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New Year's Resolutions... yes or no?

As we reach the end of another year, it can be a great time to reflect on 2022 and set new intentions for 2023.

Do you set yourself any New Year's Resolutions and more importantly, do you manage to stick to them???

I personally decided against the idea of New Year's Resolution's several years ago, after many years of setting myself a specific goal and inevitably giving up as soon as I fell off the wagon, feeling like a total failure!

I had the notion that New Year was THE opportunity for change and if I failed in this, well I'd just have to wait for the beginning of the next year to start over. Not a very effective mindset for achieving anything!

This year I am trying a different approach...

I have been reading a book called 'The Happiness Trap' by Russ Harris. Russ Harris developed a relatively new therapy; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which helps people to stop struggling for perfect happiness and lead a more fulfilled life, partly by shifting their focus from GOALS to VALUES. In his book, he describes the difference between goals and values as:

"A value is a quality we desire to bring to our behaviour; a quality that guides the words we use and how we say them, and the actions we take and how we do them. In contrast, a goal describes what we want to have, get, achieve or complete."

Goals are rigid; we either achieve them, or we don't. values are fluid; they are a way of living, of being, they are our guidelines for the person we want to be in this world. We can live by our values, whether or not we achieve our goals.

This inspired me to take a new approach to my intentions for the New Year, by defining the values that I want to live by, rather than the goals that I want to achieve.

Everybody will have different values, they are an entirely individual thing, 'our heart's deepest desires for how we want to treat ourselves, others and the world around us.' (Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap).

The list of values is endless and it took me a while to narrow it down! But for me, my core value are to be:

  • Caring

  • Compassionate

  • Assertive

  • Loving

  • Present

  • Open

By identifying my core values, it gives me a guiding light for my year ahead, at any time throughout the year, I can stop and evaluate what I'm doing; is it taking me towards or away from my values? Am I living in alignment with what is truly important to me?

So instead of setting myself a rigid New Year's Resolution of 'I'm going to go to the gym 4 times a week, every week for the whole year.' (Never going to happen!) I can instead focus on caring for myself and what that means to me... eating well, movement, rest, time for myself. There is more space in this, a more holistic approach to caring for myself fully, rather than just focusing on one specific goal with no clear idea of why it is important to me to achieve it.

It is great to have goals and ambitions, but if you are setting yourself a New Year's Resolution, consider why it is important to you, what core value is this goal related to and is it really one of your core values, or just something that you feel you should do because society says so.

And remember that New Year is not the only new beginning, every new day, every new hour, every new minute brings a new opportunity. So if you lose your way, there is always a new chance to start over.

Happy New year to you all!

If you are interested in Russ Harris's work, I highly recommend his book, The Happiness Trap, there is also further information on his website:

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