My New Year Anti-Resolution

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It’s the 1st of January. Many of us will have spent most of December in an extravagant and gluttonous fashion. It’s all good, because your New Year’s resolution is to get back into the gym, start a new diet, get in shape. Right?

This was me for many years; resolving that – on 1 January – irrespective of the same resolutions for 10 previous years, I would turn a new leaf and pursue my physical goals. I can confidently declare that not one of those resolutions achieved their desired effect. New years resolutions

Around 3 years ago, I decided that my resolutions would no longer relate to superficial goals that benefit only me. At first, I didn’t bother setting any resolutions because I felt I would only let myself down. Setting resolutions just for the sake of it seems to me like setting myself up for failure. I battle to follow through with things I am not really passionate about it.

I decided, then, that I would have a maximum of one resolution each year, and only if it related to something I’d discovered about myself that I wanted to change in order to make myself a little more bearable to be around. In other words, if it’s a character flaw and I can fix it in order to make myself a better person, then that might be a suitable resolution. I call it the “anti-resolution” because it doesn’t fit the stereotypical mould of a New Year’s resolution: selfish and superficial.

A year ago, after a friend harshly told me I never committed to social invitations, I resolved to stop saying “Maybe.”   Having just one resolution allowed me to focus on this for the entire year and keep it front of mind as much as possible. It’s not easy to change a habit and I am great at getting distracted, so focusing on just one “self-improvement” resolution limits the “Oh look, a butterfly!” effect.

The above resolution worked really well for me, so I have decided that I will set a similar goal for 2018. Something that I can turn into a habit now which will improve people’s interactions and perceptions of me for the rest of my life.

My 2018 Resolution

My resolution this year is inspired by one of my favorite TED Talks by Celeste Headlee. The resolution:

To be present in every conversation I participate in.

This may seem a little silly, but hear me out.  If you’re anything like me, you are easily distracted and never out of reach of your phone and/or some other piece of tech. This, amongst other things, makes it ridiculously easy to be distracted from conversation, especially when you’re not the one talking. Having someone constantly glancing at their phone or daydreaming while you convey your latest adventures/secrets/rants is both distracting and demeaning. I want the people I am talking to to value their interactions with me, not walk away feeling as though I didn’t care what they had to say.

This resolution, therefore, means the following to me:

  1. When I’m speaking to somebody or sitting at the dinner table, my phone will be on silent and out of sight. So long as the conversation continues, I will resist the urge to check my phone.
  2.  I aim to listen actively. This means that I want to do more than nod my head and grunt in the general direction of the speaker from time to time. I resolve to listen with the intent to understand, and to ask questions to make sure I understand.

I feel this will lead to more meaningful engagement with friends, family and colleagues. People speak to with the desire to be heard, so I resolve to be present in each conversation to the best of my ability, free from distraction.

What’s your resolution?

My 2018 resolution will likely be more difficult than I make it sound, but I truly hope it will improve the experience of communicating with me and will be a habit I can take forward for years to come. Despite my best efforts, history suggests I will probably not walk away from 2018 with a six pack of abs.

What have you resolved to do this year? Why? Let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “My New Year Anti-Resolution

  1. Beverley Chadwick says:

    Good one Mark! Everybody wants to be heard and a good listener is invaluable. You are a person of substance with much to offer others.

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