I hear a lot of New Year’s resolutions talk at this time of year. A friend texted me today saying “Munching on cookies at work. Not too long until New Years and vegetables”. A coworker commented that he was determined to “get in shape in 2012”. I overheard a woman in the grocery store checkout line tell a friend that “this is the year I am getting my house de-cluttered”.
This time last year, I let you know that I was saying No to resolutions. And I still am. But after reading some recent positive psychology research, I am going one step further. I am taking the time to reflect on all of the things I have done well during this past year.
Research shows that taking the time to acknowledge your accomplishments and successes can be good for your mental and physical health. So instead of focusing on all of the steps I have yet to take, I am going to focus on all the hard work I have already done.
There’s nothing wrong with planning out some sustainable steps you can take to reach a particular goal. In fact, that’s probably a great thing to do at any time of the year. But, as New Year’s resolutions typically peter out by February, I am spending time on remembering the accomplishments instead. My guess is that focusing on those will give me some much needed momentum to keep making changes.
The other fascinating research I have been reading shows that when you reflect others’ strengths and achievements back to them, your own level of happiness increases.
So that’s the New year’s plan in our family. We are going to share a few observations about each family member as well as about ourselves. So I may share with my husband that he has done a phenomenal job of settling into his new work position. He has really improved his work-life balance and I am excited to see that he is back on his bike on a more regular basis. He does not need to comment – and he can add any reflections on his own progress during the past year.
Whew. I feel relieved just thinking about our New Year’s plan. We’ll celebrate our accomplishments with some sparkling apple cider and cookies and move into 2012 focused on the positive. May it be a great year for each of you!