It’s the second day of the year and many people will now be checking their list of New Year’s resolutions to ensure they don’t stumble at the first hurdle. Personally, and I know I breaking with convention here, I don’t think those resolutions should be set yet.

The run-up to the end of each year is often very hectic at work, followed by buying last-minute gifts (you’ll often find me zipping around Cambridge on Christmas Eve!), Christmas celebrations, connecting with family, friends and loved ones (on zoom these days) etc. that we don’t spend much time properly reflecting on what happened last year and what we liked and what we didn’t or what we want more of and what we want less of. I personally think that a lack of quality reflection, rather than a lack of discipline, is the main reason why people fail to hold to their resolutions.

It’s a lack of reflection which often leads to poor choices.

So, if you haven’t made your resolutions yet… good! Before you decide what you want from 2021, take some time to yourself and think through what you really want.

I often hear coaches quoting studies which show that 80-90% of people have quit on their resolutions within the first two weeks of the year.

Wouldn’t it be a better idea to spend the first couple of weeks of the year reflecting? Surely what we want to do is make wise and discerning choices rather than decisions made in a hurry which we then fail to stick to.

My therapist believes that making big life decisions in the middle of the winter, when we often struggle to maintain a positive state of being, is not particularly smart. She thinks resolutions would be better made in Springtime – she’s a wise soul.

I’m not suggesting that you need to wait until Spring to make your resolutions but I think having time to properly consider what your next step will be, and being in a positive state of mind when you do choose, is crucial to whether those decisions will serve you well.

If you already have established, daily reflective and/or contemplative practices in place, such as journaling and meditating, you may be better set up for making choices with a good sense of awareness. If you don’t, maybe this could be part of your new regime?

Regardless of how you choose to do it, performing some kind of audit on your life before making big decisions has got to be a must. 

If you do want a framework for this audit, here is a simple 10 point system that I  use, it may prompt some good ideas and creativity. 

It’s a lack of reflection which often leads to poor choices.

Here are 10 areas you can reflect on. Ask yourself, “How did I do in 2020 with this area?” Give yourself a score from 1 to 10 for how well you did in that area. Don’t spend very long coming up with the score, put down what first comes to mind.

10 Life Areas:

Health: 

  1. Body – fitness, weight, function
  2. Mind – cognitive ability, learning, developing, attention regulation
  3. Spirit – vitality, joy, passion, engagement in life

Connections: 

  1. Partner – love relationship intimacy, closeness, sex, romance, devotion
  2. Family – closeness, to children, parents, siblings, wider family
  3. Friends – people you love to be with and love to be with you, your back-up
  4. Community – involvement where you live, contribution in supporting those around you.

Creation:

  1. Career – satisfaction and enjoyment in work & business, progress and development
  2. Recreation – activities, sports, hobbies, arts, holidays, interests
  3. Finances – material wealth, savings, investments,

Once you have scored all ten areas, write a line or two about why you gave yourself that score. On reflection, would you change that score? If so, why? Make a note of your reason.

Now, think about how you could improve this in 2021. Don’t shoot for a 10 if last year you scored a 3. Just figure out how you can progress to a 4 or 5 – I know you want to be at 10 in every area but it just ain’t realistic. Life just doesn’t work that way (material for another blog post:).

Once you have completed this exercise, leave it alone for at least 24 hours. Give your mind some time to work on this in the background? You’ll be amazed at how ideas and creative thoughts will bubble up from nowhere to assist you in coming up with what to do next.

For now, however, give yourself permission just to be happy that you have invested this time and effort in making 2021 a better year, a year of progress. There is no rush, getting this right is important.

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Wellbeing… it means different things to different people but one thing is for certain, it means a lot to everyone. We all want to be well, healthy, full of vitality and joy. But life is sometimes tough and there is no such thing as a pain-free life.

Learning to live well, despite the tough times, is key to being happy and fulfilled. This is what this blog is all about.

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