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What to Do With Your Broken New Years Resolutions

What to Do With Your Broken New Years Resolutions

By now, it’s entirely likely that your New Years Resolutions are as cold and lifeless as a puppy on Pluto.

You’re not alone. Some 88% of resolutions are destined not to make it anywhere near success, even if you start out with the best of intentions on January 1st. It’s simple to make resolutions year after year; tempting even. You want things to change, you want something better, and the start of a brand new year seems like the perfect time to start and stop all of that “stuff”.

But New Years Resolutions are systemically flawed, and it’s hardly surprising they end up broken and discarded like an old sofa when you consider that they’re normally one of these 3 things:

  • Something you think you should probably stop doing, because it might be “bad”
  • Something you think you should probably start doing, because it’s generally perceived as “good”
  • Something that’s fuelled by guilt or shame, whether it’s something you’ve done or not done

I don’t know about you, but none of those 3 things seems like a good reason to do anything to me.

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Go about a decision with any one of these drivers and you’ve failed before you’ve even started.

Making your decisions based on what popular opinion says you should do or because that’s what your peers are doing seems crazy, right? But you still do it.

Committing to something because a part of you feels like you maybe, kinda, sorta, oughta do it is really just fooling yourself that you’re taking action. But you still do it.

And let’s not dwell too long on the choices you make because it’s what’s expected of you—or perhaps even what you expect of you—which leads to a life of survival, not of living. But you still do it.

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You do these things because they carry zero risk and require minimal effort. They’re easy. And they don’t need you to take a stand in your life.

So what to do instead? What to do with those broken New Years Resolutions? How about trying this.

Start playing.

Playing a great game of tennis, Pictionary, chess or anything else requires you to:

  • Show up
  • Play at your best, even though you don’t know how the game will play out
  • Practice, so you can get better

So pick a game that matters to you.

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Play it because it matters you. Engage with it because it fascinates you, because it might be bloody good fun or because something extraordinary might happen.

Play a game that matters because not playing isn’t an option, because you want the texture of experience that only comes from engaging or because you want to learn to be a great participant.

Play, because you just might win.

Don’t mourn your New Years Resolutions or think less of yourself for not nailing them. Toss them in the trash like a week old, half eaten burrito that you didn’t really want anyway.

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Then make a new choice.

A new choice based on who you are and what really matters to you.

A choice that not only brings the game to life, buts get you in the arena.

Ready to play?

 

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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