As reflections upon 2015 give birth to resolutions and intentions for 2016, many of us will be drawing up our lists of New Year’s resolutions. From giving up smoking to not eating chocolate for a year, all kinds of resolutions are made globally.
But before we go into what I think should be on your list, it is important that we recognise how to make the right kind of resolution.
68% of Brits make a resolution to get fit. Now there is one vital reason why this resolution will almost never be sustainable: because almost always, vague resolutions like ‘get fit’ never materialise.
The key to making intentions is to be specific: have achievable short-term stages against a realistic longer-term target, and then do it. Plan your work, then work your plan. So instead of making a vague intention of getting fit, a much better one would be, for example, ‘join the gym, work out at least twice a week, lose 15kg by year end’.
Okay, now we know how to craft a successful resolution, hHere are the 5 areas I think you should be targetting this coming year.
1. A physical goal
It is a cliché to say “a healthy body leads to a healthy mind”, but it is a cliché for a reason. You guys reading this will all be of varied physical fitness, so it does not make sense for me to recommend a weight-loss target when somebody might desperately be trying to put on weight. Equally, there is no point me advocating taking up running if you are just recovering from knee surgery! You know yourself best – so ask yourself genuinely what you want to achieve this coming year from a physical point of view, and make a solid resolution using the model above.
For me, it’s all about weight loss and I’m locking myself into a specific weight target and 2 times at the gym/squash a week. What about you?
2. A mental goal
I don’t mean a crazy goal, I mean set your brain a goal. For those of you who are fully-fledged adults working full-time and well-entrenched in the rat race, it is all too easy to come home tired on an evening and do nothing for the 4-5 hours before you go to bed. The same can be said of students, albeit in a different way. The point is, to some extent, we all waste time doing unproductive things when we can spend that time much better investing in ourselves.
There are literally thousands of things that anybody can pick up, especially now with the plethora of online resources. Think back to your school days when our brains were stretched every day and absorbing lots of new information. No wonder we had such active imaginations.
Why not set yourself a goal of spending an hour a day memorising qur’an, learning a new language, taking up self-study of a course you always wanted to do (Economics A-level, anyone?), or even taking up something with your long-term professional goals in mind (e.g. learning the basics of Chinese if you want to start an import/export business one day).
Just do something to stimulate yourself intellectually. I promise that you will be waking up and coming home with a new-found vigour.
3. A family goal
Amidst our busy lives, as clichéd as it is, we tend to neglect our loved ones. We take for granted the fact that they will be there offering their unconditional love whilst we crack on with our goals. What we often forget is that we would probably sacrifice the whole lot for them if push came to shove.
But push hasn’t come to shove and yet you may be compromising on giving them what they deserve right now.
Create a monthly diary entry (for yourself only) to do something to surprise your partner, for instance. This might seem a bit crazy (planned spontaneity?!), but think back on 2015 and how many times you did something to really show your partner how much they mean to you. If you can genuinely respond to that and say you are happy, then think of a different family goal (parents, children, etc). Otherwise, my suggestion is not all that crazy!
4. An entrepreneurial goal
I am a firm believer that everybody, even if you think you are not business-minded, should have an entrepreneurial interest (more on this in a later blog).
Get involved in some kind of project where the key focus is making money. You will find yourself developing skills you never thought you had and gaining a respect for the self-made millionaires of society not because of the money per se, but because of their journey getting there.
In our advanced lives, it is very rare that we have to really hustle and work hard to make something work, but entrepreneurship does that. This can be achieved in so many ways – an eBay business, a tutoring service, or simply selling your famous brownies around the neighbourhood. Reflect on yourself and think about the unique skills you have and how you can market and sell that. Believe me, people are willing to pay.
Helen Daniels’ story is a great example of how a simple idea can turn into a fully-fledged business. I have no doubt that you have a great idea or unique service that you can bring to the table – why not make a go of it and have fun on the journey? There’s always an opportunity.
5. A charitable goal
With use of food banks now at record levels in the UK, it is important that we consciously participate in the drive for help. Whether it is through financial, volunteering, or goods-based donations, there is more need than ever for your input.
In my local area, it has been great to see a large number of local food establishments offering the homeless free food. Equally, lots of unsung heroes spend a lot of time organising such links, and many also offer consistent monthly donations to help with the running costs of charities.
Clearly, homelessness is not the only charitable concern; I merely use this point as an example which is very relevant. Lots of other very worthwhile causes exist.
Why not find one and commit to a monthly financial donation? Similarly, why not think about actively becoming involved in charity work through volunteering or becoming a trustee? Whatever little we can give will no doubt be of great benefit.
So there we have the five resolutions that I think you can keep in 2016. The key now is to come up with solid resolutions in the categories given and write them down! Keep them written down in a visible place (Sticky Notes on the computer is great!). Writing down targets has well-documented advantages. In fact, a study in the USA found that the 3% of an MBA class who had written down their goals ended up earning over 10x more than the rest of the 97% class combined.
Start by writing your goals in the comments below and let’s grow together!