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Every new year we are challenged to make resolutions aimed at making us stretch, grow, realize some longed for attribute or achieve some sought after goal. Certainly, a new year sets the stage for reviewing life, examining values and charting new courses. But, of the estimated 100 million resolutions Americans often hastily made on New Year's eve, statistics show that 80% of them don’t make it to the end of January.

In light of this disheartening statistic, we could be tempted to follow English novelist Fanny Burney’s lead, "Far from having taken any positive step, I have not yet even formed any resolution." On the other hand, maybe we don’t keep our resolutions because we don’t arrive at them knowing what will really make us happy. Making the challenge to determine what our own particular ‘happy’ is.

I look forward to hearing this month’s feature story – A HAPPY New Year – will assist you in ascertaining – all resolutions aside – what would make the next twelve months not only productive but personally happy.

J.
 









Recent quotes from Coach Joyce K. Reynolds have appeared in The Wall Street Journal; USA Today; CareerJournal.com; Chicago Tribune; American Airlines Magazine, The American Way; Microsoft's bcentral.com; Cosmopolitan; Working Mother Magazine; Learning/Discovery Channel/tlc.com; Sun-Sentinel; Glamour.



 


     
 

Most of us can easily answer questions like - what new skills would I like to learn in the coming year? What bad habits would I like to eliminate? What would I most like to accomplish? What new place would I like to visit? But, things get a little murkier when we attempt to answer the question - what can I do in the coming year that will make me happy? Meaning, what do I really want out of life? If you're in the 'I don't know' group, take comfort in knowing that you're not alone.

Then, take a few minutes to start charting your new year’s happiness course through some of the following information:

1. There's No Hurry.
Understand from the beginning that life is not a race and there is no deadline for meeting self-assigned goals. In William Penn's words, "Hasty resolutions are of the nature of vows, and to be equally avoided." It is smart to consciously give ourselves permission to take reasonable time to accomplish our goals. In fact, if we spend the entire year determining what means a lot to us, what we'd really like to be doing, what really rings our chimes, it will be a year well-spent.

2. Happiness is...
While we have all heard and repeated the 'Happy New Year' phrase countless times, most of us don't really know what 'happy' is. If what the Dalai Lama suggests in The Art of Happiness is true - that "the very motion of our life is towards happiness" - then defining its elements for ourselves would seem imperative. Turning to Webster's for the definition, we see happiness first defined as a state of well-being and contentment. Or second, as a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Interestingly, Webster's lists as obsolete the definition of happiness as good fortune which speaks solely to economic well-being. So, for any of us who swear that being happy means making a lot of money, we might want to look a little further.

3. Love or Money?
Alfred Lord Tennyson said, "The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence of but in the mastery of his passions." It would be difficult to dispute that working in line with our passions is more rewarding than working just for money. But what about the economics? Let's take a look at a study that was done from 1960 to 1980 by business columnist and psychologist, Dr. Srully Blotnick. He tracked the careers of 1,500 business school graduates who had been grouped into two categories, the first group of 1,245 consisted of people who said they wanted to make money first so that they could do what they really wanted to do later. The second group of 255 intended to pursue their true interests first, believing the money would eventually follow. After 20 years there were 101 millionaires. All but one came from the second group. Professor Blotnick concluded, "The overwhelming majority of people who have become wealthy have become so thanks to work they found profoundly absorbing. Their 'luck' arose from the accidental dedication they had to an area they enjoyed." In other words, working at what we love is not only emotionally nourishing, it may be the most profitable professional path we can take.

4. One By One.
Many of us find ourselves on overwhelm or meeting with confusion, hesitation or failure because we insist on trying to accomplish everything at once. Rather then over-challenging ourselves with intentions to immediately get into the big picture - the end goal or goals - we're better off to take things in bite sizes. We can start by prioritizing and determining the interlinked importance of our goals. The ones that show up at the top of the list will be the ones that are most important for us to tackle first in an organized, reward-oriented way. Particularly, the accomplishment of the most important goals should be planned over time in order to avoid frustration or delay.

5. Don't Worry, Be Happy.
It has been said that "many of us have mastered the neurotic art of spending much of our lives worrying about a variety of things all at once." Many of which, by the way, never happen. It further appears that a lot of us believe we will be happy only when all our problems are solved, our relationships improved, our finances in order, our 'success' achieved. And, instead of noting our progress, we choose to worry that we have not yet met the end results. So, what about 'don't worry, be happy?' Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently published findings confirming what many doctors have begun to observe - that optimistic people live longer than their pessimistic peers. In fact, the difference between a moderately optimistic and a moderately pessimistic person may be about 12 years of life, according to one researcher. "We've always suspected there was a mind-body relationship, but this is really the first superb, long-term study," says Dr. Michael Roizen, a professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. We can choose. Be pessimistic and worry. Or be optimistic, don't worry and increase our chances of living longer, happier lives.

6. Let the Good Times Roll.
"I wake up every morning determined to change the world and have me a hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult," quipped writer E.B. White. While most of us can't go out into the world each day on a totally spontaneous note, we can go out there prepared to make choices in favor of the things we enjoy. That means we identify, add, change, or eliminate things from our daily routines in favor of what means the most to us. We remove things that irritate us and add to our schedules ordinary pleasures that will refresh our days and show good self-respect. We dig to find out what excites or stretches us thus adding greater satisfaction to each day. We recognize that happiness comes from life balance that includes plenty of planned good times.

7. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.
Author and naturalist John Burroughs said, "One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this to rise above little things." Richard Carlson echoed this sentiment in his book, 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.' We can so easily get side-tracked from any state of happiness when we let the little things in life aggravate us. Burroughs and Carlson are both urging us to find ways to calm down and get some perspective in the midst of our incredibly hurried, stress-filled lives. "Think of your problems as potential teachers; do one thing at a time; try to live in the present moment; let others have the glory at time; write down your most stubborn positions and see if you can soften them; learn to trust your intuitions; and, live each day as if it might be your last." In other words, when we're not caught up in the petty little annoyances of life, our chances of enjoying happier, more stress-free days improve greatly.

8. Emotion Not Commotion.
The challenge is to make sure that we are taking the right actions instead of just being in action. Finding the essential part of ourselves that will tell us what we really value takes time and requires that we feel not just think. That we concentrate on being instead of doing. And, not let our busyness waylay us. Finding our points of happiness requires that we check in with our senses, feel our way to certain answers and make our life plans in accordance with our best instincts and intuitions. This more readily occurs in the quiet, thoughtful times we allow ourselves.

9. Just Do It. Now.
"Good resolutions are like babies crying in church," said Scottish author, Charles M. Sheldon. "They should be carried out immediately." Notice the word 'good' and understand that once we have a clear picture of something we really want, there's no further reason for delay. It's simply time to go out and reach for it.

10. Realistic Expectations.
Centuries ago, Caliph Abdul Rahim wrote, "I have reigned more than fifty years in victory and peace. During this time I have been beloved by my people, dreaded by my enemies and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure have all been at my beck and call, not has my earthly pleasure been missing to complete my sense of perfect bliss. In this situation, I have diligently number the days of pure and genuine happiness that have fallen to my lot. They number fourteen." With all the world at his command, the Caliph stands as a reminder that we can not live in a perpetual state of happiness. Nor should we strive to. In fact, we would be wise to look for just those moments of joy that can arise in each day. Those instants of happiness that come when we have a good laugh, offer or receive a kind gesture. Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt said, "I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves." Only when we take time to know ourselves well enough to identify what really matters to us can we really invite happiness into our lives. We can not bow to discouragement or collapse in defeat. So, on the road this Happy New Year, remember the words of Winston Churchill and 'never, never, never, NEVER give up!'



 


 
 

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work.
Katherine Gallia

"The majority of New Year’s resolutions will end in failure," says acupuncturist Carolyn Cohen, L.Ac. "Our motivation, both physical and mental, drops to an all-time low around January 1." From a Taoist perspective, she says, the American holiday season - partying, traveling, decorating, and shopping - is out of tune with the deep, quiet qualities of winter. Winter is a yin season - dark, wet, cold, slow-moving. Winter's yin nature also makes it the worst time of year to begin a vigorous workout schedule or stringent weight-loss program, like many of us do as New Year's resolutions. Winter is a time to conserve strength, to rest and to build energy, not expend it. Keep an eye on nature, Cohen says. Just as plants reemerge in the spring, so should you. So what should you resolve for this new year? We've put together some suggestions to help you begin 2003 in tune with the season.

Highlight the Positive. Instead of focusing on what you think you should change, make a list of your good qualities and all the things in your life for which you are thankful. Sometimes we all need to remind ourselves how lucky we are. Pamper Yourself. Once a week do something just for you: Get a massage, take an herbal therapy bath, give yourself some lazy hours doing nothing, meditate, or rent your favorite movie.

Open Up. Turn off the television and the computer and try to open yourself up to new ideas and experiences. Once you turn off the tube, you'll be surprised how much extra time you'll have to explore your life and your surroundings.

Try Yoga. Quiet and invigorating, yoga is a perfect wintertime - or anytime - exercise. And if you're one of the many people who spends too much time in front of a computer, check out Keyboard Yoga. There you'll find more than two dozen yoga poses and self-massage techniques--including Turkey Stretch, Prayer Pose, and Third Eye Massage--that you can do right in your chair. There's even an animated graphic to help you through the motions.

Go Feng Shui. Get a feng shui evaluation of your home or office. With this ancient Chinese art of interior and exterior design, you can harmonize and balance your environment while helping you create a positive energy flow that will attract good luck, prosperity, and peace.

Eat Your Vegetables. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day to ensure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. According to experts, many U.S. health problems, especially cancers, can be prevented or corrected with proper nutrition.




 


 
 

Perpetual New Year Resolutions
Ann Landers

Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time.

Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Share a funny story with someone whose sprits are dragging. A good laugh can be very good medicine.

Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep. Pay a debt. Give a soft answer. Free yourself of envy and malice. Encourage some youth to do this or her best. Share your experience, and offer support. Young people need role models.

Make a genuine effort to stay in closer touch with family and good friends. Resolve to stop magnifying small problems and shooting from the lip. Words that you have to eat can be hard to digest.

Find the time to be kind and thoughtful. All of us have the same allotment: 24 hours a day. Give a compliment. It might give someone a badly needed lift.

Thing things though. Forgive an injustice. Listen more. Be kind.

Apologize when you realize you are wrong. An apology never diminishes a person. It elevates him. Don't blow your own horn. If you've done something praiseworthy, someone will notice eventually.

Try to understand a point of view that is different from your own. Few things are 100 percent one way or another. Examine the demands you make on others.

Lighten up. When you feel like blowing your top, ask yourself, "Will it matter in a week from today?". Laugh the loudest when the joke is on you.

The sure way to have a friend is to be one. We are all connected by our humanity, and we need each other. Avoid malcontents and pessimists. They drag you down and contribute nothing.

Don't discourage a beginner from trying something risky. Nothing ventured means nothing gained. Be optimistic. The can-do spirit is the fuel that makes things go.

Read something uplifting. Deep-six the trash. You won't eat garbage - why put it in your head? Don't abandon your old-fashioned principles. They never go out of style. When courage is needed, ask yourself, "If not me, who? If not now, when?"

Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look 10 years younger. Don't be afraid to say, "I love you". Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.




 


 
 

Question:
Every year I seem to make the same resolutions and never seem to keep any of them. It's not that I don't move forward, it's just that I seem to lose sight of the things I thought were so important on New Year's Eve. Should I just stop making resolutions or am I just making the wrong ones? Some of the things I want - like more freedom on my job - are really important to me. I just don't seem to know how to achieve them, I guess. Can you help?

Answer:
If you’ve been making the same resolutions over and over and not meeting them, the first thing to do is re-evaluate your goals. If you determine the ones you have put into place year after year are truly things you care about, then start prioritizing them so that you can work them one at a time.

Establish a focused way of working each goal – breaking it down into important pieces, noting and enjoying the momentum of moving towards the accomplishment of the big goal in manageable phases. As you do this, try to find ways to reward yourself as you go.

If you commit to thinking and acting as if the goal has already been accomplished, you will find yourself moving more easily to actualizing it. This is a way of dealing with any ‘fear of success’ that might be plaguing you. Pay attention to all the things you are learning along the way and give yourself credit for making progress. In other words, don’t plan to wait until the goal is entirely accomplished to praise yourself. The lack of self-encouragement may be one of the things that is holding you up.

If you find in a few weeks that you have not been working on the goals you truly care about, start again right then and there. Don’t punish or chastise yourself. Just start from where you left off. Understand that meeting goals is about improving, changing and adjusting – yes, maybe even the goals themselves.

Stay in touch with yourself and make sure that the actions you are taking are the ones that have the potential to get you where you’re aiming to go. Finally, be willing to alter or even thoughtfully abandon your original goals if you find, in the pursuit, they no longer match up with what matters most to you.


 

 
 
©2003 by Joyce K. Reynolds. Duplication with credits only please. Click here for easy access to all books referenced. For complimentary 20-minute Coaching session e-mail jreynolds@jkr.net or visit www.business-coach.org. Click here to send this newsletter to a colleague. Executive Business Coach on bluesuitmom.com Click here to Unsubscribe. Newsletter maintained by Web Factum, LLC.