Is there any sense in making new year resolutions?

Making new year resolutions can improve our lives if we diligently work on them. Even if we never carry on with them, by writing down resolutions it gives us the chance to dream of a better life. Yet, if we are wholeheartedly dedicated to our resolutions, there are a few tips to remember in order to avoid disappointment at the end of the year when we do the maths and we see that we are far away from reaching our goals.

When a new year is about to begin, some of us like to make a list of resolutions. For the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve made resolutions that would help me live my dreams.

Throughout the year, I would get entangled into the events that life brought in my way and I would lose focus of my resolutions. At the end of the year, I would have feelings of failure and disappointment coming from my incapability to kick-start or complete my personal or professional projects.

Dan Puric, a Romanian actor, once said “If you want God to laugh, tell him about your plans.” Many of us don’t see the point in making one year plans. Some of us succumb to higher forces of life and cope with life situations that require different skills, emotional reactions and actions than those that would lead to reaching goals.

I am somewhere in between pursuing goals with determination and waiting to see what plans the destiny has in store for me. For example, for years, I’ve been planning to write a book on spiritual development in a foreign environment. I’ve started two drafts already. But year after year, I faced other challenges, which required my energy and time that I would have otherwise put into writing my dream book.

I’ve learned a few things about reaching goals:

  1. Have a list of huge and ambitious goals to work on. Keep it short – two, three at maximum.
  2. Have some self-discipline and break the big goal into smaller steps to follow through each month of the year.
  3. Be ready to put on hold the work on a project in favour of more important life situations that you didn’t envisage in the beginning the year (i.e, the birth of your child, the illness of a parent, etc)
  4. Keep focus on what is more important, that is your wellbeing. Therefore, no matter what happens, don’t beat yourself up if at the end of the year, you have still to work on your list of top goals. As a matter of fact, it is very valuable what you’ve learned from the unexpected experiences you lived. What insights into yourself did you gain? For example, if you maintained your inner peacefulness through challenging times, most likely you’ll have the energy to get back to where you left your work-in-progress.
  5. Be flexible to revise and even change your new year resolutions throughout the year. Goals may be too idealistic or unrealistic. Unexpected opportunities may come along. You may lose interest in pursuing a certain goal. For example, you may have aimed at finding a job abroad but then something happens and you realise you want to stay close to your family. You may have aimed at losing 20 kg but by the time you lost 15 kg you feel that it is time to stop because the respective weight is just perfect for you. Life is about change, so allow your goals to change as you gain more insight into your life.

Reaching goals can give feelings of satisfaction, achievement and meaningfulness. Above all, it is a process that challenges our beliefs and skills. If at the end of the process we are better persons than before, than this is the most priceless achievement.

How about you, do you like making new year resolutions? How do you manage the process of turning them into reality?

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Living without desires?

Embracing braver attitude towards change

Who said that it is easy to follow your dreams

Carpe Diem? Yes, please, but how?

The Latin poet, Horace must have known since he was the one who created this aphorism ‘Carpe Diem’, which in English is translated as ‘Seize the day’. I was 16 when I studied Latin and read for the first time about it. “I wanna do that too!” I thought.  The idea became a part of me: life is short, enjoy this minute without worry about the future. Still, years passed and to my disappointment, I realised how hard it’s been for me to ‘Carpe Diem’.

Before getting pregnant, I was meditating daily. Each meditation was a struggle to keep thoughts out of my mind! I used to sit there in my meditation position for half an hour in order to reach that state of ‘no thought, but peacefulness’ for few minutes only. Once in a while when my mind was too restless to meditate, I comforted myself with the thought that Elisabeth Gilbert had similar struggles, as she confesses in her novel, “Eat, Pray, Love“.

Now when I am a mother, I want to Carpe Diem with my baby. He is a very energetic and curious baby who sleeps for 2 hours maximum per day. Out of these 2 hours, he sleeps about 1,5 hours when I walk him around in his pram. One hour and half of walking provides the opportunity to have some time on my own. One day, I paid attention to my thoughts during this one hour and half. I passed by a playground where a mother was playing basketball with her kid. It was a joy to watch them. “I can’t wait for my little one to grow up.”, I thought.

I passed by a restaurant, where some people, smartly dressed were gathered in a circle and drinking wine from trendy design glasses. “Hm, the times when I used to be a social butterfly!” I was sinking into memories when I remembered how I used to think back then. When I used to see a mother and her baby, I used to think, “Lucky her! She must have the time of her life!”.

You must understand now the disappointment with myself. The life is here and now but my mind is all over, in the past and the future. The baby woke up at the sound of a machine drilling on the side walk. He started crying. “Huh! If he only slept ten more minutes to arrive home.” Faced with his louder and louder crying, all I could think was, “OK, what do I do now? Do I let him cry till we get home?”

His crying was breaking my heart. I took him in the arms. He calmed down and started pointing in the direction of the small park that we were just passing by. My mind started protesting, “You have to get home. Housekeeping tasks are waiting for you!” I was restless. In front of my eyes, the little one was shining with the joy of stepping on the green grass. He stopped at a tree trunk on which some mushrooms had grown (quite ugly, in my opinion). He looked at it carefully. I yielded to his desire. I followed him in his discovery of the vegetation in the park.

After this walk, I happened to find an article in Psychology Today, which talks about “Hiking with a Child“. The author of the article is Deborah L. Davis, a developmental psychologist who advises to consider two aspects when hiking with your child: 1. the temperament, interests and developmental stage of the child. 2. your goals as a parent. As a mother of a baby who is soon one year old, I found the article useful to put our short-term life into perspective.

What I found even more useful about the article was related to the goals of the parent, what is most important for the parent. My goal is to ‘Carpe Diem’ with my baby. The question is how to achieve that when having loads of practical issues that need to be done?