Now, I know that New Year's resolutions generally have a bad rap. But two years ago, I made a resolution that completely changed my life.
So, I'd like to share with you my secret....
Ok, so not exactly a secret.
It's a pretty common strategy, one we used in the Devotion program and one that is really nicely explained in this 6-min video.
The thing that may surprise you is that the strategy is NOT to make SMART goals.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed (or some variant of that, depending on the source). The thing is, SMART goals don’t actually align well with many behaviour theories (which explains why all my past New Year’s resolutions using the SMART goal tool did not work out).
Instead, the New Year’s resolution that changed my life was specifically vague, flexible, actionable, and personally meaningful to me.
So, after a pretty rough 2020 (as I’m sure many people can relate), my resolution for 2021 was:
It was so much different than my previous resolutions, which were generally focused on what I believed I “should” be doing, or what would “fix” me.
My resolution to live a more joyful life was much different than previous resolutions, such as exercising 5+ days per week, accomplishing my nemesis pole goals, or being more productive at work.
Giving myself a long-term resolution that was so rigid was not right for me.
This year, I finally got it right. I chose JOY.
Would working out 5 or more days a week for 52 weeks make me happier? Would achieving a nemesis pole goal make my life any better? Would doing even more at work make me happier?
For some people, maybe. But not for me…although, if I really consider WHY I’d wanted to make those resolutions in the past, I believe I THOUGHT achieving these goals of obsessively consistent workouts, achieving nemesis pole goals, and being extra productive would give me the external validation I “needed” to be happier in life. But I’ve learned over the past couple of years how much sweeter internal validation and motivation is.
Did focusing on more joy make my life better?
Oh, hell YES!!
My 2021 New Year’s resolution seriously changed my life! It’s still positively impacting my life 2 years later.
All I had to do was focus on doing more things that brought me joy.
More dancing, more play, more music, more smiles.
More connection, more celebration, more adventures, more love.
I spent my year collecting little nuggets of joy.
Which added up to making 2021 and 2022 my happiest, most joyful years in a LONG time!
And so, if you are considering making a resolution or any long term goal, I invite you to consider what will really change your life.
What do you really want to feel?
And how can you give yourself more of that on a daily basis?
You see, my secret was that I didn’t decide to bring more joy into my life and force myself into a strict, unnatural, unsustainable routine of things to make me happy.
It was not a prescription to spend a minimum of 5 mins each feeling joy and gradually add a minute each day until the majority of my life is joyful.
It was not something I could easily fail by not achieving an arbitrary vanity metric.
A joyful life was more of a navigational tool to help with decision making.
I have 5 spare minutes, will scrolling social media or putting on a fun song or playing with Wicket bring me the most joy?
What is the most joyful way I can approach this project?
How can I make cleaning the bathroom more enjoyable?
I simply decided to live my life and find as many tiny moments in my day to add joy.
And I nurtured those tiny moments until they grew into my natural way of being.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There was more that went into it too. I also had to do the work to believe that I was worthy of joy and that I did not need to “earn” it. Joyful moments switched from being a reward to being a norm of my daily life.
Also to note, choosing joy doesn’t mean I didn’t feel sadness, frustration, anger, grief, or anything else. Life happens and shitty things didn’t stop happening because I chose joy. The way I dealt with them did change. I was able to feel the range of emotions and come back to my baseline of joy.
Thanks to my 2-years ago resolution, I'm still living a pretty amazing, joyful life.
If you could chose a resolution, intention, or perhaps theme for your year that would help you navigate your life in a way that would make a real difference, what would that be?
Improving your self-talk/self-response?
Being more present?
Creating more space?
There is no right resolution for everyone, but there might be something that is right for you this year. Something that if you chose it as your navigational tool for 2023 would create profound change in your life.
What will you choose this year?