New Year’s Resolutions can be a source of pleasure, excitement… and (ouch) angst and guilt.
It seems that many creative people love making New Year’s resolutions.
The pleasure of coming up with plans for exciting new growth, and positive changes, can get you sparkling with delight.
Especially if a gorgeous new journal is involved. And a sumptuous, smooth fountain pen or pots of jewel-coloured ink. Not to mention a really good bar of mouth-watering dark chocolate to help things along…
But if we’re not careful, it’s all too easy for our hopeful, growth-oriented plans to turn into sticks that we beat ourselves with.
You know the kind of thing I mean.
The eating plan that doesn’t go the way you thought it would.
The exercise regime that falters and sputters and gradually evaporates.
The daily journaling that after three weeks shimmers imperceptibly into every few days, until one day you find the journal underneath a huge pile of other books and papers.
Bringing up feelings of failure, anxiety, guilt, and even shame.
And you end up feeling far worse than you would have, if you’d never set any New Year’s resolutions for yourself.
So what’s to be done?
I think one solution is to set positive intentions that are manageable, kind to yourself, and sustainable.
If you want to set New Year’s resolutions, go ahead.
But maybe this time round, your New Year’s resolutions could be more about processes and attitudes, rather than focused on goals.Making your New Years' resolutions about process, not goals. #creative #HSP Click To Tweet
I often find that in many situations, taking a process-led approach (rather than focusing on a narrow and pre-defined goal) can lead to more creative, enjoyable and ultimately productive experiences.
So here are 4 process-led New Year’s resolutions that I’m thinking about for myself.
1. The 10-minute plan
So often I’ll get to the end of the day and realise I haven’t spent any time working on some of the things I most want to do.
It’s so frustrating!
So that’s why I’m going to start implementing a 10-minute plan.
There are certain things I want to work on, but don’t often manage to find chunks of time for. So I’m going to invite myself to spend just 10 minutes a day on them. At the end of the 10 minutes, I might choose (if there’s time) to extend, to 15 or 30 minutes or longer. But equally, I may finish my 10 minutes and move straight on to something else.
I’m going to apply this to a range of activities.
Tasks I hate and generally tend to procrastinate on (like certain kinds of paperwork, or admin-type phone calls); activities I love but tend not to do very often (like art journaling, blog post writing, and planning workshops); and activities that I neither love nor hate but which would be helpful for me to do, such as meditation, yoga, and cleaning the bathroom.
I’ll even set a timer, to help me remember I have the option to stop when the 10 minutes are up.
And after? I’ll count the 10 minutes as a positive achievement. I will not start getting down on myself for not doing more, not finishing the task, etc.
Studies have proven that connecting to a sense of gratitude on a daily basis is strongly correlated with feelings of wellbeing.
It isn’t essential to write down a gratitude list – telling someone verbally is equally effective.
But I rather like writing, so I’ve set aside a book in which I’ll spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day, briefly jotting down 3 things that I’m feeling grateful for. As I jot down each one, I’ll spend a moment connecting to a bodily felt sense of the gratitude I feel for that thing.
To deepen the experience and help it sink in, I’ll also enquire of myself, where do I feel the gratitude right now? Is it in my heart? In my belly? In my face as I smile? Breathe it in, and out again.
The idea is also, that when you’re in the habit of noticing what you’re grateful for, you tend to have more moments during the day when you’re connecting to your felt sense of gratitude. Which can have a powerful calming effect on your nervous system.
3. Extend friendships
In ‘Frientimacy’, author Shasta Nelson* reminds us that friendships play a hugely important role in our happiness, wellbeing, health and even longevity.
Many of us neglect our friendships. We may yearn for deeper connections with our friends. And as we get older, some of us notice that we’re making fewer new friends.
Nelson offers us a model that she calls ‘The Frientimacy Triangle’ as a kind of roadmap of how to help broaden, build and deepen our friendships.
The triangle has three sides, with ‘Positivity’ as its base (because, she says, a relationship cannot start or grow without it). Positivity is to do with giving and receiving.
Another side is ‘Consistency’: building trust (spending time with someone on a regular basis, and making and keeping commitments).
And the third side is ‘Vulnerability’ (deepening meaning, opening up, etc).
As someone who tends to be a bit on the introverted side, it’s very easy for me to enjoy staying in, doing quieter family stuff or just working happily on my creative projects. There’s nothing wrong with that, in itself; but I have to be careful to balance that with spending time with my friends.
So one of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to attend more to my friendships and social connections, and to remember how valuable they are.
I’ve been reading ‘Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams’ by Matthew Walker**. It’s fascinating! And it’s made me realise quite how important good quality sleep is to our wellbeing.
So, very simply: I’m going to set myself up to get more opportunity for sleep, and hopefully better quality sleep, too. This is, of course, much easier said than done, for many of us (me included) – but Walker gives some useful tips (I think that’s given me an idea for a future blog post…)
And one more thing… I’ll be prepared for imperfection.
There will be days when I seem to fail at every one of my resolutions. Of course there will! And that will be okay.
How about you? What resolutions do you plan to make, if any? Let me know in the comments below.4 process-led New Year's resolutions geared towards the creative #HSP Click To Tweet
*’Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness‘ (2016) Shasta Nelson. Seal Press
**’Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams‘ (2017) Matthew Walker. Penguin Books