Ditch Your Traditional New Year’s Resolutions

Typically, right after Jan 1, we start saying resolutions for the New Year,

  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Get promoted by June
  • Find a better, more satisfying jobs
  • Get a 25% raise
  • Buy a house

If these sound like the resolutions you are making this year, I challenge you to throw them out!  Why?  We can be so result oriented that sometimes it keeps us from simply experiencing life.  Is life about results or is life about experiences?  Result-oriented resolutions have three major downsides

  1. We may give up because the goal is so daunting to achieve that we end up doing nothing at all.
  2. We would feel disappointed if we don’t achieve it
  3. We don’t appreciate the journey at all because we are so attached to whether we will achieve the result or not.

So let’s make this new year about experiences (anything new or challenging that you want to do) regardless of the result from doing it.   It’s amazing what new parts of work and life we can experience with this perspective.  Instead of staying on some rigid path, this kind of experience based resolution can inspire us to

  • Freely explore things we have wanted to do to expand our horizons beyond what we know.  This is how we use to learn as kids.
  • Let us appreciate each new /challenging action we take in the new year that is unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable.
  • Not worry about end result.  Just be present to each experience and learn from it.
  • Make it fun and rewarding to take the first action on something new or difficult.  Half of the battle in trying anything unfamiliar or challenging is taking the first step.  Now make it a priority in 2013 to do so.

If you accept my challenge, then do the following

  • Set an experience-based resolution – I will do 50 (or any number you are comfortable with) new or challenging experiences in the new year or I will do one new/challenging experience a week (or every two weeks or a month).  The criteria for an experience are simple – anything we have never done before or we are reluctant to do.    They don’t all have to be hard.   Some can be fun The focus is on new experiences and learning to broaden our skills, our perspective, ultimately enrich our lives.
  • Create an Experience Wish List– do this now and list 100-200 experience by mid Jan.  The idea is not to have to do them all but have many to choose from.   It’s fun and you can make the sky the limit without worrying about when or how you will do it.  They can be
    • Small like (buy food for a homeless person or go ice skating at least once) or big (write a book – I will teach you to ace your job, host a local event for my blog reader).
    • For work (If you tend to react emotionally, react with calm and patience next time you have difficulty working with some one);  for yourself (go skydiving); or  for your family (Expose Isabel to the arts – take her to dance and theater shows).
    • Serious (cold call a fellow Wharton Alumni about a job opportunity at his company) or Fun (plan a trip to Brazil – finally!)
    • Get your friends or family involved – ask them to add to your list
  • Cross them out as you do them – If you are anything like me, there is satisfaction and appreciation when we cross out a list.  You can do the same with your experience list.  What’s amazing is by end of this new year, you can surprise yourself at how much more you have experienced this year.

You can see my experience wish list  here.  Have fun and best wishes to you in experiencing life, work, and family in new and different ways in the new year.  I am always in your corner.


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