How to make meaningful New Year's resolutions

21 Dec 18

While it’s normal to set New Years Resolutions such as “lose weight” or “eat healthily”, this sort of goal setting often leads to failure a few weeks (or days in). Feeling disheartened, you give up and revert to old habits.

Rather than setting a goal based on a particular target (like “Exercise every day” or “Stop eating chocolate”), try this instead:

What one word – a core quality -- do you want to embody in 2019?

Maybe it’s generosity. Or health. Or gratefulness. Or patience. Or prayerfulness.

Be sure to keep the quality somewhere you are constantly reminded of it. You could write about it, draw it, make a vision page or talk about it with someone you trust. Dive into the details. Make it come alive!

Then ask yourself, “how can I cultivate this quality every day?”

If the core quality you chose is generosity, what are some options for cultivating generosity each day? Make a practical list such as:

  1. Exercise random acts of kindness – opening the door for someone, letting someone who may be in a rush go in front of you in a queue or simply smiling at others around you.
  2. Being generous with your time and attention with others
  3. Acknowledging the generosity of others by saying thank you
  4. Saying no to a small luxury once a week (coffee, for example) and donating the money
  5. Volunteering for a non-profit, charity or a good cause
  6. Becoming a regular donor for a non-profit or charity.

Once you have a list, each day you choose one thing from the list. On the days you’re highly motivated, choose something that requires some effort (volunteering) On the days when your motivation is low, choose something that is easier (a simple act of kindness). 

You can do the same thing for any quality.

What would patience look like? (Take a breath before speaking to your brother. Line up in the supermarket queue and listen to music on your phone etc).

What would prayerfulness look like? (Saying an extra prayer in the afternoon. Asking your friends if you can pray for them etc).

So this New Years Eve, instead of committing to a resolution, commit to cultivating a core quality such as generosity, prayerfulness or creativity.

If you’re having trouble brainstorming a quality to commit to, consider Catholic Social Teaching (CST) – the very values Caritas Australia bases its work on. CST is holistic and covers all spheres of life. You can choose to embody the principle of preferential option for the poor (being more generous) or stewardship of creation (being more environmentally conscious).

 May 2019 be a wonderful year for you.