolutions generally do not work as insufficient thought is given to the required changes in lifestyle or behaviour. Is it realistic to think that you will get to the gym every day when you live far away from a good facility, when you can’t afford a membership or when you are already time-stressed?
During the past few days I’ve conducted an informal survey of friends and family asking whether they will be making resolutions for 2013.
Most of these people won’t be making resolutions.
The reasons vary. Here are some of the statements I heard in response to my questions about New Year’s resolutions.
“I usually end up breaking resolutions”
“No point — January 1 is just another day”
“I haven’t thought about anything I want to change”
“Can’t be bothered”
Resolutions are ‘dead’ for postworksavvy
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions after I stopped working. I also stopped setting goals. Stopping was my declaration of emancipation.
Resolutions always felt like personal performance targets. I decided that I had enough of corporate goals, strategic planning, and performance targets during my career.
The Postworksavvy corporation (me) rebelled.
I had dedicated so much of my life to work and was afraid that I would miss what I really wanted from life. There would be no targets during retirement.
Instead, I would approach retirement as a journey and live according to the deepest desires of my heart. I would take this opportunity to live my dreams — cutting myself slack when necessary and striving to live authentically — according to my own values and priorities.
Taking Stock replaces making resolutions
I spend time at the end of the year taking stock of what has worked during the past year in terms of my life aspirations and dreams and not worrying about new resolutions.
Here’s a photo taken from the snowy deck of my cottage as I do my ‘stock taking’ on January 1, 2013. It’s a great setting for reverie.
I review journal entries from the past year and think about the themes that emerge on the pages.
I also think about the disappointments and regrets that I experienced. What opportunities did I miss? Where did I fall short?
As I take stock, I look at the ‘big’ categories of my dream list — relationships, lifestyle choices, social involvement, health, personal growth — to assess changes. I also reflect on how I have spent my precious retirement time.
Could I have changed anything by taking other actions?
Review of 2012
In my review of 2012, I smile when recalling our son’s marriage last April with a beautiful ceremony, a fun reception, and, most importantly, adding a daughter-in-law to our small family circle. Their announcement last fall that we can expect a grand child in 2013 brings anticipation of another wonderful addition to our family.
I smile as I re-read my travel entries during trips to the Southern US and to Europe. Floating through Europe on a luxury river cruise meant an unforgettable two weeks of pampered living in a dream world.
I look at entries during a hectic summer of entertaining friends and relaxing at the cottage. The renovations done during the late winter made for a more comfortable lifestyle especially when we were able to use the AC during an exceptionally hot summer! And with a new furnace we can also enjoy the winter in this beautiful setting at Lake Huron.
Changes to consider
Time management jumped off the pages as an issue I wrote about. When I missed a special lunch with a good friend I disappointed myself. Many journal entries ended with the line ‘too much to do — too little time’.
I too often over-scheduled my days resulting in missing a meeting or rushing around as I did during career days. This is inconsistent with aspirations to live more calmly during retirement. There’s room for improvement — but no resolution — as I know that having lots of interesting things to do makes for an exciting postworksavvy lifestyle.
Another theme that emerged is living with too much ‘stuff’. I often wasted time looking for a misplaced item. Repeatedly I felt overwhelmed with excess clothing, kitchen utensils, dishes, garden equipment, books and furniture. I’ve been cleaning clutter and giving away excess for a couple of years but obviously another approach is warranted.
Letting Aspirations Replace Resolutions
Do you dread the inevitable questions about what resolutions you have made? Are you frustrated when you fall short of your New Year’s resolve to change?
By deciding that New Year’s resolutions are dead you can change focus and listen to your inner wisdom. Taking time to articulate your life aspirations is a way of starting.
Follow your heart and take time for personal reflection. Practice saying no more often to people or projects that drain precious life energy. Make a gratitude list. Enjoy some self-indulgence as you learn to care for yourself and those who are important to you.
As you replace New Year’s resolutions with life aspirations for the New Year you too can decide that New Year’s Resolutions are dead. Happy New Year!