New Year’s Resolutions by Caroline Woffenden

Don’t bother. They don’t work.

For years… and years, I used to religiously chalk up the same five, give or take: work harder, achieve more, talk less, lose weight, be nice. And by the 2nd January I’d have usually fallen short of at least two (and more often than not the latter two… thin, hungry people are usually less tolerant…)

Living your ideal life, hanging on for dear life to a list of actions and ideals that you’ve developed while in a chocolate and cheese enhanced post-Christmas trance cannot be taken literally, surely?

Indeed, I’m yet to meet someone who smugly informs me that they’ve kept to their yearly resolutions for the past 364 days (and if such sorts do exist they’re not the people I usually attempt to spend the biggest piss-up of the year with…)

So, as result of this latest thinking I have rather happily given myself permission to stop attempting to achieve to become that ‘trivial pursuit queen, oh so interesting (!), 8 stone, athletic, Nobel Peace Prize holder, MD of the year, golden mother’ status… it just ain’t gunna happen.

All that said I do take self-development (forgive the Americanism) very seriously. It’s something I bang on about to those around me – a lot.  And God knows, if you’re stuck with someone for 8 hours a day you hope that they have more than the X Factor and Friday night down the Fox and Duck to chat about. As an over-worn T shirt I had in the 90’s used to remind those who were busy reading my chest at the time used to state: ‘If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much room’. Quite so. (X Factor and the Fox categorically not edgy enough then…)

So this New Year’s day I picked up Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning. Move over unachievable resolutions – this was all about adopting some basic principles to achieve your dreams… and all of which I – and I suspect many of us – do. And they are: number one, meditation. OK cutting the jargon this really means ‘thinking time’. It’s important. I’m often categorised as a reflector… one of the more flattering adjectives to describe my personality type. Thinking / reflecting / contemplating… call it what you will… is important for us all. Spend ten minutes a day in your own dedicated company simply thinking and see how it changes your approach. Diarise thinking time if you need to. I have done for year.

Elrod’s second principle is affirmations… aka…. what you really want to achieve that hour, that day, that year… cutting through the steam of non-stop internal dialogue we all have, and simply stating to yourself what you really want, why you want it and who and what you are committed to in order to achieve it. Powerful. I aim to do more of this.

Thirdly is visualisation – visualise and see yourself where you want to be… and enjoy the process of getting there too. Life, as they often say, is a journey, so you may as well enjoy the ride. Indeed.

Reading is the fourth mantra. Reading allows you to step into new worlds, challenges your existing one and builds knowledge, ideas and strategies. Without getting too political on you now, someone once said that knowledge is power. And she was right. Read a minimum of 10 pages a day. You’ll be a far more interested, and interesting, person for it.

The fifth practice is exercise. 10 minutes a day can revolutionise how you feel, let alone think. Whether you choose yoga or sprinting it’s escapism and an oxygen booster. Try it. And Hal’s final recommendation is journalling as he calls it (he is American…). Put your thoughts down on paper: bring them alive – capture the ideas, gain clarity and review and celebrate success. It will empower you.

So cheers Hal (yes… I am drinking in January, and eating chocolate as it happens and certainly not attending the gym twice a day… ) – I’m not subscribing to resolutions this year but I am committed to waking a little earlier than even my six month old daughter allows me to gain a little more time towards a potential revolution. 2016, bring it on I say. Happy New Year.