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New Year’s Resolutions You Probably Shouldn’t Make

New Year’s Resolutions You Probably Shouldn’t Make

The trouble with New Year’s resolutions

With the new year upon us, you may be thinking about the ways in which you would like to change your life in 2017. Every January, many of us feel as though we have been given a new opportunity to finally make progress with long-term goals.

Resolutions can be wonderful and motivating, but the sad fact is that the majority of them with go unkept. The solution? To get realistic about resolutions, and to choose goals that are both attainable and inspire a sense of enjoyment and hope rather than obligation. The following list contains five of the most common resolutions that people make every January, with reasons why you probably shouldn’t even thing about putting them on your to-do list.

The five resolutions you shouldn’t make

1. To lose weight

It is very difficult for most people to lose weight and keep it off. In simple terms, research shows that yo-yo dieting becomes the norm for most people who try and lose weight through even “sensible” diets and exercise.[1] Instead of aiming for a particular number on the scale, why not aim to make changes to your lifestyle and diet in ways that make you feel good? Take a new exercise class for the fun of it and try some healthy recipes.

2. To be happy

This is a noble goal, but it is too vague to be of much use. Why not set a small, tangible goal that will help you incorporate more fun into your life instead? For example, you could make a resolution to treat yourself to two enjoyable activities or small treats every week, or to take at least one trip away with friends in the summer.

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3. To work harder

In theory, working harder should equate to greater career satisfaction, progression and higher earnings. In practice, this doesn’t always turn out to be the case, especially if you do not make your working hours productive. Why not make a resolution to measure your productivity, and then strive to increase it by a certain percentage?

4. To give up caffeine

Coffee and other high-caffeine beverages have a bad reputation, and as a result you may be tempted to try cutting out caffeine entirely. However, caffeine is not unhealthy when taken in moderation and actually has some health benefits. For instance, research has shown that it may be protective against some forms of dementia[2]. Why not resolve to simply cut down on your intake instead if you are worried about your consumption?

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5. To get on better with other people or to be “nicer” to others

If you have to deal with difficult individuals on a regular basis, you may be tempted to try and be “nicer” or “more understanding” this year. However, committing to this resolution implies that spending time with toxic people is a good use of your precious time. Instead, why not focus on finding people who make you feel positive? Do an inventory of the people around you, and ask yourself what impact they have on your mental health. If you often feel angry, drained or upset following a few hours in someone’s company it may be time to re-assess the role they ought to be playing in your life.

In summary, there is nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself and your life. However, it pays to be smart about the resolutions you make. Whatever you want to change, make sure your resolutions are realistic. Even better, choose resolutions that allow you to have a bit of fun along the way! This way, you are more likely to make changes that last.

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Reference

[1] http://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-10-9
[2] http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad01404

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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