On New Year’s Resolutions

I have long since given up making New Year’s resolutions. They just don’t seem to take. By the middle of January I normally have to think quite carefully about what exactly it was that I had committed myself to this year. I don’t think that this is because I am a person who cannot commit to things. On occasion I have managed to introduce and sustain a regular prayer practice and a regular exercise practice. But those things were introduced when I felt it was time to make a change. Those things happened when life presented the right combination of desire, motivation and imperative. Never simply at the turn of a new year, when I felt I ought to make some resolution.

For those who are more inclined to make New Year’s resolutions, Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) has some useful suggestions:

  1. Frame your resolution in concrete actions.
  2. Keep a chart.
  3. Use the Happiness Project Toolbox.
  4. Tell people what you’re doing.
  5. Do it every day.
  6. Join a group.


In reading the list, I begin to see why my resolutions never quite make it out of the starting block!!

Even with the wisdom of Gretchen Rubin’s list, I think I will continue to gently leave New Year’s resolutions to one side. Instead I think my goal for 2013 will be to figure out what rules I live by. This is not the same thing as a personal manifesto. Rather it is a set of simple guidelines that frame my being in the world. I got the idea from Susan Piver. On her website, she has a page entitled ‘Rules to live by’


I like her list and it would be easy to simply adopt that. But one or two of her rules feel a little beyond me at the moment. More importantly though,  I think to adopt someone else’s list evades the real invitation. I want to pay attention to the way I am actually living in the world. What are the things that influence the choices I make? I have some idea of what some of them might be, and I think I’ll make a tentative list before the start of the new year with the idea being that I will slowly live into creating a list I would be willing to share with others. Ultimately, the point is to be honest with myself. To recognise the rules I actually live by, rather than the rules I would like to think I live by! This is precisely because I believe I am far more likely to get to the place I would like to be by being fully present to the place that I am.

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