Once again, it is time to resolve to do more of something, less of something, or break away from something. More than likely, your intent is to change and a new year gives you an opportunity to have a fresh start. As with every New Year, you know this will finally be the one to change old habits and create a better life. Of course, the problem is every January 1st seems to begin exactly like the year before with hope, excitement, apprehension, and forward thinking. Yet, every December 31st somehow ends with reflections of what should have been accomplished. Even though you had such good intentions, so many obstacles, limitations, and demands on your time prevented you from taking action to achieve the goal you set just twelve months ago. Nonetheless, there is always next year. Then, a cycle of repetition begins or you just resolve not to make any more resolutions because they never get off the ground anyway. Although this may be true, there are three important questions to ask yourself at the beginning of the year that can change the way you think about New Year resolutions. Your honest, eye opening responses to the three questions may very well revise your approach to making a New Year resolution and lead you to a much different outcome on the last day of the year. Take a few moments and ask yourself the following questions:
- What did I learn about myself in the past year?
Begin to answer this question by reflecting on everything that went well last year. You had successes, some great and some incidental. Regardless, with every success, you did something. Think about your behavior, your thoughts, your surroundings and what you believe created an opportunity for success. Write down everything you can recall. Relive the moments. Next, reflect on situations that did not turn out well, not necessarily failures, but not producing the expected results. What was different about your behavior, thoughts, and surroundings? Again, write it down. Now compare and contrast “you” with success and “you” without success? What patterns emerged? What interesting behavior surfaced? With this new knowledge, move to the next question to see if there is a connection between your actions and your attention.
- Where was my attention in the past year?
In the past year, a lot has happened. Even if you had a goal and great strategy, so many circumstances pulled at your attention. Reflect on where your attention was focused and write down every accomplishment, situation, and frustration throughout the year. To create an interesting visual of your focused attention through the year, use different colored highlighters each time your attention changed and draw lines through your response. Was much of your attention on achieving your goals, doing busy work, or focused on the needs of others? Any similarities between your behavior and your attention? Now that you have a good understanding of what worked well in the past year, take what you learned about yourself and answer the last question.
- What do I need to change in the New Year?
I suspect that the goal for the next year would be to have more success and greater attention on the actions that produce not only good, but outstanding outcomes. With this in mind, review your behavior and where you focused much of your attention. Did any “ah-ha” moments appear during your review to indicate the changes necessary for goal achievement? Next identify what could be enhanced, eliminated, strengthened, or redirected so that you can develop a winning New Year resolution.
If you were hesitant to state a New Year resolution because of life’s distractions, past failures, or too many things to accomplish in one year, your response to the three questions can alter how you think about a resolution. Becoming more self-aware of your actions, your work, and the outcomes of the past year, your resolution for the New Year can be much more than stating a possibility or a wish for the future. You now have insight into how your behavior truly leads your success. So put on the party hat, (a real glittery one), get out the noise makers, and pop the cork to celebrate the New Year, a new you, and a new approach to achieving your goal for this year and many more to come.