As we approach New Year’s Day, most people take some time to make new resolutions for the upcoming year. The expression “New Year, New You” is ambitious as it implies a huge shift. Planning big changes are stressful. Most people give up their resolution within 6 month which then add to their unhappiness. Your approach to a New Year Resolution may be what is guaranteed to stress you out.

There is a common theme about New Year Resolutions written at this time of year. Many quote the following most popular goals for the upcoming year:

  • Exercise more
  • Lose weight
  • Get more organized
  • Learn a new skill or hobby
  • Live life to the fullest
  • Save more money
  • Quit smoking
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Travel more
  • Read more

There is a basic assumption that pops up in all these. The problem is the word “more” – either implicit or explicit. The underlining premise is that your life is inadequate and that you need to do more to be happy and have a sense of well-being.

But do you? Isn’t doing more part of the issue. You are at your wits end maybe running around bringing your kids to activities or keeping up with your job demands. Your calendar is already full with scheduled events. Yet we are told to do more? It is a recipe for a stressed out disaster.

How about this year, you start looking at other approaches. Firstly, you need to examine your past year. What has made you feel good and not so good? What were some unexpected barriers that you encountered that sent plans side-ways? What did you have to compromise and give priority to one thing versus another? This self exploration will give you insights into what held you back during the year.

Given all this, the next step is to determine what to do. Here are some ways to look at the barriers to moving forward:

  • Doing less of one or more things to spend more time on another
  • Timing is everything. Perhaps it is not the time to do spend energy on a particular goal. Or you decide to prioritize time on one particular goal over another. You may want to relax the timeline you have set for yourself to achieve a goal.
  • Diversify your activities in pursuit of a goal to expand chances of success. On the other hand you may wish to concentrate your efforts in one aspect to become an expert in that area.
  • Examine your activities in terms of what gives you maximum happiness. Pursue those more and let others go.

It is important to note that your New Year Resolutions need to be examined in the light of impact to those friends and family around you. One year, I resolved to compete in a triathlon. My training time increased to two hours per day. However, I was up at 5am to workout so that I was available for my young family for the rest of the day.

Instead of using a one lens approach of doing “more” in a New Year Resolution – one that will stress you out- use different ways of approaching your goal that is context with your reality and focus on making you happy. After all the greeting is “Happy New Year!”