Stephanie Dowrick on resolutions for 2015

New Year resolution-making is a ritual as precious and promising as any other. Especially if the resolutions enhance your life – and sustain you. My advice?
1. Take others’ advice with a pinch of salt – no matter how much you admire or value that person. Use your own invaluable self-knowledge and experience to “advise” yourself. Remind yourself what your strengths are. Choose how you will develop them. Make your resolutions with interest and excitement.
2. Make no more than three resolutions in total: one that affects how you see yourself; one that immediately affects (or relieves) the people around you; one that’s about delighting in life more. If you made only one genuinely positive change and kept to it, your life would already be significantly enhanced. Set up reminders, ways of checking in and keeping yourself going. A resolution is just the beginning: it’s the seed that you then water with your attention, experimentation, reflections and revisions.

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3. Write down your thoughts. Don’t just keep them swirling in your mind. Strike out any that are intended to impress. Also strike out any that are too ambitious or too global to be sustained beyond 2 Jan.

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4. List the benefits any change will bring. The biggest predictor of success is that you will ENJOY the benefits, and keep your positive change going.
5. Check how practical your resolutions are, and how grounded in your present reality.  They need to fit your life style and stage.
6. Check how you are describing your resolution to yourself. Does this echo the way you usually encourage yourself? Is there heart in it? Vigour? Creativity? Gratitude that you have real choices to make?
7. Let yourself know how your top resolution will also benefit other people. If it does, you will get positive feedback. Behaving well (and better), others will find you more rewarding to be around. It really is that simple.
8. “Borrow” insights from one part of your life to use in another. Some people are more thoughtful and patient at work. Why not at home? Or vice versa.

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9. If this was your very last change to create a New Year resolution, would that resolution be in any way different? Are you postponing a change that could be made? Now?
10. Resolutions or not, add the multi-vocabularies of gratitude and appreciation to your emotional repertoire. Through your words, through the giving of time, care, love; through your personal warmth; through your patience and generosity of spirit and attention; through silencing criticism and petty outbursts; through taking quiet moments every day to come back to yourself, to your eternal self, you can add to the world’s happiness.

In doing that, you inevitably enhance your own happiness and that of your loved ones. Always.
(May your 2015 be a year of depth and delight.)

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