As we cannot get the 2020 year behind us fast enough, our thoughts often go to the new year and what it may bring. Well as is often said, “If you keep doing what you are doing, you are going to keep getting what you got” or “Doing the same things and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”. So here are 10 suggestions of some things you might want to resolve for 2021. Forget about resolving to lose weight or exercise more. Those are good, but if you can implement any or all the suggestions below, you will improve your mental health and your relationships with others.
1. Resolve to listen first for understanding rather than to respond. In other words, try to listen to what the other person you are communicating with is saying or trying to say whether that be verbally, through email, text or whatever before you formulate your response. If the person is not a clear communicator, ask clarifying questions. Try to put yourself in their position to see if you can understand their position, especially if you find yourself disagreeing with that position.
2. Resolve to stop negative self-talk. Just stop it. It is not productive, and it can be harmful, especially in these days when we are more isolated and talking to fewer outsiders. If you have a friend who you knew had false information that they were running in a loop on their computer, hearing it repeatedly, and you knew it was harming them, wouldn’t you find a way to help them stop hearing that information? Then why not do the same favor for yourself?
3. Resolve to give yourself permission to fail. Failure is only failure if you do not learn from the mistakes you made. Show me a man who says he has never failed, and I will show you a liar. Allowing yourself the freedom to fail is incredibly liberating. It removes fear from your decision making and allows you to realize that if the decision you make is not successful, you will learn from it and move on. Setbacks and failure are not the same.
4. Resolve to do one thing each day that makes you uncomfortable. It can be as easy as speaking up at a meeting, or cold calling a potential sales prospect, but if you do one thing each day, after a time, you will begin to see (and more importantly believe) that just because something is uncomfortable, does not mean it is bad, or should not be done. The idea here is like exercising, the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more benefit you will derive.
5. Resolve to act like an extrovert or an introvert, whichever is most foreign to you, for one day. This is like number 4, and probably more difficult. So maybe practice a bit first. If you are an introvert, try greeting everyone you see with a smile and asking how their day is going. Share a little about yourself even if they do not ask. Perhaps lead a sing-along at lunch or on the bus (ok, I got a little carried away there). If you are an extrovert, try not being the life of the party and instead, listening to everyone else BEFORE offering your own opinion. Eat lunch alone for a change and contemplate the last good book you read.
6. Resolve to complete tasks as soon as you are able, rather than to put them on a list to accomplish at some unnamed later date. This is especially true if you are a procrastinator who puts off tasks you deem as unpleasant. Doing unpleasant tasks first actually relieves stress, makes other tasks more fun, and makes you more productive overall. There is one school of thought that says you should classify tasks as urgent, important, neither or both, if any task is neither, you should not do it. That may be good advice as well, but if you don’t put things off, you may find that you have time to do everything on your list.
7. Resolve to take a greater interest in what is important to those that are close to you. If your son is interested in video games, find out more about them and be genuine about your interest. If your daughter is interested in studying insects, find out why she is so fascinated by them. You may never have the same level of interest that they do, but this exercise will accomplish a couple of things. First, you might just learn something and perhaps even garner a new interest yourself. Second, you will become closer to those you are close to, and they to you.
Resolutions, by themselves, will not change your life, but if you stick to them long enough to make them a habit, they very will might change your outlook on life and that is one of the keys to happiness.