Self improvement A thoughtful approach to New Year's Resolutions 4 January 2022 • 6 mins reading time

It’s the time of year again where everyone sets overly ambitious goals that are doomed to make them unhappy. In the past few years I’ve moved away from coming up with any resolutions with the excuse of “I should’ve started it already if I cared about it that much”. That being said, I do think the end of each year is a great opportunity to reflect on your life and to be mindful of what you’d like to improve in.

I decided to publish this blog post for two reasons:

  1. To show people a more natural way to determine what habits and actions to take forward into the year.
  2. To have accountability for my own habits and actions I’m committing to.

Start from your values

In the lead up to New Year, I thought I’d think about 2022 with a slightly different approach to ensure that I am able to follow through on the changes I want to see. To start with, I spent some time thinking about the values I want to align myself with further. From these, I then thought I’d find it easier to come up with behaviours that actually aligned with these values. It’s also then easier to tie the behaviours back to your values in moments where you may feel like breaking your resolutions.

The general approach I’m advocating for here is:

  1. Step back and determine what your values are.
  2. List new or existing actions that align with your values.

Thinking about the existing habits and actions you’ve taken also serves as an important reminder of the things you’ve already done. It’s very easy to focus on what you’re not doing when thinking about resolutions, but it’s healthy to reflect on everything you are already doing.

My values

Sitting down to write out my values was a weirdly difficult process. We like to think we know what we care about but articulating it proved to be harder than I anticipated. That being said, I identified 8 core values that I want to carry forward with me:

Value Rationale
Kindness It feels like each year the world becomes a more unkind and intolerant place - I do not want to contribute to this.

I must be kind and assume that everyone is doing their best given their circumstances.
Health Without my health, I am nothing. I learnt that the hard way in 2021 and it’s been a long journey back.

Our physical and mental health set the platform for everything else in our lives.
Gratefulness My own happiness and actions depend on maintaining a healthy perspective and being genuinely grateful for what I have and what life throws at me.
Giving back At a global scale, I am incredibly fortunate and I must look to share with people less fortunate.

Unfortunately we cannot rely on our governments to reach everyone in need, therefore we must look at how we can help others in need.
Living sustainably The future and health of our species is in grave danger if we don’t get a grip on our environment impact.

Government policy is too slow to react, therefore we need to make consumer choices to prioritise sustainability.
Using time effectively We have a finite life, I do not want to look back and feel like I’ve not made best use of my time here.

This requires recognising the things that matter to you, and those that don’t.
Pushing myself Life is short, there’s a lot of things to try. It’s also important to me that I see how far I can go in some of these things.

Like using time wisely, it’s about looking back and thinking I gave it my all.
Making things Screens are dominating our lives, I want to get away from this and find enjoyment in using my hands to make things like I loved doing as a child.

Taking action

For each of my values, I spent some time listing the actions that I wanted to see myself taking in 2022 and beyond that aligned with the value in question. This process helped me identify actions that would be purposeful to me. That being said, here’s the existing and new actions I plan on taking in 2022:

Kindness

  1. Take a genuine interest in everyone I meet and speak to, recognising that I can learn something unique from everyone.
  2. Do not use people as a means to an end.
  3. Spread laughter and joy wherever I can: at work, with friends and family etc.
  4. Be kind to myself and don’t hold myself to different standards.

Health

  1. Strength train at least 4 times a week.
  2. At least 1 session of intense cardio a week.
  3. Prevent and rehab injuries through regular stretching, yoga and mindfulness about my training.
  4. Reduce working hours to 4 days a week.
  5. Meditate daily.
  6. Continue to learn about the mind and body - sharing my learnings on this blog where possible.
  7. Track my mood, diet, exercise, supplements and sleep to spot trends.
  8. Say no to things that are not going to be healthy for me.
  9. Drink a maximum of twice a week.
  10. Intermittent fast with 8 hour window for food.

Gratefulness

  1. Set aside 5 minutes a day to reflect on my life and think about the people and things I’m grateful for and why.
  2. Send messages of appreciation to people who have done something kind.
  3. Learn more about other people’s stories and truly empathise with them.

Giving back

  1. Donate to charity monthly through work to benefit from matching.
  2. Look for volunteering and mentoring opportunities.
  3. Be an advocate for mental health, diversity and wellbeing, both in and out of work.

Living sustainably

  1. Continue to eat a vegetarian diet.
  2. Completely offset my carbon footprint.
  3. Ensure the bulk of my investments are in green funds.
  4. Buy secondhand where possible.
  5. Support local businesses.

Using time effectively

  1. Reduce working hours to 4 days a week.
  2. Set strict rules and limits around my use of technology.
  3. Plan things more to ensure I’m getting done the things I care about.
  4. Try new things in excess free time and see what I discover that I enjoy.

Pushing myself

  1. Keep a list of things to try and give them a go.
  2. Be diligent with my habits and look for sustainable growth.
  3. Set habits, not goals.
  4. Use discipline, not motivation.

Making things

  1. Write a blog post once a month, if not more frequently.
  2. Pursue creative hobbies more frequently, e.g. drawing, painting, photography and music.
  3. Look for new or existing hobbies where I can escape screens.