30 December 2013

Taking Stock at the End of the Year

The chances are good that if you’ve ever made New Year’s resolutions — unless you’re unusually disciplined –- you’ve broken them quickly.  Changing long-ingrained habits is often much more challenging than we expect. Research has found that about 80 percent of the people who make resolutions on Jan. 1 have abandoned them by Valentine’s Day, according to Marti Hope Gonzales, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.

So this year you might try a new way of taking stock of your life at the end of the year. Why not make a list of things you did right in 2013 instead of what you hope to achieve in 2014? Writing down what you did well will remind you of your strengths and reinforce positive behavior that you want to continue. If you save your list, it will also give you a record of your gains from one year to the next.

Your list might include your answers to one or more of these questions about the past year:

  • What risk did you take that paid off?
  • What was the wisest thing you did?
  • What fun activity or event did you try for the first time?
  • What was the best compliment you received?
  • What did you learn about yourself?

You won’t lose ten pounds or quit smoking while you’re sitting in front of a notebook or keyboard thinking about these questions. But your answers may jog your memory about helpful steps you took last year and how you could keep moving forward in 2014. Happy New Year!