Yes, it’s that time of year. The holidays are behind us, bringing with them introspection and thoughts of the year past, inevitably leading to well-intentioned resolutions for things people wish to improve upon in the year that has just begun.
Really, there is never a need to wait until the ball (or the guitar, or the potato, or the Moon Pie) drops to resolve to do something better than you did before. Here are some things that would benefit us all to do better, starting whenever you decide to give it a whirl. Cheers!
- Be nicer to the people you see every day. It’s easy to take them for granted: the people in your home or workplace who make your life more entertaining or infuriating, in turns. Take a moment to invest some of your emotional capital in them and it will pay dividends. (At the very least, the infuriating moments won’t be as bad…)
- Use your manners. As we are more connected to the global community, we often forget those who are within arm’s reach. Hold doors for people behind you. Say, “Excuse me.” Offer a sincere, “Thank you” whenever it’s appropriate. Be courteous. Remember what you learned in kindergarten and apply it to the world around you.
- Don’t give up easily. Just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean the effort should be abandoned. Keep working at it. Don’t let failures keep you from trying again. There are a great many conveniences we enjoy today that might not exist if their inventors had given up after a handful of failures.
- Learn something every day. Start with a new word, or use the internet to ask a question. Seek the answers to things you’ve always wanted to know. Explore in books, museums, nature, wherever you are…the possibilities are endless and the internet is often at your fingertips. Use it to expand your horizons.
- Try new things. That cute little shop on the corner you’ve thought about stopping by? Go in. The scary-looking flaming dish you saw at the restaurant? Order it. The roller coaster you’re fascinated by but are afraid of? Ride it. You don’t have to do it again if you don’t like it, but you should at least try it so you won’t regret the missed opportunity later.
- Make a bucket list. This one is self-explanatory, so this is the thought to take away: you can’t start crossing stuff off if you don’t have a list.
- Don’t waste time on regrets or worry. Neither one will change the situation and both will only make you feel worse. Plan, dream, commiserate, scream it out, draw, write, sing, do whatever it takes to still the voice that says it’s all bad… and allow the hope to blossom. (Using your “call a friend” option is a good one here if all else fails. )
- Be flexible. Even if you are an obsessive planner, things are not always going to work out the way you envisioned. When that happens, see #7, then deploy Plan B (or C… or Q if that’s what it takes) and move on. Take a deep breath and work through it.
- Give everything you do your best effort. Whether you’re getting paid for it or not, if something is worth doing, isn’t it worth doing right?
- Give back. Donate something: time, clothes, food, expertise, or even cash. Nothing feels quite as good as knowing you helped someone else by giving something without expectation of a reward.
- Remember who actually contributes the dollars you get paid for doing the work you do. Yes, you have to answer to the boss when something goes wrong, but he is not the one who votes with his business, ultimately providing the cash that makes its way to your bank account. Your customers, no matter what industry employs you, are the ones who pay you for your work. Please remember that when you are frustrated with them (or co-workers, or the situation) and it will help ground you and enable you to provide the service they deserve for their patronage.
- Give yourself a break! So many of us rush from one responsibility to another that we forget to take time for ourselves, and we are often harder on ourselves than necessary if we fail to accomplish everything we have set out to do. It’s okay if you’re not perfect; in fact, it would be terrifying for the rest of us if you were. It is acceptable to say, “No” sometimes or to ask for help.
Take a deep breath, look around, and imagine what the world would be like if more of us resolved to live with gratitude and a positive outlook. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but just like any thing worth having, it takes work. Habits are built, not decided upon. Good or bad, you get out of life what you put into it. Resolve to put good in so you can have good to share.
May this be a year for the record books…in a good way!